My writing desk. Keyboard, mouse, glasses, tools, pencil, and so on.
My writing desk. Keyboard, mouse, glasses, tools, pencil, and so on.
Who Dun It?

Many writers have drafted up a set of “rules” for how to write and, specifically, how to write mysteries. Allow me to toss in my five cents on the matter. My qualifications are: I write mystery short stories, I’ve sold about 30 of them to print magazines and anthologies over the last few years, and I’ve been nominated for a handful of mystery writing awards: Edgar, Derringer, and Thriller (last year, I won the Rose Trophy).

The following “rules” can equally apply to short stories or novels.

First rule of mystery writing: There MUST be a mystery.

Readers KEEP reading…

There have been many lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic and its subsequent lock downs and government-enforced social distancing, and for software/IT companies, one of those lessons has been that, yes, your entire staff can function fully and work successfully from home.

“It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”
Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species

It hasn’t really been a lesson…

I’ve been thinking lately about what I do for fun (and a little bit of profit). I like to make stuff up. I routinely write about people and events, conflicts and conundrums, and barely a word of it is true. My stories are mostly cut from the whole cloth of my imagination.

And that said, people read what I write and believe every word.

Bless them. Note: Believe is a fluid term.

I’m no exception. Every writer of FICTION is granted this privilege. And it’s a privilege we work with carefully, because if we stretch our fiction too much, too…

The process of writing a book or short story is as varied as there are authors. Everyone has a different method. I want to briefly talk about how I go about the business of write (I recently mentioned in social media that I always write five drafts, and someone asked me to explain). And I didn’t always used to write this way. My five draft method has evolved over the years and become a thing. The last dozen short stories I wrote were all five draft works, and the book I’m currently writing will be a five draft job.

DRAFT ZERO: The game is afoot…


by Stephen Ross

I first became aware my neighbor was a killer one day after her husband disappeared. I saw her in her backyard with a shovel and a smile as radiant as summer.

I asked her: “Are you putting down a new potato patch?”

“No,” she said. “I’m burying my husband.”

“What happened to him?”

“I murdered him.”

She then spent three hours digging a hole six feet deep.

Afterward, I brought her coffee and cake, and I invited her to go and see a movie. She accepted.

It’s funny how things sometimes work out. And I finally got my lawnmower back.

©2017 Stephen Ross (all rights reserved)

by Stephen Ross

I met a man while I was out walking. It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon at the end of October, and I was walking through the woods near my house, on the pathway that ran along the length of the river. It was a lonely, deserted place; just how I liked things to be.

“Your name is John, isn’t it?” the man inquired, as he approached from the other direction.


I had never seen the man before. He was middle-aged, with thinning, gray hair. I found no familiarity in his face: an ugly, unshaven face. …

In the late summer of 1988, I spent a week living inside a novel. I was staying with a friend (Albert), who himself was staying with a friend (Victoria), at a dilapidated farmhouse on the edge of a town that didn’t seem to have anyone in it or even a name. There was a school house, closed for the summer (or maybe forever), and a general store that had a CLOSED sign in its door (also probably forever). The town was about forty minutes out of Hamilton (New Zealand), in a direction I couldn’t tell you.

A long dirt track…

Stephen Ross

Writer, etc.

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