Collaborative Mystery, Part 1

Welcome to Mystery Month on JPC Allen Writes! All the prompts and tips relate to mysteries. This October is especially exciting for me because I’ll be revealing the cover and promoting the pre-release of my debut YA mystery, A Shadow on the Snow! As part of the celebration, I’m trying something new with my prompts for Monday Sparks. All the photos this month will be prompts for a collaborative mystery.

What is a collaborative mystery? Collaborative fiction is when multiple authors write different parts of one story. Here’s how it will work on my blog:

  • I’ll write two or three sentences in the comments to start the mystery.
  • Anyone who wants to may write two or three more sentences.
  • Please no graphic content.
  • Next week, I’ll take the last sentences in the comments from this week and repeat them as the lead sentence for the next photo prompt.
  • By the end of the month, we’ll have a story!

Who wants to be part of a collaborative mystery, part 1?

What’s the Mystery?

Last prompt of my month of mysteries! I chose a photo that could inspire a Halloween mystery, either a straight whodunit or a mystery with a supernatural twist.

What’s the mystery? Here’s my take:

“Okay, we’ve been in every room.” My cousin Made hurried to the front door, gathering her long skirt in her hands. “Now can we please go before the cops catch us in here?”

“We haven’t been in the basement.” Ava adjusted her gray-streaked wig.

“That’s not a room.” Made had her hand on the doorknob. “It’s a floor. The dare just said every room.”

“Oh, come on.” I started down the stairs, my flashlight highlighting every gross cobweb and dirt-caked corner. “It’ll take only one more minute, and then I can shove Erin’s dare in her face.”

The stairs creaked behind me as Madi and Ava followed. At the bottom was one closed door. I stopped, my breath coming short. I’d thought the basement would be open, like mine at home. I didn’t expect a separate room.

“What are you waiting for?” Ava said in my ear.

“Nothing.” The word was hoarse, but I took another step.

A thud reached us, and Ava and I jerked like it was a punch that had landed on each of us. Madi screamed.

Another thud, this time with wood cracking under it, and the door at the bottom of the stairs shook.

What’s the Mystery?

Another photo to prompt another mystery. What’s the mystery about a burning building in a cemetery? Here’s my beginning:

Even though Jace and I stood like a football field away, we could still feel the heat of the fire that ate up the caretaker’s building in the Union Cemetery.

Lots of people had come into the cemetery to watch: Father Mihalic, Mrs. Hudson, who worked as a janitor at our school, mean, old Mr. Olsen, Mayor Coleman, some other kids on their way to the middle school.

Jace elbowed me. “Did you see the mayor?”

“You can’t miss him.”

He was closer than anybody to the fire, except the firefighters, walking fast, back and forth, shouting if they were sure Mr. Delaney hadn’t been in the building.

“Mayor Coleman’s acting real upset,” said Jace. “Do you think he’s scared he killed Mr. Delaney when he set fire to the place?”

I tried to remember what we’d seen in the early dawn when we’d left the house because Dad had finally come home.

I shook my head. “I think he’s scared he didn’t.”

What’s the Mystery?

This photo looks perfect to prompt a scene from romantic suspense, in which a couple fall in love while trying to solve a mystery or fight a crime. If you love romantic suspense, what’s the mystery this couple could be involved in?

Romantic suspense is a subgenre of crime fiction I rarely enjoy. So this photo inspires me to take a twist on it.

We pounded down the concrete, under the road, Sean’s breath harsher than mine own.

We had to catch them. Had to. They were the key to the rest of our lives together.

Sean darted up a flight of stairs, and I followed him. If I had to be in this mess, I was glad he was in it with me. No one else had his courage and determination.

We raced along a catwalk that ran beside the deserted road. Below and ahead, two figures came into view.

Sean kicked up the pace. If he could just get close enough …

One figure stumbled, and the second bent over.

Sean stopped and raised his gun.

If he could kill them now, we’d be safe. No one would ever suspect my husband’s death was anything but an accident.

Sean fired.

What’s the Mystery?

October is mystery month on my blog. What’s the mystery this photo might inspire? Here’s my idea:

The two men talked as they walked, but they seemed more focused on each sound that made them glance over their shoulders or peer toward the end of the tunnel.

“It’s all set then?” said the younger man.

“Unless you have any more questions.” The older man adjusted his hat.

“Just one.” The young man stopped. “Should we go through with it?”

The moisture dripped from the ceiling of the tunnel.

His head bent, the older man said, “What choice do we have?” He jerked upright. “Someone ran across the entrance.”

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