How Does One Write Mystery Flash Fiction?

Guttersnipe

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As you may already know from my posts, I'm bigger on ideas than I am developing them into stories. I have notebooks full of ideas, most of them at least passable. The thing is, I've written many flash fiction stories, largely speculative, but none of them have been mysteries. I'm asking this question partially because I want to work on one someday and partially because I don't know how it can be done. Most examples I've seen are more crime than mystery. I don't understand how to take all the details, clues, explanations and revelations and cram them into such a compact length. Have you had any experience or have any knowledge about how to write mystery flash fiction? What kind of process would you recommend?

Currently, I've only come up with one scenario that isn't fully formed. It's to be written from a first person POV, the first person being a detective who's discussing suspects for a crime with another detective. The latter eventually reveals he knows the protagonist is the final guilty person. The revealed criminal, thinking they're alone, shoots him with a silencer, only to find he's wearing a wire. So he's committed the first crime (robbery?) and murder and is sent to prison. I know it's really basic and not especially clever, but that's as far as I got. Pointers for this as well?
 
I would try to include some psychological twists and turns that led to dead ends. This would have the MC question themselves.
Mysteries are like assembling a puzzle, but you need to find the pieces first and you never find them in order.
I would figure out what the clues are (even some false ones too) and their significance to the crime, and then scatter them into the story.

I may not be of much help here, but it's a start!
 
I need to apologize @Guttersnipe. I have no intentions of highjacking your thread and my last post was unintentional.:rolleyes: Sorry!

First, I am no expert in Flash Fiction or Mysteries, but I like a good challenge and your question is stuck in my mind. So I did some reacher into Flash Fiction and Short Mysteries for my own interest and after doing some cross-referencing, I came up with my own thoughts:

You know how to write Flash Fiction and you must have notes/studied how to write a mystery. So I think you might write the first1/2 or 2/3eds of your story in the 1st person pov of the MC's reflecting on the past; who- what -why- suspense-clues-twist and turns-and a stumper or two. This is where you want to draw in and hook the reader, as you know.

Then go into the present in the 1st person at the point of finding or realizing the whereabouts of the last clue. Follow through with the last red-herring, conflict, and a surprising conclusion in the last 1/2 or 1/3 of the story.

Write the outline and develop your strategy. Put it in critiques and keep at it. I only say this because I can't find a Flash Fiction Mystery anywhere, but that's just me. :)

This looks like a fun challenge! Good luck!
 
I don't see why a mystery should be harder to write than any other genre. We can open with a question, and close with the answer, it gives an easy and clear cut format for flash fiction. I'm sure you could do it in 75 words, if it's a simple mystery like 'Where are my keys?' and the answer is something lame like 'Oh spaceships don't have keys, i'm so stupid!'
I feel like in flash fiction focusing on making the revelation actually interesting will be the most important. As flash fiction needs a solid end.
 
The central pull of a mystery is on the reader. They want to be misled and to see it. They want either to be utterly surprised by the reveal, or to feel smug that they were able to deduce it. Either way, a mystery is all about peeling back layers.

When you've only got a thousand words, you aren't going to have many layers. In fact, you may only have room for one.

You might consider a somewhat different approach. Write a mystery. Don't worry about its length, just write a mystery and get all the way through the standard stages. Then look at your own work and decide if it can be trimmed and at what cost. I suggest there's a reason why we do not find many examples of flash fiction mysteries.
 
The central pull of a mystery is on the reader. They want to be misled and to see it. They want either to be utterly surprised by the reveal, or to feel smug that they were able to deduce it. Either way, a mystery is all about peeling back layers.

When you've only got a thousand words, you aren't going to have many layers. In fact, you may only have room for one.

You might consider a somewhat different approach. Write a mystery. Don't worry about its length, just write a mystery and get all the way through the standard stages. Then look at your own work and decide if it can be trimmed and at what cost. I suggest there's a reason why we do not find many examples of flash fiction mysteries.
I assume that there is an immersion element necessary for something to read as a mystery: You have to live in the mystery for a certain number of pages to become invested. And I'll bet the number could even be quantified - as much more than flash length.
 
I do think it's a challenge. I love writing SF at short length but when it comes to novels I just don't have the science know-how for SF, but I like reading crime/mystery too so could explore crime fic at longer length. But I'd like to hone my skills a bit on shorts - but I keep failing to come up with a 'whole' story on a small scale...
 

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