Tuesday, April 10, 2018

SMFS Member Guest Post: Writing Short and Long by Edith Maxwell

Please welcome SMFS member Edith Maxwell to our blog today as she discusses writing in both short and long form. 

Writing Short and Long by Edith Maxwell

I am primarily a book author. I have three series under contract, so I write three books every year. But I also love writing short stories.

Sometimes it’s fun to branch out and write a short story about a new place, with new characters. I did that for my submission to Mystery Most Geographical, this year’s Malice Domestic anthology. I lived in West Africa for two separate years, and the second time (already twenty years ago) I wrote a book of essays about my experiences. I figured no one else would be submitting a story set in rural Burkina Faso to the Malice anthology, so I dusted off one of my essays and turned it into a piece of crime fiction. I’m delighted to say “A Divination of Death” was accepted and the anthology will be out in April.

Most commonly over the last few years I’ve written shorts using the late 1880s characters and setting of my historical series, the Quaker Midwife Mysteries. I can get my midwife Rose Carroll and her sidekick, postmistress Bertie Winslow, into all kinds of new trouble when it’s short form. One crime, one solution, bam. In one of my stories, “Adam and Eva,” (Kings River Life Magazine, 2016) I tell the tale through Bertie’s voice and not Rose’s, although they work together to solve the mystery.

Writing a 300-page book is so much harder in a way than creating a short story. I invariably trudge through the muddle in the middle, even now as I write my 19th novel. I have to keep my arms around everything I’ve written up to that point and still keep the story moving forward until we get to the exciting climax. By now I know I can do it, so I no longer lose hope (well, I do just a little). And I’ve more than once had to kill off a new victim so I can keep the suspense up. I guess I’m doing something right – for two years in a row one of my Quaker Midwife mysteries has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel, with Called to Justice nominated this year. Delivering the Truth was also nominated in the historical category for a Macavity Award last year.

On the other hand, writing a great short story, with nothing superfluous and a twist at the end? That’s a challenge, too. I’ve had several stories nominated for an Agatha Award, “The Mayor and the Midwife” being the most recent, and yes, it features midwife Rose Carroll. But I’ve never won the award, so clearly I have more work to do. Until then, I’m happy to lose to my talented fellow Short Mystery Fiction Society friends.

Edith Maxwell ©2018

Agatha- and Macavity-nominated author Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and award-winning short crime fiction. Called to Justice, Maxwell’s second Quaker Midwife mystery, is nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel. As Maddie Day she writes the popular Country Store Mysteries and the new Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. As Tace Baker she wrote two books in the Lauren Rousseau Mysteries. 

Maxwell is president of Sisters in Crime New England and lives north of Boston with her beau, two elderly cats, and an impressive array of garden statuary. She blogs at WickedCozyAuthors.com, KillerCharacters.com, and Under the Cover of Midnight (http://midnightinkbooks.blogspot.com/). Read about all her personalities and her work at edithmaxwell.com

1 comment:

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi Edith,

Like you, I write both short and long. Recently, I even tried my hand at writing a novella (The Burning). I enjoy the challenge of each form. Novels due to length are much harder to write just as you say. They require more depth in character development and complexity of plot.