View Full Version : Need help with YA writing group...

M. K. McWilliams
04-13-2007, 04:07 AM
...here at the local library in Alaska. The theme is going to be mysteries to coincide with their reading group and a visit from the Alaskan State elect Laureate, John Straley.

So what's this all about? Well, I would like some help and tips for the group. I've volunteered to conduct the writing group and I know a little bit of what I want to do, but my genre is Fantasy. I love reading mysteries but have never written one.

If anyone can give me ideas, suggestions, tips, things I might need other than the usual dictionary and thesaurus stuff you can PM me or reply here.



04-13-2007, 04:47 AM
I'm not sure what you're looking for. Do you want activities to do, or discussion topics?

Soccer Mom
04-13-2007, 06:08 AM
I'm a little puzzled too. Are they going to be writing YA mysteries?

M. K. McWilliams
04-13-2007, 11:20 AM
The writing group will last June through October and at the end of it all they want a Mystery story to present.

What I need are activities and discussion topics relating to the mystery genre. What kind of assignments can I give them since we'll only be meeting once a month. (I might ask to change that. Alot can happen in a month and kids don't always keep up with things.)

I suppose I am also trying to anticipate some of their questions but can't really do that. I know the basics for writing, sentence structure and grammar. I can help them with dialogue, plot, characters, things like that but am wondering how to go about structuring a mystery.

Does that help?

Soccer Mom
04-16-2007, 07:04 AM
I'll bet if you posted this (or asked a mod to move it) in the Mystery/Genre thread, you'd get some very valuable suggestions. A few topics that I can think of to discuss are the different types of mysteries and the elements of those: detective, cozy, police procedural, etc.... A fun excercise might be to find what type of mystery they wanted to write and have them choose a famous detective of that type and write a short story in that style or with that detective. It sounds like a fun and worthwhile group. I'll try to think about the topics more.

04-17-2007, 11:06 PM
One thing you could try is setting up a crime or mystery that hasn't been solved. For example, maybe there's been a kidnapping of an old librarian, an ancient book, and there were clues such as a feather, footprint, etc., etc.

Put these in a room and let the kids walk around the crime scene and get a feel of what could have happened. Now tell them to pick their favorite genre (fantasy in your case) and write a mystery about how it happened. Every one of them will have a different story and viewpoint. All the clues mean something different to each of them, as does what the crime really meant!

The important thing is none of them can discuss their ideas with each other until they are done with their mini-mystery. It not only teaches them to use their own voice in writing, but also shows them that their own life experiences will dictate how they view the world, even how they interpret such random clues. Kids might find themselves writing sci-fi, westerns, romance, comedy, even wizardry to explain the crime. Could be interesting, especially since there are really no boundaries to hold them back in being creative.

Moon Daughter
04-18-2007, 01:05 AM
I'm in a hurry to make it to work so I'm going to be as blunt as possible....foreshadowing.

M. K. McWilliams
04-18-2007, 11:56 PM
I like the crime scene idea. That sounds like it would be entertaining for the kids! Thanks!

04-19-2007, 02:56 AM
Mayb e you could do one of those mystery dinner party games, and afterwards critique things like pacing, misdirection, etc.

M. K. McWilliams
04-19-2007, 12:07 PM
Oooh I've always wanted to do one of those. Yet another good idea. Thanks!

04-19-2007, 03:54 PM
You could do some crime simulations and have the students solve them. Give out fake clues etc. or have do a Murder mystery presentation where they take turns going on stage in small groups and discussing a murder then the rest of the class has to decide, based on clues and interviewing the group on stage, who the perpetrator is. You could also assign them to bring in information to discuss with the class about actual police investigations. I am thinking of taking a forensic investigation workshop just to help me write mysteries.