Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mystery Monday #20

Welcome to our regular Monday feature, where you'll find different kinds of writing prompts and exercises. Each week, we'll give you something to help exercise your mystery-writing muscles.

Our Tuesday theme this month is sleuths in mysteries for young readers. So today's prompt is designed to help you start dreaming up a fictional investigator, OR to get to know your main character better if you have a mystery in progress. 

Here are some questions. You can write answers in your own voice, or interrogate your fictional sleuth and answer in his or her own voice.
  • What is your young sleuth's name? Any nicknames? How does your sleuth feel about this name?
  • What does your young sleuth look like? Does he like his appearance? What, if anything, would she change? Does the sleuth's appearance or self-esteem impact her ability to carry out amateur detective work and solve a crime?
  • What would the sleuth like to study in college, or to be when he/she grows up? Is the sleuth already a professional-in-training? (Taking EMT courses? Devouring law books or forensic textbooks in her spare time? Or is the sleuth pursuing something that seems unlikely to lead to an investigative career . . . like ice hockey?)
  • How does your sleuth generally react under pressure? Is she confrontational? Does he avoid confrontation . . . or flee?
  • What is your sleuth's primary motivation to solve a mystery or stop a crime? (For more ideas on motivations, see my post on this topic from two weeks ago).
  • What are some age-appropriate challenges or obstacles this young sleuth faces in trying to solve a mystery? (For more ideas on challenges/obstacles particular to teen and pre-teen sleuths, see last Tuesday's post on this topic).
  • What is the sleuth's general personality type? Is this sleuth more introverted or extroverted? Shy or congenial? How might personality impact her ability to do detective work?
  • What skills or abilities does the sleuth have? List as many as you can think of, from piano playing to good listening skills. Then circle those that might come in handy for amateur detective work.
  • What are the sleuth's weaknesses? List as many as you can think of, then circle those that might get in the way of amateur detective work.
  • What does the sleuth fear more than anything? Why?
  • What makes this sleuth really, really angry? Why?
  • List significant life experiences that have affected the sleuth so far, both positive and negative. For example, moving cross-country, getting lost in Europe, throwing up in front of everyone at a party, etc. Could any of these events -- or the people involved in them -- relate to a mystery or crime that the sleuth will investigate?
  • Does the sleuth have a secret or a dark past? What is it? What would happen if anyone found out?
  • Who could the young sleuth turn to for help? Are there adults or resources available? 
  • Does this sleuth fly solo, or is he/she a team player? Will the sleuth work best alone, with one sidekick, with multiple sidekicks at different times, or with a group? (Or with an animal?) 
Now write a short biography of your sleuth, either in your narrative voice or in the sleuth's voice. 

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