This past week, I have been researching Victorian traditions, ettiquette and trades possible for women. I am working on a mystery short story and intend to set in the in the second half of the 19th century. Write what you know is often quoted. Well, I know about being female more than male, would prefer the protagonist to be a female. She is a widow, educated and has a trade. (can't be a doctor as it is pre-1870-74 when women - well at least Dr Garrett - were registered as doctors. I don't want a nurse either.) Letter writing and scientific advances, of the time, have also been high on the got-to-get-right list.
This story's theme is mystery/detective; it won't be steampunk or gaslight/gaslamp but most likely a basic, straight forward historical Victorian mystery... though the steampunk is creeping in more and more as I get ideas. I wonder if the competition judges could handle that (they did want an 'everyday' investigator but did not state modern day.)
I have a 1000-3000 word limit for this short story; I think I will need the full 3000 as I have already culled two ideas which would require closer to 5000 words to set out clues and resolve the situation for the characters and the mystery. For inspiration, I have been watching early Poirot (yes, I know it is set much later) Sherlock Holmes, and Murdoch Mysteries.
For now, I have a kernel of an idea for the mystery which I hope is not too non-mundane for the judges. I have an almost fully set out female character with a not very pleasant set of circumstances she will find herself in. Whether they like a speculative fiction piece or not, I shall find out eventually.
Until then, I will try to finish concocting ideas and commit to writing, next week... hopefully.