This week: Just a little mysteryEdited by: Arakun the Twisted Raccoon
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Quote for the week: “The mystery story is two stories in one: the story of what happened and the story of what appeared to happen.” ― Mary Roberts Rinehart.
A mystery story doesn't have to be a complete novel. Some mysteries, including many that have been published as novels, would work much better as short stories.
If a story has a simple plot and relatively few characters it might be an excellent short story, but might not have enough "meat" for an entire novel. That does not mean it isn't a good story as it is. Resist the temptation to add filler and unnecessary subplots or characters to a good short story to bring it up to novel length. Unless the additions improve the story, you are better off without them. There is nothing more annoying for a reader than a good 1000 word story stretched into a boring 350 page novel.
Occasionally the opposite situation occurs, and a writer tries to force an entire novel into a 1000 word story. Some stories aren't complete without several intertwined subplots or a large cast of characters. If reviewers keep telling you that your story seems rushed or your characters are underdeveloped, you might need to flesh it out in some way.
When you start writing your story, you may not always know what length will fit best. Don't be afraid to cut a longer story or add to a shorter one if you feel it will work better that way.
Shorter stories often begin in the middle of the action. For example, the story might begin with the detectives at the crime scene instead of opening chapters that set the stage. You might need to show the characters' personalities and relationships through brief dialogue exchanges and action scenes instead of longer narrative description.
Examples of good short mystery stories include those that were presented on the old "Twilight Zone" or those still published in "Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine" or "The Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine."
Something to try: Write a mystery story in 1000 words or less.
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