Writing Mysteries in Language & ESL Lessons

Writing mystery stories can be an exciting and interesting activity. Getting students exuberant about doing this involves finding prompts that help them develop ideas. They need to think of story lines that pique the interest of their readers. Teachers need to find methods to enhance this creativity within the students.

How to Write a Mystery Story in Class

Teachers can offer the following methods to help students begin to write. They can aid the students by creating imaginative titles for mystery stories, create story beginning cues that will help writers get started, or make up endings for their stories.

Mystery Story Titles are a Good Beginning

The easiest way for the teacher to begin is to give titles. A quick trigger for the writers is to be given a logical start that comes with a name of a story. Here is a list of example titles:

  • The Case of the Fisherman’s Net
  • The Head of the Elephant
  • The Antique Gun
  • The Tomb of the Lion
  • The Mystery of the Missing Key
  • The Case of the Broken Wall Panel
  • Shattered Glass
  • The Knee Bone

Story Starters for Tales of Mystery

Another method of helping students write, is giving them a sentence or even a first paragraph to spur their imagination and create suspense. Here are some examples:

  • It wasn’t in the box, and the stranger was stunned by its emptiness. How was it possible that in a few short hours someone had managed to take it out?
  • The lights went out. Darkness descended. Nobody walked in the streets.
  • The shadow slipped between the parked cars. It moved faster and faster until it reached the door, and then it stopped.
  • The water was icy. She felt herself going down, down, into its depths.

Ending a Mystery Story

Teachers can also write some endings for a mystery story. Students have to create the story that would end with that paragraph or sentence. Below are some ideas for this kind of prompt.



  • And he never came back again. Never.
  • She smiled, but the shadow of her large hat covered her tears as they ran down her face.
  • Behind the wall, the body still lay…and only the dogs of the neighborhood knew it was there.
  • Detective James frowned. His cell-phone rang. “Yes dear,” he said, “I’ll be home at five.”

Reading the Mystery Tales

Listening to all the stories will bring pleasure and enjoyment to the class. Have students read their tales to the class. A nice idea is to have students record their stories, with sound effects, onto CDs or tapes. Students find it fun to hear themselves and others on a listening device. The culmination of the writing, through the reading, is very rewarding for both teachers and students.

Writing practice through creativity, such as mystery writing, encourages students to include imagery, interesting adjectives, and a strong story line in their compositions. These idea prompts will enable students to begin the writing process and ultimately produce an exciting story.