Sunday, November 27, 2005

Writing Short-Short Mystery Stories and the Short Mystery Fiction Society

Is it craft or desperation that makes a story short in length? It takes craft to create a story with a conflict, climax and conclusion in a hundred words or less. Often, it is desperation that drives the writer to want to be done with the dang thing, wrapping the story up prematurely . . . or chucking it into a wastebasket as the alternative.Just how short can a short, short story be?

Try 55 words. Yes, there are 55 word stories, though their longer (older) brethern and sisteren expand into the low thousands in terms of number of words. But short for most of the current short mystery markets means somewhere around 3,000 words or under. Yes, you can go longer. But if characters and plot need to have space to grow and roam, then perhaps they might function better in a novel-length treatment.

Here's a story that I published a few years back, and it runs about 110 words. It was for a flash fiction market, sometimes these short-short markets are also called micro fiction.

The New Year!A time for resolutions. I sit down with pen and paper.

lose 25 pounds
check out new BMW
call travel agent about Tuscany
buy nine mm

I open the desk drawer, take out the loaded gun and then cross out the last item.

get rid of husband
make death look like intruder
collect insurancelive happily ever after

Writers are always looking for markets, and I've included a few below. In addition, I belong to the Short Mystery Fiction Society group ( Take a look at it. Each year, the organization holds the Derringer Awards for the best short mystery stories. There are different categories for different word lengths. SMFS is a worthy group to join if you want to have writer camaraderie and helpful tips about writing and markets.

Browse the markets below, some favor traditional mysteries, some noir or hardboiled. All want good writing and an interesting story.

And as always,

Happy Writing and Good Reading

Mysterical-e Ezine -
Crime and Suspense Ezine -
Hardluck Stories -
posted by Patricia Harrington @ 8:39 AM