Mini Mystery Writing Contest

“The perennial questions in the Osage land is, ‘who will be next?'”
-Daily Oklahoman reporter, quoted in “Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann

Photo of William Hale

Many members of the Osage Nation in 1920s Oklahoma lived in constant fear for their lives. They lost many friends and family to murders that were seldom solved or fairly investigated. Taking inspiration from this history as presented in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” we invite you to use the line, “Who will be next?” as a springboard for — and the first sentence of — a mini mystery story of your own. While the experiences of those in our One Read book were very real, your mystery can be completely fiction. The puzzle presented or the crime solved can be large (like a murder) or small (like missing possessions), but the writing must be about a crime or the threat or fear of one. The length limit for these mini mysteries is 250 words.

Enter starting August 31 using this form. You can also mail in your entry or drop it off at any library or bookmobile stop. (See full rules below for details.) Winning entries and honorable mentions will be published on this site and in the Columbia Missourian. Winners will receive a $25 bookstore gift card.

Participants must be age 16 or older and residents of Boone or Callaway Counties. Read on for complete contest rules.

Contest Rules


  • The contest is open to those 16 years of age and older.
  • Participants must reside within the DBRL service area (Boone or Callaway County, Missouri).

Contest Deadline

  • Entries will be accepted from August 31 – September 25. (Mailed entries must be postmarked by September 25.)

Submission Requirements and Guidelines

  • One entry per individual.
  • Submissions must be 250 words or less in length.
  • Submissions must be in English.
  • Submissions must include writer’s name, age, address and email address or phone number for eligibility verification and contact purposes.
  • Entries must be in text format and typed.
  • Entries may be submitted through the online form or by mail (DBRL, ATTN: Kat/One Read Writing Contest, PO Box 1267, Columbia, MO 65205), or dropped off at a DBRL location.
  • Submissions must be original, unpublished works.
  • Each participant must be the sole author and exclusive owner of all right, title and interest in and to his or her submission.
  • DBRL’s publication and use of the submission in accordance with the terms set out herein will not infringe or violate the rights of any third party (including copyright), or require any payment to or consent/permission from any third party.

Content Restrictions

  • The submission must not contain any material that is inappropriate, indecent, profane, obscene, hateful, tortious, defamatory, slanderous or libelous.
  • The submission must not contain any material that promotes bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any group or individual or promotes discrimination based on race, gender, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.
  • The submission must not contain any material that is unlawful, in violation of or contrary to the laws or regulations in any jurisdiction where the submission is created.
  • The submission must not contain any commercial content that promotes any product or service of the sponsor or any third party.


  • Entries will be evaluated and the winners chosen based on creativity, grammar and emotion evoked by the writing, as well as adherence to the guidelines outlined above.
  • Two winners will be announced by October 17.
  • Winning entries and those receiving honorable mentions will appear on the One Read website.
  • Winners will be notified by phone or email and will each receive a $25 bookstore gift certificate.


6 thoughts on “Mini Mystery Writing Contest”

  1. I am not sure, based on the description of the mini mystery writing contest, if it is required to be about an actual crime. Can it be a mystery where a crime was not committed?

  2. Hi Terry,
    It does not necessarily have to be about a crime that was committed, it could instead be about the threat or fear of a potential crime. Just remember it has to start with the line “Who will be next?”

    Happy writing!

  3. How about this definition of a crime?

    an action or activity that, although not illegal, is considered to be evil, shameful, or wrong. “they condemned apartheid as a crime against humanity”

    I ask because I have written about something that is not a legal crime but is a “crime” against my values. Is that appropriate?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.