When I was growing up, I devoured all the Nancy Drew novels at my library. I’d always go to that back corner where they were shelved and scan the yellow spines to see if there was a new book out. I graduated to other mysteries, like Kim Aldrich, Trixie Beldon, and Phyllis A. Whitney‘s Gothic mysteries.
I also wrote short stories about a girl like Nancy Drew who solved mysteries. Her name was Sharon McCall, and she was a lot of things I wanted to be: athletic, long, straight hair. Years later, my mother blurted out that she hadn’t liked “That terrible Sharon McCall.” This was something she should have kept to herself!
But once I started writing for publication, I veered away from mystery. I’m not good with details, and mystery is all about the details. But the ideas class I’m taking is forcing me to put details into the openings that I tended to ignore, as well as look at new forms of inspiration.
So when I saw a photo prompt with a pro rate mystery magazine, I decided to try for it. I noted three prominent things about the photo and made sure all of those got into the story.
Since the magazine issue has only male writers with about male characters, I did a female character and I also made her a private in the army. That’s not a type of character everyone else is doing.
By the way, did I mention this story couldn’t be any longer than 250 words?
Of course, this evil little voice keeps saying that the story isn’t right, though it’s never specific. So I banished that voice and sent the story off.