Short Stories

Sunday, January 12, 2020

There’s been a slight detour from the novels of my new mystery series. In revising the one I’d been thinking of as a prequel and something to give away to people who sign up for my newsletter, I discovered that it was longer than the one I’ve been calling the first in series!

I’ve always given away short stories before, although some authors regularly give away novels. I haven’t got enough finished novels in my inventory to start giving one away yet. Writing, revising, editing, and proofreading a novel takes months of work. Then I have to pay for software to create and edit it, copyright registration, a cover, advertising, mailing list fees… well, you get the picture. If I give one away, it’s the same as giving away months of income. Unfortunately, I’m not independently wealthy.

But I want to have something new to give away to my readers for this series, so difficult as they are for me to write, I’m working on a short story featuring my main characters. Yes, you read that correctly. I have a horrible time writing short fiction. Almost every time I start a short story, it turns into a novel.

So, in my never-ending quest to learn how to write short, I’ve been reading mystery short stories the past few days. Because I wanted to make sure I read good stories, I bought “A Choice of Murders (A Mystery Writers of America Classic Anthology Book 7)", featuring stories by Mignon G. Eberhart, Ross MacDonald, Ellery Queen, and many others. Now, I haven’t read all the stories in this collection and most of those I read were by authors I hadn’t heard of, but my general impression was the same as when I usually try to read short stories: they didn’t seem like good mysteries.

So, in desperation, I went in search of an old hardcover collection I knew I had: “Miss Marple The Complete Short Stories.” Knowing that I’d probably read stories early in this book in the past, I flipped to one later in the book: The Case of the Perfect Maid. Agatha Christie did not disappoint. This is the kind of story I remember reading when I fell in love with mysteries! It was completely engaging from the beginning, with a marvelous twist at the end.

So now, with the perfect example fresh in my memory, my challenge is to write something half as good. Or at least just as short. That is what I hope The Case of the Stolen Strongbox will be. I’ve started brainstorming this story and am trying mightily to remember not to go wandering into any intriguing byways as the story develops. I hope to have it written this week. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll be able to download a copy for free when it’s finished.

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A Clash of Kings
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