Devising a Detective Story in the “Mini-Mysteries” Workshop

Photo courtesy of TV Series Finale

Photo courtesy of TV Series Finale

Have you ever wondered how to get away with a crime? Well, students who attended the “Mini-Mysteries” workshop learned how to write a compelling murder mystery! In the words of Jessica Fletcher, a detective character from the hit TV Show, Murder, She Wrote, “I don’t want to alarm you, but something very sinister is going on here.” The workshop started off innocently enough as students were read a short murder mystery story, then discussed who they thought the culprit was with each other. Then, Mrs. Beal showed an episode of Murder, She Wrote entitled “Murder Takes the Bus.” For a final project, students were encouraged to write a short murder mystery story of their own. 

Murder, She Wrote is a crime drama television show that aired from 1984 to 1996. Its main character, Jessica Fletcher, was played by Angela Lansbury. The show follows Jessica, a mystery author and amateur detective, as she encounters several murder mysteries and attempts to solve them. Each episode follows the formula of a typical story in the mystery genre. Mystery fiction in writing, for example, focuses on a murder or crime to be solved, and a detective character has to determine the perpetrator among a number of suspects. The plot of a mystery fiction story is often convoluted and suspenseful to the reader, usually consisting of plot twists and red herrings. 

These plots require intricate planning and are great practice for both beginning and advanced writers. “Writing is thinking. It is one of the best ways to work the brain in regard to critical thinking and problem solving, and it builds organizational skills that everyone needs,” Mrs. Beal says. “And mysteries, since they are really the culmination of two separate plot lines (the one that readers get and what actually happened – the antagonist’s tale), it requires the kind of thinking that students need to practice.”  

As the “Mini Mysteries” workshop came to a close, it was only the beginning for these students. Many tried their hand in writing a short mystery fiction piece and were introduced to the joy of creative writing. Hopefully, this thrilling conclusion will encourage these writers to delve even deeper into fiction and continue to hone their skills. Move out of the way, Sherlock Holmes – the writers are on the case!