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Some Prompts for FWA Collection #5: It’s a Crime

October 28, 2012

As you may know, the theme for next year’s FWA Collection–the fifth in the series–is It’s a Crime. Our person of renown for the collection is New York Times best-selling author Edna Buchanan, who’s also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and an Edgar award winner. You may have heard of her.

The drill is the same as it always is. You write a short story no longer than 1,200 words or a poem no longer than 50 lines that’s about crime or has a connection to crime. (Something like the Wilpons’ mismanagement of the New York Mets probably doesn’t qualify.) Sometime between February 1 and May 15, 2013, you send it in. The top sixty entries are selected for the collection, and if your work is selected, you’re now a published author (how cool is that?).

Edna will pick her ten favorites from the sixty and they’ll be featured at the beginning of the book. Click here for complete rules.

To get you going, here are five prompts, courtesy of the fabulous Jamie Morris.

  1. You (or a character) walk into a familiar place (home, office, gym, bar . . .). You feel something amiss, but can’t put your finger on it. Ignoring the little voice in your head (or the shiver up your spine), you start to do what you’d usually do there. Suddenly, however, you notice that something is A) missing, or B) out of place, or C) an addition to the usual items you’d expect to see there.
  2. A ransom note arrives–in a wildly unusual way. How does it arrive? And what stakes would be high enough to get you or your character involved?
  3. In a restroom stall, you see that a wallet or handbag has been left behind. What remains inside? And what do the contents tell you about how it came to be there? (And is that a smear of BLOOD?!?)
  4. On the city bus, you notice a woman bumping into several people, then apologizing profusely—while a young man follows closely behind her, almost as if they were a team. Who is the woman? Are she and the young man connected? If so, whose point of view would make the most interesting story?
  5. Three seemingly unrelated items are actually clues to solving a crime. What are they? What’s the crime? Can your main character find the solution with just those items?

Jamie Morris, director of Woodstream Writers ( offers writers professional critique, editing, and book-coaching services, as well as presenting writing workshops throughout the Southeast.


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