Mystery Story Writing Activities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Many students find mystery writing captivating and engaging. This lesson offers some activities that will get students thinking about how to write strong mystery stories.

Writing Mysteries with Students

Mysteries lend themselves to the writing process since they require careful planning and thoughtful revisions. Mysteries are also exciting and offer plenty of opportunities for experimentation with language, structure and literary devices. This lesson offers you some activities that will help you get your students going as mystery writers. The activities should be modified to meet the age, sophistication level, interests and abilities of the students in your class.

Activities for Character

Character development can play a major part in mysteries. These activities will help your students build and think about their characters.

Draw Your Characters

Before students start writing, ask them to choose two or three main characters to focus on. These might be protagonists, criminals or supporting characters. Have students envision their characters and sketch pictures of them in their notebooks. Under each picture, ask students to write at least five character traits that go with the characters. Let students share their work and talk about how they will express the character traits in their writing.

Motivation

In mysteries, motivation is key. What makes someone commit a crime? What motivates someone to try to solve it? Help your students create charts in their notebooks. One column should list characters' names. A second column should list motivations, and a third column should list actions. For instance, students might develop a character named Greg. They might imagine that Greg is motivated by money, and that as a result he steals from all of his friends. Have students complete the chart for all of the major characters they plan to include.

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