Shmooshalizing the Perfect Mystery Story

Prep 7-13
Posted on: June 9th 2017


On Thursday 8th June it was the turn of the younger pupils in the Prep School to be inspired by a visiting author. Helen Moss, author of the Adventure Island and Secrets of the Tombs series, was the perfect person to give the pupils tips on how to write the perfect mystery story.

Form 1 Writing Workshop

Helen Moss Author with Form 1 Pupils Form 1 Pupils with Author Helen Moss

After reading a short extract from her book, The Mystery of the Midnight Ghost, Helen discussed with Form 1 pupils what goes into writing an exciting adventure story. Pupils then had to concentrate on creating a setting for their own mystery, and, using the senses of sight, sound and smell, focus and zoom in to create their first piece of “dangerous writing.”

Story Structure with Upper Shell

US Pupils Answering Questions Helen Moss Workshop Author Helen Moss Chatting with US Pupil 

With Upper Shell pupils, Helen took the idea of story structure, focussing this time on what to do when your story starts well but then runs out of steam. In a fun-filled, interactive session, the pupils brainstormed ideas on characters, setting, goal, problems and resolution, and then mixed them together in a Shmooshalizer, otherwise known as a salad spinner! The resulting story was credible, imaginative, funny - and bound by a great structure.

Book Club Solve Mystery

Book club at lunch time was packed with Shell pupils and some of their parents, keen to share their views on The Mystery of the Whistling Caves. Described  approvingly by one parent as “a modern day Enid Blyton, with a very feisty girl heroine,” it again got the thumbs up all round. The pupils particularly enjoyed following the clues, despite a few red herrings being sent their way, to solve the mystery, along with the protagonists Emily, Jack and Scott.

Lower Shell Creative Writing

LS in Author Helen Moss Workshop LS Girl in Helen Moss Workshop

LS Boy Answering Question Helen Moss LS with Helen Moss in Story Writing Workshop

The Mystery of the Whistling Caves was also the topic for the workshop with Lower Shell pupils, fitting in perfectly with their recent History studies on the Saxons. Their eagerness to share their own ideas and knowledge, combined with Helen’s tips on writing and on where ideas can originate from, made this another fantastic session, rounding off a wonderful day. One final tip from Helen was that creative writing becomes easier the more you read. So with 17 books to her name, Helen certainly can provide a great starting point!

Mrs Pike, Prep School Librarian




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