View Full Version : Need ideas with a YA writing group...

M. K. McWilliams
04-17-2007, 02:52 AM
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.

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.


Kate Thornton
04-17-2007, 06:37 PM
Maybe start short - short mysteries can have the elements (puzzle, puzzle-solution and solver) that novel-length mysteries have. Introduce them to the concept of "writing backwards" - structuring the ending first. Emphasize character, too. Locked room puzzles are intriguing, and not all mysteries have to involve murder.

Have them read a few short mysteries in preparation: a Sherlock Homes (Copper Beeches is good) whatever is in the current Womans World magazine and an issue of Ellery Queen or Alfred Hitchcock.

Will this be a group effort or individual stories?

M. K. McWilliams
04-18-2007, 06:19 AM
Group effort. It will be worked on over the course of the summer and should be finished by October.

Kate Thornton
04-18-2007, 06:02 PM
Okay, a group effort is more difficult - but allows for more critique, too! Maybe get everyone to do some reading first, then suggest plots for the story. It will take a while just to get consensus there, I would guess. Then stres the importance of character, setting & the actual mystery and its solution. Best of luck, and keep us posted!

M. K. McWilliams
04-19-2007, 12:00 AM
Thanks Kate! I will keep you posted. Under the Writing for YA section, someone suggested making a crime scene and having the kids write about it. I've got the basics of writing of course, but I've never written mysteries so I just needed a little help. Thanks for that!

05-04-2007, 08:39 AM
YA version of CLUE?