Six-Word Mystery Contest Rules 2023

Anyone 18 years or older.

All submissions must be in English.

Use only the keys on a standard, computer keyboard (upper/lower-case letters, numbers, punctuation, basic symbols). Emojis, special symbols and other images are not allowed.

Use only grammatically plausible hyphenation; do not create compound words/phrases that would not normally be hyphenated (e.g., never-before-seen-assailant or gold-plated-butcher-knife).

Use the “word count” feature on Word to determine the number of words, which must be exactly six.

Entries open September 1, 2023. All entries must be received by Midnight, Moutntain Time, October 7, 2023.

The entry fee is $6 to enter a mystery in one category or $10 to enter all five categories: Hard-boiled, Cozy, Thriller, Police Procedural, or a mystery with Romance & Lust. After you submit your entry, you will be directed to a link for payment of the entry fee. Any unpaid entries will be deleted and will not be sent to the panel of judges.

Be sure to select your category for each entry on the entry form. Any entry that is submitted without a category listing will be assigned a category by contest officials.

Only five entries are allowed per $10 fee. To submit more than five entries, additional submissions must be made via the website and payment must be made of the additional fee of either $6 or $10 as noted above.

The writer retains copyright of the work but grants RMMWA and Mystery Writers of America license and permission to publish the story on the organizations’ websites and newsletters, and grants license and permission for the entry to be published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.

The winners (overall and in each category) will be decided in a two-step process.

  1. A panel of well-published and highly respected judges will select the top 5 stories in each category.
  2. The top stories in each category, as determined by the judges, will be included in a finalists’ ballot. The winer fr each category, and the over all contest winner, will be decided by a vote of those attending the RMMWA Mystery & Mistletoe holiday party in December 2023 in Denver, Colorado.


The overall winner will receive $100.

Winners in each of the five mystery categories will receive $25 gift cards to the Tattered Cover Bookstore.