Nancy's Books

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Writing Mysteries/Calls for Submissions

The genres in children’s novels are about as diverse as those in adult fiction. Today, let’s look at mysteries for middle grade readers. Mysteries have their own set of rules that make the genre distinct. 

Know your audience. This age group is beginning to find their place in the world outside family. Peer and peer pressure is ever present. Many books for these readers have no parents in the narrative or parents are an insignificant part of the plot and characterization. Give the main character a best friend or someone who can help figure out ideas and clues. Add some people who do not want the character to figure out the mystery. 

Begin with action or suspense and introduce the mystery early. Plot is king with mysteries. The plot is the most important ingredient because the reader is involved and views the story as a game or puzzle to solve.  

Know the story ending BEFORE you begin writing. You need to know the answer to the mystery so you can add the real and false clues. 

Introduce the character who is solving the mystery and the villain who is trying to keep the character from solving the mystery early in the book. Other possible suspects can be introduced early as well. 

Next week, we’ll look at more rules for writing mysteries. 

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
American Girl. Accepting nonfiction articles from readers





And more. 

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

The Fountain 100th Issue Essay Contest. The Fountain invites you to join us in celebrating our 100th issue. Write an essay to yourself on your 100th birthday. What would you say to yourself at that age? What would your 100-year-old self tell you back? Would it be a conversation of praise and/or regret? Perhaps praise for the achievements in your career, but regrets about a lost family? Or warnings about the mistakes you made in your projected future or in your past; pitfalls you happened to be dragged into, temptations you could not resist; or celebrations for the good character you were able to display and sustain over a life; a precious life wasted or a life lived as it was meant to be.

Essay word count must be between 1,500 and 2,500 words

Cash prizes:
1st Place – $1,500
2nd Place – $750
3rd Place – $300
Two Honorable Mentions – $200 each

DEADLINE: November 30th.


  1. I really would like to write a mystery for kids, so this is pretty interesting to me. Thanks for the post.

  2. Kids love mysteries and editors love mysteries so that's a win-win. That genre is popular at all times, especially if you embed humor throughout. Not continuously, but bits and pieces. Give it a try and have fun with it.