Saturday, June 14, 2008

Writing a Mystery

Hope you're doing well and will have a minute to read a great post in MURDER BY 4 by author R. C. Burdick titled "Tools of the Writer's Trade." You'll find plenty of practical information for writers.

Bob began writing for publication in 1982. He has published dozens of articles and short stories and also counts two mystery novels among his credits: THE MARGARET ELLEN (2004) and TREAD NOT ON ME (2005). Additionally, his short story collection, STORIES ALONG THE WAY, won the 2002 Royal Palm Book Award. As a contributing writer his work has appeared in the Chatsworth Times, The Time Courier, and The St. Petersburg Times. His work in progress includes Death At Bear Creek Summit and Bottom Feeders, a sequel to The Margaret Ellen. Since 2001, Burdick has also been a columnist and contributing writer for Inky Trail News.

With this in mind, today's prompt deals with writing mystery. For those who follow my writing, you know that I most often write fantasy, speculative fiction or inspiration non-fiction. However, my first published story was a mystery which came about as the result of a writing prompt. Today, I share a similar prompt with you.

Today's Prompt:

Write for 15 minutes. Don't stop to make changes, just write. Use one or more of the following as a springboard:
  • A crime that happens at a wedding
  • A crime that takes place in a garden
  • Involves a missing person or pet
  • Crime that takes place while hiking


Marta Stephens said...

Ha! In honor of my our 28 wedding anniversary today, it seemed appropriate to take your challenge to write about a crime at a wedding -- fifteen minutes. This was fun. Here goes:

No one noticed that Rodney Timms hadn’t moved in over an hour. He was sitting on the grass some distance away from the wedding party and leaning against the old Maple at the far end of the lawn. A small faded red spot on his the front of his shirt raised a guest’s eyebrow.
“Wine. Shame he can’t control his drink,” Mrs. Filler said with a shake of her head.
Doris Timms bit her lip then sipped her punch. “Typical.”
While the two women watched Rodney sleep, another guest walked up behind them.
“And what are you to lovelies doing?” Mr. Allan asked.
“Why it’s Rodney.” Mrs. Filler pointed an accusing finger at man leaning against the tree. “Drunk as usual.”
“Well, it is a wedding.” Allan smiled and raised his glass. “Let him have his fun, I say.”
“But his own daughter’s wedding!”
“That’s Rodney for you. Why do you think we divorce?” Doris took anther sip. “Nothing but problems, that one. I didn’t want him to come—he insisted. In fact, I begged him. I knew something like this would happen.”
Allan gave Doris a consoling patted on the back. “Just let him sleep it off. In the morning everything will be better. You’ll see.”
“Yes, I’m sure you’re right,” Doris said. "In fact, I know it."

As Mrs. Filler and Mr. Allan walked away, a smile tugged at the corner of Doris’s mouth while she continued to stare at her former husband. Moments later she heard another family friend, David, call out her name. She could sense he was only a few feet away.
“Doris, what,” he paused for a moment. “You dropped something.” He carefully picked up the ice pick with his napkin then lowered and raised his glance. He glanced at Rodney and frowned. His mouth grew taut.
Doris froze. She clutched her purse and stared him square in the face wondering what he was going to do with the bloodied ice pick he held in his napkin; the one that had fallen out of her purse. The pick with her prints and Rodney’s blood on it. Damn, she always liked David. Now she’d have to take care of him too.

Donna Sundblad said...

Marta! Great job. Now wasn't that fun. :)

Amazing what can be accomplished in 15 minutes. Thanks for participating.


Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Okay, so Marta inspired me to give this a try. I haven't written quick fiction in a long time, and it was so much fun! Here's my piece, not corrected, just thrown out there after 15 minutes of playing. ;o)

She saw it all in slow motion again, sitting there on the rocks high above the Letchworth Gorge. She saw the blood pool in the dirt on the trail and the calm hand that pulled the pocketknife out of her boyfriend’s back.

The musty smell of wet leaves coated the inside of her mouth. She ran her tongue over her lips, noticing for the first time a warm salty wound where she’d bit through the skin. Somehow, it tasted good. And the distraction felt welcome.

This way, she wouldn’t have to think about him. The way his dull brown eyes had dimmed and gone dark when she’d turned him over. She banged her fist against her head over and over again.

“Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”

The attack had been unexpected, out of the blue. She turned her attention to the rock on which she perched, ready to fly into the abyss. Mica sparkled from its crevices. She picked at a large piece, dislodging it and looking at her spooky eye in the reflection.

She wanted to cry. She wanted to scream. But her brain clamped down on her so hard she had to squirm in place rather than give in.

Squinting at the crows that cackled overhead in the beech tree, she shouted up to them.

“Shut up!” They responded, and one flew in lazy circles, close to her.

She felt the panic rise again. Pictured Fred’s eyes when he told her about Lucy. Pictured the calm red surf that had filled her heart and had made her reach for the knife, oh so slowly.

Oh yes. He’d deserved to die. He’d really had it coming.

She stood, brushed her bloody hands on her jeans, and leapt from the cliffs to the glistening river water that curved in a metallic ribbon below.

Donna Sundblad said...


I love this piece. Your use of the senses really brings this pieces to life--the salty flavor, musty smell of wet leaves--

And the way you set us up to misdirect us. Great job. 15 minutes well spent.

Thanks for vising my blog.


Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Thank you, Donna, it was great fun! And I've mentioned this again in my piece today at MURDER BY 4 blog. ( Encouraging our readers to hop over and give it a try! Funny, but I'd already written this piece to hopefully inspire writers to come up with pieces to match some of my photos - looks like yesterday was the day for inspiration. Now we just have to keep it rolling!

Donna Sundblad said...

Hi Aaron,

I'll have to check it out.

I do post picture prompts from time to time. If you ever have a photo you'd like me to use, I can offer a link back to your blog.