Pitching to Mosaic

If you’re a writer/journalist/audio producer and have an idea for a story, we’d love to hear it.

What are we looking for?

Our remit is fairly broad, spanning any aspect of biology, medicine, public health, history or ethics that in some way touches on human or animal health or the human condition.

The most important thing for Mosaic is the story. We’re not after reviews or essays. What we want is a strong compelling narrative that will engage our readers. A narrative – a sense of journey; where you are taking the reader; a beginning, middle and end – is essential to us.

A Mosaic story needs to be on a topic or issue that will resonate with a general readership. A scientific or research angle can be important, but not essential. What’s more important is the point you are trying to make with this, and the take home message for the reader. 

Why now?’ is another question we ask. We’re not looking for news or investigative journalism, but there has to be a sense of why our readers would want to read about this topic at this moment in time. Why would a general reader care enough to read this? What’s the ‘news you can use’? Of the pieces we’ve commissioned so far, many draw on new discoveries or new approaches that are transforming a particular field and then explore and explain the science and social/cultural context around it. Others are on timeless topics that have always fascinated people, such as ageing or consciousness.

Some other elements of story we consider:

Characters. It’s what people react to, what stays with them, what makes a piece memorable or not. Who are the people in the story, what are they like, what are their motivations? Does the reader empathise with them or despise them? Any kind of reaction is good, as it means that the reader engages with the characters (and thus the story). Having said that, a character needn’t
necessarily be a person, or even a living thing.

Direction: A good story has a sense of where it’s going, a sense of purpose, even if the reader doesn’t necessarily need to feel it. Is the plot building toward a payoff? Is there a feeling that the
writer wants to convey, to instill in the reader during time they spend in the story? Any or all can work.

An ending: If you have some idea of how you might end your story – what your final act might be, roughly what destination you are aiming for, even if it changes as you’re on your journey – then this can help when you’re writing.

A challenge: While it shouldn’t be a chore to read, you do want to make your reader work, at least a little. How can you expect them to engage if it’s all just passively washing over them?

What is your story about? And what is it really about? Most articles in magazines seem pretty straightforward, but scratch under the surface of the best and it’s clear that it’s not just the main plot you’re following, it’s the underlying themes and a greater sense of exploration around a subject - a building up to be more than the sum of its parts. For longform stories in particular, this
extra layer can make the investment of time feel worth it for the reader.

A spine: Many shorter feature articles have some kind of cute opening and a ‘kicker’ – returning to that cute opening in a throwaway line at the end. That sort of bookending is fine in shorter pieces, but can feel a bit inconsequential. For long stories its essential to have a thread the reader can follow: that main overarching plot, a direction, those central characters. Any combination could work as a guide for the reader through the complex, second layer themes and story you’re trying to explore. Your story might be a complex mass of events, but a sense of character development/change, drama, and/or chronology can give the reader something to grip on to as the world rushes by.

Surprise: Not always possible, but if you can deliver to your reader something unexpected, whether a turn of events, a change of character or a reaction in them to a subject/character/thing that they wouldn’t have expected, that can make your story memorable and engaging.

 

The very best pitches we’ve seen have had the essence of the story in the first couple of lines. For good examples, we highly recommend The Open Notebook’s pitch database

Mosaic features are commissioned at 3,500–5,000 words at a flat fee, plus expenses.

We do not commission film from freelancers.

Where to send your pitches

Send a brief email to [email protected] introducing yourself a little and outlining your idea.