Sunday, December 16, 2018

Crime in Short Order

In October, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America (RMMWA) announced that it was holding its second-annual Six-Word Mystery Contest, and that its panel of judges would include Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine editor Linda Landrigan as well as author Anne Hillerman. The competition opened on October 1, with a deadline for submissions of November 1. Five categories of entries were available to those folks daring enough to share their ideas: Hard-boiled or Noir, Cozy, Thriller, Police Procedural, and Romance or Lust.

The finalists and winner in each category, as well as the overall winner, were declared last Thursday night, December 14. There are as follows:

Cozy:
Winner: Auntie’s needles were not for knitting. (Matthew Porter)
Was picture perfect. I framed him. (Julie Kerr)
Ukulele club. Jealousy. Death by G-string. (C.C. Harrison)
Wedding gown cheap. Red stain discount. (Kris Neri)
Deserted island, our last breakfast together. (Kristin Horton)

Hard-boiled/Noir:
Winner: Concrete boots replaced the blonde’s stilettos. (Margaret Mizushima)
Stole her heart—and ate it. (Julie Kerr)
Dog ate more than her homework. (Julie Kerr)
She confessed. It wasn’t my baby. (Vaibhab Hassija)
One gun. One bullet. Two dead. (Geri Hannah)

Police Procedural:
Winner: Autopsy couldn’t reveal his true heart. (Matthew Porter)
Only witness to murder. Blind teacher. (Vaibhav Hassija)
Cops unearth killer! Paperwork buries cop. (Mo Walsh)
Always check the evidence room again. (Cynthia Kuhn)
His sins blazed like luminol stars. (Sue Hinkin)

Romance:
Winner: Crossed her heart. Helped him die. (Julie Kerr)
“Choose. Him or me.” I chose. (Stina Branson)
Here lies, my love: name unknown. (Franz Margitza)
“He’s dead. Your place or mine?” (Margaret Mizushima)
His smoldering kisses were ruled arson. (Sue Hinkin)

Thriller:
Winner: She took his name. For starters. (Matthew Porter)
The diamond glittered like freedom. Irresistible. (M.A. Monnin)
He raised his gun. I unloaded. (Daniel Sanchez)
The microfilm reely tasted like treason. (Jazz Lawless)
My neighbor smiled between the shades. (Connor McCloskey)

2018 RMMWA Six-Word Mystery Contest Overall Contest Winner:
She took his name. For starters. (Matthew Porter)

Just for the record, last year’s macabre, overall winner was in the Thriller category: “Eyes so lovely I kept them,” by Cindy Marsh.

An RMMWA news release about this contest explained that “According to legend, the first six-word novel was born in the 1920s when Ernest Hemingway, at New York’s Algonquin Hotel or Luchow’s restaurant (depending on whom you ask), won a $10 bet by writing a six-word story. His dark and dramatic submission was: ‘For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.’ Urban legend or no, memorable, heartbreaking, and sublime six-word stories have been penned ever since.”

Like the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which asks that readers and writers submit their worst (that is, most humorous and over-the-top) opening sentences from (thankfully) never-to-be-finished books, the RMMWA’s Six-Word Mystery Contest sounds like a challenge I might wish to take up sometime.

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