Nancy's Books

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Writing Mysteries, Calls for Submissions

I’m continuing with ideas for writing mysteries for middle grader readers. 
Prevent a sagging, boring middle by adding unexpected events, twists and turns in the middle of the story.

Let your readers in on something that the main character doesn’t know. Maybe the reader knows the next-door neighbor has a key to the house but the main character doesn’t know it yet.

Develop a setting to fit the mood of the story. Frighten the characters and the readers will identify with them. Rain and fog at night adds a scary element. During the day, the character might enter a dark house or tread down creepy stairs to a damp, dark basement.

Add a surprise ending. If the reader can figure out they mystery, the fun of reading the book is diminished. Consider many options. The ending has to be logical and follow through with the clues you’ve included throughout the narrative.

The character should solve the mystery by logical means, not rely on hocus-pocus, intuition, or anything other than the clues. Never try to fool the reader by being unclear in the writing. That leads to confusion, not a mystery.

Reveal the culprit or solution to the mystery at the end of the story. If the mystery is solved too early, the reader has no reason to continue reading.

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Canvas. We are seeking writers ages 13-18 to submit: 
Fiction – Please limit submissions to 5,000 words.
Novel Excerpts - Novel and memoir excerpts are acceptable if self-contained (work as a complete narrative).
Poetry – You may submit more than one poem, but please do not exceed 5 pages worth of poetry.
Plays - Please follow standard play format. Limit to 10 pages.
Nonfiction – Essays, memoir, creative nonfiction. Please limit submissions to 5,000 words.  
New Media – Video, images, etc fine for website. But must be accompanied by written version to be considered for print and eBook.

Cross-genre - Experimental work (prose poems, art and writing, fiction and nonfiction hybrids) are highly encouraged, but please keep to the word limit for fiction.
Submission guidelines at 

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
American Short Fiction has published, and continues to seek, short fiction by some of the finest writers working in contemporary literature, whether they are established, or new or lesser-known authors. In addition to its triannual print magazine, American Short Fiction also publishes stories (under 2000 words) online.
Unsolicited submissions are accepted year-round. There are no set guidelines as to content or length. Anyone wishing to send a story to American Short Fiction should first become familiar with the work previously published by the magazine. Sample copies and subscriptions are available for sale through our online store.



  1. Thanks for this post. I'm enjoying this series.

    1. Mood and tone establish a scene so that it seems real to the reader by building tension and/or tapping into an emotion.