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Mystery Writing: A Writing With Writers Activity

This workshop with a published mystery writer offers tips, strategies, and challenges to help students craft a successful mystery.


1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Activity Type

  • Writing Activities

The Mystery Writing workshop, part of Scholastic’s Writing With Writers series, gives students the unique opportunity to learn mystery writing from a pro. Published writer Joan Lowery Nixon walks students through a five-step program offering tips, strategies, and challenges to help students craft a spooky story.

Step 1: A Mystery by Me
Students can read Joan Lowery Nixon’s “A Purr-fect Mystery” to get acquainted with this genre of writing.

Step 2: Writing Tips
Joan offers 10 tips to help students brainstorm, including focusing on the main character, making a list of clues to use in the story, and incorporating suspense.

Step 3: Writing Challenges
Joan poses three activities that help students start their mysteries: write your opening sentence, create your characters, and develop suspense.

Step 4: Revision Guidelines
Students can use Joan’s eight tips for revising, from reading it aloud to making sure you haven’t used the same word two or three times in the same paragraph.

Learning Objectives

Scholastic's online activities are designed to support the teaching of standards-based skills. While participating in Mystery Writing: A Writing With Writers Activity, students become proficient with several of these skills:

  • Identify unique characteristics of different writing genres
  • Follow the writing process for different genres to create original writing
  • Use web technology to post original writing online
  • Demonstrate understanding of different genres by responding to questions
  • Understand how to review and revise their own writing
  • Review and present constructive criticism to peer writing
  • Learn to think critically and objectively about their reading
  • Learn to review and revise their own writing
  • Produce written work to show evidence of knowledge of the different genres


Mystery Writing With Joan Lowery Nixon was written in 2001. Scholastic regrets to inform users that Ms. Nixon died on June 28, 2003.

Susan Cheyney

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