Good mysteries are fun because they keep the reader guessing. One of the most important keys of writing a mystery is writing the story so the reader can try to solve it. Nothing’s more annoying than not being given clues to solve the mystery unless those clues are so obvious that there is no real mystery to be solved. The best way to achieve both goals is to give quality clues but constantly keep the reader guessing so they don’t recognize the clues for what they are.
Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston is an excellent mentor text for how to interweave backstory, using multiple techniques, without slowing down the story one bit.
To find good mentor text for “tension till the bitter end,” I went directly to one of my most beloved authors—Agatha Christie. Yes, I know. She’s not a middle grade author. However, when I was in my middle grade years, I devoured her books. Surely, that counts. Plus, for a mentor text, why not go straight to the Queen of Mystery?
I love exploring what it’s like to be twelve years old, an age where you’re not quite a kid or a teenager. It’s such a transitional time, and can be full of so much drama. (My middle school days certainly were!)
The strongest novels have main characters who not only want something but want something with serious stakes involved. In All the Impossible Things, Red’s stakes are whether she will ever have a home that truly fits.
craft review by Sonya Doernberg One of the important decisions we have to make as writers is how to narrate our middle grade story. Using first-person point-of-view allows the reader to see events through the narrator’s eyes. Second-person POV, which is rarely used, makes the reader feel like a character in the story. The third-person […]
craft review by Kristi Wright A few months back, while chatting with fellow authors, I proposed that when writing a mystery, it was important to keep the tension going till the bitter end about “whodunit!” I quickly realized that this isn’t a hard and fast rule—we all have beloved mysteries that reveal the identity of […]
craft review by Jen Jobart One of the reasons that Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman is such an intriguing read is that its cast of engaging characters expresses common archetypes–the character roles that universally populate stories. Bertram’s novel follows twelve-year-old Emily, new to San Francisco, as she follows clues in a mysterious book that […]
craft review by Kat St. Claire Like a British Cozy mystery, Kate Milford’s tale about an inn filled with guests hiding secrets guides the reader to the final answer, with plenty of questions and misdirection. Milo, the adopted son of the inn’s owners, must discover these secrets to solve the mysteries that surround the inn […]
craft review by Sonya Doernberg New York City, 1872. Fourteen-year-old Horace Carpetine, a photographer’s apprentice, notices a girl standing outside the studio’s gate. She seems to appear magically out of the thick fog that envelops New York City. The two talk briefly about scheduling a photography session before the girl “vanishes into the mist as […]