The hunt for the best unpublished short mystery story is on.
Entrants have until 6pm GMT on Monday 28 February to enter the international Crime Writers’ Association (CWA)
Margery Allingham Short Mystery competition, 2022.
The Margery Allingham Society, set up to honour and promote the writings of the great Golden Age author whose well-known hero is Albert Campion, works with the CWA to operate and fund the writing competition. Each year the competition attracts many entries from the UK and overseas.
Entrants are asked to focus on specific elements to match Margery Allingham’s definition of a mystery, which is: “The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, an Enquiry and a Conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it.”
The judging criteria rewards traditional mysteries that match this definition, as well as other criteria such as plot originality and characterisation.
Secretary of the CWA and competitions co-ordinator, said:
“It’s very much in a writer’s interests to study that definition and ensure their story follows that chronology. There are recent winning and shortlisted entries on the website which give a flavour of the kind of mystery the judges are looking for.”
Entries are invited
from all writers, published or unpublished, writing in English.
Diamond Dagger winner and acclaimed crime writer and editor Martin Edwards won the Margery Allingham Prize in its inaugural year, in 2014, and his tips for writing a winning story are on the website.
Shortlisted authors for the prize have also found wider success, such as Christine Poulson, whose short story ‘Accounting for Murder’ featured in the 2017 CWA anthology, Mystery Tour, and went on to be shortlisted for the CWA Short Story Dagger.
Dea added: “Last year saw the highest number of entries for some time. The pandemic and lockdown undoubtedly had an effect, and mystery stories are currently a strong trend with Richard Osman’s record-breaking debut, The Thursday Murder Club, a key touchstone for publishers. This short story competition is a fantastic way of building a writer’s craft, and profile, in this genre.”
Traditional whodunnits have been dubbed as a ‘pandemic-era balm’. Readers embraced Osman’s Agatha-Christie-style novels, and traditional whodunnits by authors such as Robert Thorogood, Elly Griffiths and Vaseem Khan have been popular. Thorogood created the TV hit show, Death in Paradise, whereas Elly Griffiths’ The Postscript Murders was shortlisted for the Gold Dagger last year and Vaseem Khan’s Midnight at Malabar House won the Historical.
Dea added: “These stories provide familiarity and comfort in an uncertain world as they offer clues, great characters and locations, with the mystery solved in the end and justice served.”
The longlist for the prize will be revealed online and at the CWA conference on 23 April, followed by the shortlist online in May, and the winner will be announced at this year’s international crime writing convention, CrimeFest, on Friday 13 May.
The winner receives
£500 and two passes for CrimeFest in 2023.
Submissions have a limit of 3,500 words and it costs £12 to enter.