For Round 2 of the 2014 NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge, I was assigned to write a mystery that took place on a mini-golf course and included a bullet.
I knew immediately I didn't want to write a murder mystery, which would be the logical choice for any story involving a bullet. But I didn't want to spend time and words on proper police procedure and crime scene investigation. Also, I'm not a big fan of blood and guts.
So what kind of mystery did that leave? I quickly settled on a missing child. The plot quickly took shape from there. The characters, though, were another story. Not the main characters--Kate and Randy and little Jeremy came to me almost fully formed. The supporting characters, though, were another story, especially Joe and Elliott.
In my first draft, Elliott was incompetent, being carried by the more capable Joe--who was gristly and disgruntled. But Elliott nagged at me. I heard him in my head telling me over and over that he was young but he was able. He had to be, to rise to the position of manager. So that was the first change: Elliott got good at his job. Joe, then, became less of a hard-ass. His job became much easier, much less stressful, now that didn't have to carry his boss.
I submitted Draft 2 as my official entry, and I admit to being fairly satisfied with the story. The judges generally liked it, too. But they felt it could be more suspenseful.
Enter my helpful group of Scribblers, who I tasked with ways to increase the suspense in the story. Voilà! The current version of "Missing" was born.
Click here to read "Missing."