Friday, September 10, 2021

The Flashiest Flash Fiction

The Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America (RMMWA) has sponsored a popular six-word mystery contest for five years.  Hundreds of entries from around the U.S. and several other countries demonstrate the universal appeal of such storytelling.  So, once again, here's your chance to come up with the right combination of six pithy words filled with drama, tension, high emotion, or clever dialog.  Create a dark tale, a cozy thriller, or a humorous riddle in six words exactly, and if you are a crowd favorite you will win cash or gift cards and publication of your masterpiece.  Here's the RMMWA press release with all the info you need.  Good luck!


DENVER, August 23, 2021 – There are short stories. Then there are really short stories consisting of only six words. Writers who can boil down a mystery into a half-dozen words are encouraged to enter the fifth annual Six-Word Mystery Contest sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America (RMMWA).

The contest opens September 1, 2021 with instructions posted at Entries must be received by midnight, Oct. 8, 2021, MST. Six-word “whodunits” can be entered in one or all five of the following categories: Hard Boiled or Noir; Cozy Mystery; Thriller Mystery; Police Procedural Mystery; and/or a mystery with Romance or Lust. The Six-Word Mystery Contest is open to all adults 18 and over. No residency requirements.

Award-winning author and RMMWA Chapter President Margaret Mizushima said, “Follow the tradition set by Hemingway in the 1920s with your own boiled-down intriguing mystery, written in just six words and be judged by professional writers, editors, and agents. Writers from across the nation as well as Europe, Asia and Australia have entered our previous contests. We’re excited to see what big and fun story ideas are revealed this year.”

Last year’s overall winning entry from the romance/lust category was written by Sue Hinkin: “Smooth talking lothario found tongue tied.” Another previous contestant, Kathleen O’Brien, said her entry landed her a literary agent.

This year’s esteemed judges include Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Editor Linda Landrigan; New York Times best-selling author Anne Hillerman; award-winning author, lawyer and activist Manuel Ramos; literary agent Terrie Wolf, owner of AKA Literary Management; and John Charles of the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ.

The contest entry fee is $6 for one entry (just $1 per word); or $10 to enter six-word mysteries in all five categories. The grand prize winner will receive $100 in cold, hard cash. Winners in all other categories will receive $25 gift certificates, and all winners and finalists will be featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, on our RMMWA website, and in our popular monthly newsletter, Deadlines.

Participants will be invited to the chapter’s annual Mystery & Mistletoe Holiday Party in December which will be held live and on Zoom.

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, heart-breaking, and sublime six-word stories have been penned ever since.

For more information about the contest rules and how to enter, please visit beginning Sept. 1, 2021.


Mystery Writers of America is a nonprofit professional organization of mystery and crime writers, editors, publishers, and other professionals in the mystery field.

MWA watches developments in legislation and tax law, sponsors symposia and mystery conferences, presents the Edgar® Awards, and provides information for mystery writers. Membership in MWA is open to published authors, editors, screenwriters, and other professionals in the field.

The Rocky Mountain Chapter represents member writers in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. The Rocky Mountain Chapter meets monthly and provides educational presentations by subject matter experts on topics related to crime, law enforcement, investigative, forensic, medical and legal issues among others; and often sponsors special events of interest to mystery writers in the region.


Manuel Ramos writes crime fiction. His latest is Angels in the Wind, available from Arte Público Press.

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