Why crime writing makes me feel like a newbie


“Will they like it?”

“Will they choose it?”

“Is it any good?”

“Will they laugh/shrug/crumple it into a virtual ball and chuck it in the trash folder?”

These were just a few of the thoughts running through my head earlier today when I attached a short story to an email, penned a few lines and then clicked ‘SEND’.

I’ve just submitted a short story to the 2014 Crime Writers’ Anthology ‘Guilty Parties’ anthology and I’m nervous! It’s the first time I’ve submitted a story to a publication in two or three years and I’m feeling the pressure.

For a start this is the first crime story I’ve ever written. I’ve written hundreds of short stories before and, while some of them were dark, it was because they happened to turn out that way, it wasn’t intentional. This time it was. The brief for the CWA anthology was to write a short story on the theme of ‘guilty parties’ with a maximum word limit of 5,000. And that was it. I started brainstorming but got stuck on my first idea. I liked it too much to consider alternatives and the voice of the main character was stuck in my head.

It took me a few days to write it and the first draft came in at about 4,600 words (It’s now 3,900). But is it any good? I have absolutely no idea.

My good friend Helen M Hunt (who critiques short stories professionally) seems to think it’s okay (well she didn’t tell me it was terrible) but how will it stand up against the hundreds (thousands?) of other crime writers who are also submitting stories? I don’t for one second think I stand a chance of getting published, the competition are just too good, but it’s been a good learning experience and, in a weird way, it’s been almost fun feeling those newbie nerves again.

*frantically refreshes email inbox*

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