'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

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Comments

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep June 2, 2014 - 7:01am

From previous experience, the earlier you get your submission in the better. More time in front of readers, etc. In past challenges, you could update your story after your original submission. I've done this to fix errors I found.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 2, 2014 - 7:14am

Thanks for the advice Ethan. Just submitted my entry and hopefully it'll be stronger after the kicking it gets lol. Happy writing everyone.

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk June 2, 2014 - 7:43am

Bit of a daft question, where do I submit me story? Is there a link I'm missing or I'm just being plain dappy again.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this June 2, 2014 - 8:02am

I've updated this post with a link to the submission page--and a little later we'll be putting up another post, too, with a link and explanation and etc. 

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk June 2, 2014 - 8:17am

Cheers Rob :)

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics June 2, 2014 - 3:41pm

I am a computer idiot. I really am. I also like to speak before I think, hence the required edit of the original content of this comment.

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 June 2, 2014 - 7:54pm

I started a story that really didn't work in the long run, then I remembered some crazy stuff about this guy who grew up in my neighborhood. I grew up around some rather unsavory types. Gonna get this one down easy peasy nice and squeezy. 

 

sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres June 5, 2014 - 5:49pm

Hey, I'm curious...due to events from previous writing challenges, are there going to be any safeguards put into place to make sure people aren't creating multiple fake accounts, then padding their own story with likes and spreading out a bunch of dislikes?

The only reason I ask is that I know it happened before. 

But, I mean, these are crime writers, right? Real top of the heap, salt of the earth, moral folks, right? *checks over shoulder*

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this June 5, 2014 - 6:40pm

Sean--We keep an eye on things on the admin side and we're vigilant as we can be. There's no such thing as a perfect system but we're commited to bouncing cheaters out on their asses. 

sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres June 6, 2014 - 7:10am

Cool...

In that case, don't any of you steal my idea for a story about people cheating on an internet writing challenge! It will be filled with mystery and intrigue...and lots of sex!

(Except minus the sex)

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep June 12, 2014 - 2:22pm

First draft: 5,648 words.

Ah, and here is where this challenge has really helped me. When you have to delete over 10% of your story while still trying to maintain some semblence of flavor to the prose, you really get studious about what words are *absolutely* necessary to get the story told.

You become a malevolent dictator, mercilessly executing innocent words that aren't productive enough. Never mind that you put them there in the first place!

So cruel.

Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb June 17, 2014 - 12:16pm

^ So the author of 'Anomaly' returns. Looking forward to your entry already.

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep June 19, 2014 - 9:40pm

Despite my intention to not participate in the challenge so I could focus on my primary writing project, I somehow participated anyway. Weak will?

 

DaJoHi's picture
DaJoHi from MA is reading Wool (1-5) June 30, 2014 - 9:20am

Does the submission period end at midnight on June 30th (tonight) or is there time for revisions on July 1st up until midnight? I only ask this because I'm near the end of a revision and don't think it will be ready by midnight tonight.

 

Thanks

herlit11's picture
herlit11 October 31, 2014 - 9:58am

Hi, guys

When do we get to know the winner?

Best

Hernan

Eddie McNamara's picture
Eddie McNamara from NYC is reading High as the Horse's Bridles November 2, 2014 - 6:43am

Thuglit Issue #14 came out yesterday. The winner is in it.

My story "Authenti City" is also in the issue, but I got in the old fashioned way...by submitting. 

Eddie McNamara's picture
Eddie McNamara from NYC is reading High as the Horse's Bridles November 2, 2014 - 6:43am

Thuglit Issue #14 came out yesterday. The winner is in it.

My story "Authenti City" is also in the issue, but I got in the old fashioned way...by submitting.