Monday, January 14, 2013

Writing and Editing a Crime Story

Imagine a gathering of writers, elbow to elbow, sharing their traditional haiku, literary prose, and symbolistic  poetry and then I’m next in line with, ‘The knife dangling from his fingers dripped a bloody path to the bathroom.’ 

Recently, one of the writers urged me to submit a short story to a publication that issued a call for crime fiction.  I love writing crime fiction, but short stories...ehhhh...  Whatever, I decide to give it a shot. (pardon the pun)

The deadline is almost on top of me and there is no time to start one from scratch so I check out the short stories I have on file.  Maybe there is something promising that I can re-write or edit.  I never think of myself as a short story writer but it’s surprising how many I have written over the last two or three years, although, only a few are of this genre. 

Back to the submission call – I select a story that has always been one of my favourites.  I love this story.  The twisted, tragic ending.  Ahhhh.  I think I’ve sent it out a time or two with no luck.  Let’s see if it’s worth salvaging.

Every story has a beginning, middle, and an end.  I move the middle of the story to the beginning, and I shorten the ending.  That in itself is a major improvement.  So far, so good.  Now, it's obvious that one or two characters have to go.  After all, this is a short story.  Much better.

My next read-through, I pay particular attention to the paragraphs, and then narrow my focus down to sentences.  Now I can see the problem.  This paragraph belongs up here − these sentences are too choppy – and those ones need to be tightened. 

Dialogue!  I need dialogue to liven up the beginning of the story.  So now, I have our protagonist talking with a waiter who provides information important to the development of the story.  This is all good.

The lead character’s name is wrong.  I just have that feeling so I change her name.  Any sentence I’m not 100% comfortable with has to go!  If there is a word I stumble with, it has to go.  I keep reading until the story flows smoothly from beginning to end.

Keeping a close eye on the word count, my story remains within the required length.  Okay, one last read-through to see if I am following the criteria of the submission call.   

Family ü Fraud ü Deceit ü Wrongdoing ü   Murder ü Injurious Acts ü

Looks like I have it covered!

Wish me luck!


  1. Wishing you luck Aunt Phyllis, hope it gets published!


    1. Thanks Stacy. It seems I need a lot of nudges to get my work out there. Here's hopin'.