'Arrest Us' - Announcing LitReactor's Crime Fiction Writing Challenge

Arrest Us, Crime, News, Prompts, Site, Writing Challenge

Crime fiction is the literary genre that fictionalizes crimes, their detection, criminals and their motives. It is usually distinguished from mainstream fiction and other genres such as science fiction or historical fiction, but boundaries can be, and indeed are, blurred... (Wikipedia)


In 2012, we launched a public writing challenge, soliciting tales of bone-chilling terror with Scare Us. Then, in 2013, we went off-world with Teleport Us, our science fiction writing challenge.

It's 2014. Time for another challenge. Now we want you to Arrest Us with some down-and-dirty crime fiction! 

The opportunities here are endless. You can do noir or hardboiled or cozy or heist or espionage or locked-room mystery. You can gross us out or break our hearts. You can comment on the justice system or give us a good laugh. Crime fiction offers a rich tapestry of situation and emotion, and it's a great opportunity to dig to the root of a character—it often involves people in their worst moments, and there's no better time to get an accurate measure of a person than when they've hit bottom. 

Just like last time, this is a public contest. You don't have to be a paying member to participate. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or a seasoned wordsmith. Even if it's the first story you've ever written—anyone can submit. Also, anyone can read and rate stories, and offer comments and criticism.

And, as before, we're going to offer prizes and rewards...

Grand Prize: Publication in Thuglit!

Thuglit, edited by Todd Robinson—author of The Hard Bounce—delivers first-rate crime fiction in print and digital formats once every two months. "A Good Marriage" by Ed Kurtz, originally published in Thuglit issue 5, was recently picked for The Best American Mystery Stories 2014.

After the dust has settled here, Todd is going to read through the top-rated stories and pick three to run in future issues of Thuglit. And you'll be paid just like the rest of the contributors. 

Writer prize packs!

As before, we'll be asking accomplished authors and editors to read and comment on stories.

But it's going to be a little more exclusive than in previous challenges. Each person we enlist will only read and comment on one story. As for who's going to do it, and the selection process—well, we don't want to unveil everything just yet...

Reader prize packs!

We want to reward the people who read and rate stories too. So we've enlisted Mulholland, Broken River, Hard Case Crime, and MysteriousPress.com, to donate grab-bags of books.

The five most prolific raters will get a selection of books, picked at random, by one of these excellent publishers of crime fiction!

Run of show

Monday, June 2: The challenge opens, and you can begin submitting stories. The reading period opens on this date, too. 

Tuesday, July 1: The challenge closes to submissions, but the reading period remains open.

Friday, August 1: The reading period ends, and we start the process of sorting out of the prizes. 

Story parameters

You can't just write whatever you want. There are caveats.

First, you've got your word count: 3,000 to 5,000 words. Go over or under at your own risk; as soon as you do, it's out of the running for the prizes. Sorry, but thems the breaks. 

Now for the fun part. In the past we've given you prompts. Things your story needed to include to qualify. We're not going to do that this time.

Instead, we talked to Todd about the tropes that he sees far too often in stories that are submitted to Thuglit. And we're going to make you write a story without using any of them. So here are the things your story cannot include:

No Italian mafia

No hitmen (or hitwomen)

No sex crimes

No serial killers

Anything else is fair game. 

Questions? Ask in the comments.

Otherwise, start writing... submissions open in less than a month!

UPDATE: The submission window is open! Do that here

Image of THUGLIT Issue 11
Author: Matthew McBride, Jessica Adams, Angel Luis Colón Luis Colón, Scott Grand, Kenneth Levine, Michael Cebula, J. David Gonzalez, Max Sheridan
Price: $6.99
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2014)
Binding: Paperback, 150 pages

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Comments

Angel Colón's picture
Angel Colón from The Bronx now living in New Jersey is reading A Big Ol' Pile of Books May 19, 2014 - 7:42am

Nice! Get in on this, folks!

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Stories of YOUR Life May 19, 2014 - 7:45am

I'm super pumped about this, and I can't even participate. Kirk looks FIERCE in his balaclava.

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun May 19, 2014 - 7:50am

Rawr

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk May 19, 2014 - 7:55am

Sweeeet! I'm all over this one!

Been kinda struggling to get my latest story over the line but this is really giving me the kick up the arse I need!

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies May 19, 2014 - 10:00am

wow

SConley's picture
SConley from Texas is reading Coin Locker Babies May 19, 2014 - 11:43am

I don't know how to write a story without hitmen.

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 19, 2014 - 12:27pm

The rules say nothing about hitponies.

^future regretted suggestion

Angel Colón's picture
Angel Colón from The Bronx now living in New Jersey is reading A Big Ol' Pile of Books May 19, 2014 - 12:30pm

And now I fear brony-noir will happen.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Stories of YOUR Life May 19, 2014 - 12:41pm

And now I fear brony-noir will happen.

This MUST happen. Also, I take no responsibility if you submit a Brony story and lose.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland May 19, 2014 - 1:17pm

I'm definitely up for this!

leah_beth's picture
leah_beth from New Jersey - now in Charleston, SC is reading five different books at once. May 19, 2014 - 1:18pm

This is so fabulous it hurts!!!!! Good luck to everyone!

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest May 19, 2014 - 3:07pm

Finally!!!

EdVaughn's picture
EdVaughn from Louisville, Ky is reading a whole bunch of different stuff May 19, 2014 - 4:12pm

Yes! Been hoping for this. The prizes are pretty damn sweet, too.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books May 19, 2014 - 4:31pm

Nice!

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On May 19, 2014 - 4:44pm

Hell yeah!

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami May 19, 2014 - 5:29pm

That's a shame, I'm more a flash fiction girl. (That or novellas.)

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers May 19, 2014 - 8:02pm

I'm going to play this time around. Researching for ideas this week, gonna crunch out a draft next week. 

Candice J Fox's picture
Candice J Fox May 19, 2014 - 11:56pm

Are non-American authors welcome?

JonathanC's picture
JonathanC from Ireland is reading a whole lot of stuff! always. May 20, 2014 - 1:42am

Awesome!!

 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) May 20, 2014 - 2:18am

I think I proved conclusively in the first Battle that crime fiction is not my strength. Still, every contest needs a whipping boy so I'd better start writing.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 20, 2014 - 7:50am

Candice--of course!

tobygibbons87's picture
tobygibbons87 from Liverpool/London is reading Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman May 20, 2014 - 8:44am

This might seem obvious but ... no Italian mafia doesn't extend to 'mafia' or 'gangs' or 'the mob' in general does it?

Jeff's picture
Jeff from Florida is reading Another Side of Bob Dylan by Victor Maymudes May 20, 2014 - 1:11pm

Oh cool, so the Reactor's contest series resumes, eh? Been lookin' forward to this. 

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 20, 2014 - 1:19pm

Toby--

Yakuza? OK. MS-13? OK. Italians? NO BUENO. 

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest May 20, 2014 - 1:25pm

No hitmen. No hitwomen. Hit-tranny? He's got tits that kill, and the balls to use them.

Angel Colón's picture
Angel Colón from The Bronx now living in New Jersey is reading A Big Ol' Pile of Books May 20, 2014 - 1:28pm

Moon, I feel like hit-tranny can be folded into the Brony-noir story.

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest May 20, 2014 - 1:33pm

That would be going full brony. You never go full brony. Never.

WilliamGrit's picture
WilliamGrit May 20, 2014 - 1:42pm

I'll bring the DAMN cupcakes

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest May 20, 2014 - 4:36pm

Question: can these stories be workshopped or revised based on reviews after the initial posting and resubmitted before the deadline? And, are LBL's okay or is a simple review sufficient enough?

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like May 20, 2014 - 9:23pm

+

Gareth Spark's picture
Gareth Spark from Whitby is reading The Bayou Trilogy May 21, 2014 - 2:00am

On it!

 

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 21, 2014 - 9:07am

R.Moon--yes you can!

Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works May 21, 2014 - 6:29pm

Great news! 

Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works May 21, 2014 - 6:33pm

One of the best parts of these challenges is all the silly questions ppl ask about the rules. ; D

Eddie McNamara's picture
Eddie McNamara from NYC is reading High as the Horse's Bridles May 22, 2014 - 7:06am

Aroraphobic-Hasidic-Dominatrix-Con Woman?

 

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. May 23, 2014 - 7:34am

Well now ... There goes my free time for the entire month of June ;)

klahol's picture
klahol from Stockholm, Sweden is reading Black Moon May 23, 2014 - 10:47pm

Sweeeeeet! Now to find some good inspiration. Tips? 

 

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 24, 2014 - 7:01am

A lot of my short stories are inspired by reading the news. The Times did a piece on the cutthroat food truck industry in NYC: Boom. Short story. Which, incidentally, will be in the next issue of Thuglit. 

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep May 24, 2014 - 9:05am

Process:

1. Find out about Arrest Us.
2. Scare Us and Teleport Us were awesome, but decide I can't be distracted from primary writing project this time around.
3. Tell friend about writing challenge.
4. Friend states, "...wondering what kind of nastiness my mind is going to drudge up for Arrest Us."
5. Muse takes note, and starts feeding me story ideas like a plot-generating super computer. Despite the fact that it's 3am, she won't shut up. Never written crime-fiction before, but she thinks she's an expert. (She's not.)
6. Give in. Launch graphic program, draw cover.
7. Sigh.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 24, 2014 - 9:46am

DO IT!

Seriously, crime fiction is so malleable. So many storytelling opportunities. It'll be a blast. 

Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb May 24, 2014 - 11:20am

I've read my share of crime fiction and I kind of blur the genre into my sci-fi stuff, but I've never tried a short story in the crime genre at all. But hold up lads, I've got an idea...

One question though before I try it out: can I write the story in the form of a letter?

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 25, 2014 - 1:00pm

I would say if you can call it a short story, and it fits the criteria, it counts. We're looking to include as much as we can, not exclude, so I would say if it isn't specifically forbidden above, you're free to surprise us.

Joe Wai's picture
Joe Wai May 26, 2014 - 2:25am

Is it open for people from other countries as well? :)

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things May 26, 2014 - 9:45am

Absolutely, Joe.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore May 29, 2014 - 6:36am

Wanna take wagers on who'll be the first to submit a story about a crime writer entering a crime-writing contest?

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep May 29, 2014 - 9:13am

Wow, there's a coincidence. Mine just happens to be about a person who wagers on crime writers entering crime fiction writing contests. And let me tell you, it's sordid.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore May 29, 2014 - 9:59am

How very meta.

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics May 31, 2014 - 7:47am

I looked over the reqs twice, but still may have missed this: can we write more than one story for contest consideration or is the first story submitted automatically the only one considered for the contest? Prolly a dumb question, but hey...

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 31, 2014 - 8:44am

You're probably best served by putting everything you've got into one story. 

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics May 31, 2014 - 9:58am

Yeah, I figured as much, I just wonder why anyone would submit right away when they can take the duration of the submission window to perfect one story . Or is part of this that the writers are to rework their submissions after receiving reviews? Sorry if these questions are dumb, despite my best intentions, I never participated in the previous permutations of this.