Exploring Mystery and Crime Writing with the Young Writers

Last Saturday’s Young Writers workshop offered an opportunity to explore the conventions of crime and mystery writing. We set the scene by having a conversation about Cluedo, invented in 1949 but still enjoyed today for its immersive gameplay that casts the player in the role of the detective, trying to piece together what has occurred and why.

To begin the writing, we offered several short prompts…with around 30 seconds to respond to each. Far from producing perfection, the aim was simply to keep the pen or fingers moving.

After this, we invited the writers to consider the elements of the story they wanted to tell in more detail. The first task was to choose a setting from a list that included a museum, library, lighthouse, or train station as well as some more traditional mystery settings…such as the isolated manor house.

With the location decided, they then had to consider the crime and the characteristics of their sleuth. We offered photographs as inspiration, but it was clear that many participants had their own ideas in mind.

Then the spotlight shifted to the villain, who the writers had to flesh out by identifying any connection to the sleuth, and why the perpetrator might have acted as they did.

We invited the writers to introduce a red herring or two into their stories before asking them to produce a blurb for the piece they had begun during the workshop.

As the workshop finished, a couple of participants volunteered to share their works in progress, offering stories that blended more traditional detective elements with fantasy and contemporary narratives.

We look forward to seeing the writers again for an in-person masterclass on the 9th of December, and the next Zoom workshop on the 13th of January.

Our next Young Writers workshop will take place on Zoom on Saturday 13th January from 10:00am to 12:00pm. Booking information can be found here.