BEST MYSTERY WRITING PROMPTS

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Showing 53 prompts reset

This week's contest:
Win $250

Showtime

99 contest entries /
99 stories

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Closes at 23:59 - Dec 10 EST

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Win $250 in our short story competition 🏆

We'll send you 5 prompts each week. Respond with your short story and you could win $250!

Contest #123 LIVE

Enter our weekly contest!

This week's theme: Showtime


$250

Prize money

99

Contest entries

99

Stories

--

Days

--

Hours

--

Mins

--

Secs

Closes at 23:59 - Dec 10, 2021 EST
View details

Recent contests ✍️

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Recent winners 🏆

Deborah Elliottread

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Leaderboard 🥇

#1 Zilla Babbitt

31728 points

#2 Abigail Airuedomwinya

21989 points

#3 Deidra Lovegren

21346 points

#4 Scout Tahoe

12597 points

#5 Rayhan Hidayat

10277 points

#6 Deborah Mercer

9479 points

#7 Corey Melin

7288 points

#8 Kathleen March

6877 points

#9 Roshna Rusiniya

6040 points

#10 Joshua G. J. Insole

5347 points

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If you love suspense and finding clues is your idea of a good time, you’re probably a fan of mysteries. Now, pick up a pen and — presto! — you’re ready to also become a mystery author, right? Well, not so fast. Because we all know, the key to a gripping whodunnit are the unique mysterious story ideas behind them. If you’re currently waiting for a lightbulb to go off in your head before you embrace your inner Agatha Christie, you’ll enjoy these mystery writing prompts!

Here are three broad categories of mystery stories you might want to consider writing:

  • Cozies. These usually take place in — as the name would suggest — cozy settings, such as small towns. They are meant to be a “light read” meaning they don’t involve graphic violence. The detective is typically an “average joe” with a knack for sleuthing.
  • Hard-boiled. Typically feature a professional detective. As the story unfolds, not only is the mystery untangled, but so is the protagonist’s character development as they face their own internal struggles. These are typically more “gritty” than cozies.
  • Procedurals. Distinguished by their very in-depth explanation of how a mystery was solved — whether a police procedural or an explanation from a medical examiner. 


Want more help learning how to write a short mystery? Check out How to Write a Short Story That Gets Published — a free, ten day course by Laura Mae Isaacman, a full-time editor who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn.


Have a story you’re ready to start submitting? Check out our list of writing contests or our directory of literary magazines.