First, a little about me, so you know who I am and what I do: I write true-crime stories, some of which are from way back in history, some that are more recent. I only publish once a week, which I know isn’t optimal. Despite that, and despite the fact that on Medium, true crime seems to be a rather niche channel, I am among that 8 percent of writers who earns more than $100 a month. And nearly every story I publish gets curated.
Obviously Medium’s Curation Guidelines are the first and last word on what you need to do to get curated. But let me also share with you what I do, in the hopes it’ll be helpful for you:
I do a lot of research.
Obviously, when you’re writing non-fiction, you have to get the facts right. Your best sources are the newspapers and news broadcasts of that time, if you can find them. But documentaries and other people’s writing are good, too. (Note: Wikipedia can be a good place to start, but use it as a launchpad to click on the cited sources). Read/watch as many different *reputable* sources if you can (Pro tip: random bloggers/YouTubers who don’t cite their sources don’t count).
While researching, I keep my ears perked for anything that stands out: are there wildly varying accounts of the same thing? Has coverage of it changed over time? As I learn more about the crime and its context, the angle (how I’ll approach it in my writing) begins to form.
Even if you’re not writing true crime, research is your friend. Let’s say you’re writing about your struggle with depression. Researching how many people suffer from it, what are the most commonly prescribed medications, trends, demographics, etc. can help place your personal narrative into a wider social story, giving it more relevance and weight.
My stories follow a narrative structure.
Simply stating fact after fact, in one declarative sentence after another, doesn’t engage readers. And a long scroll of single-sentence paragraphs is just annoying. Remember the basic narrative structure: establish the setting (the where and when), then build rising suspense/action/conflict, then bring it to the climax. Often I like to start en media res, such as when the first body was found or when the victim was first reported missing, then fill in the backstory where appropriate.
Again, even personal essays need to follow this narrative format to some degree if you want to engage your readers.
I plan out my publishing schedule.
In the industry, it’s called an editorial calendar. I started mine last December, when I vowed to publish every Monday. In making my plan, I tried to hang my stories, whenever possible, on some kind of relevant hook, like the anniversary of the crime, or, for example, profiling female serial killers during Women’s History Month. This helps in several ways: it gives me a plan, which I find helps me avoid the “I can’t decide what to write about” writer’s block. It also gives me a deadline, which helps keep me focused and motivated. Finally, with the right hashtags, it helps me get more eyeballs via social media (you are promoting your stories on social media, right? Right?).
I proofread before publishing.
I know it’s been said before, but I’m going to say it again: before you hit “Publish,” go over your writing with a fine-tooth comb. I have a long background as an editor, so it’s probably easier for me than maybe for others, but it’s vitally important! The best essay in the world won’t matter if it’s full of sins like typos, misspellings, and random capitalization (to name just a few). As I would tell my journalism students: if you want to be treated like a professional, you’ve got to act like one. That means putting your very best work out there, even if it means taking a little more time with it than you might want to.
I hope these suggestions help you not only get curated more, but become a better writer. Best of luck!