Murder Mystery Short Story Editing Task Cards

For the past few weeks my students have been immersed in a reading and creative writing unit centering around murder mysteries. As my students are busy writing their creative fiction pieces, I have designed the following task cards to help them add creative elements to their stories to enhance suspense and the elements of mystery.

Murder Mystery Short Story Editing Task Cards

The four tasks or stations include:

Word Wizard – Read through your murder mystery creative fiction specifically for vocabulary. Pay attention to your word choice. If you find that your vocabulary needs a boost or you are using the same words to describe the events, setting, and characters, let’s give it a boost. Open up and look to replace the overused words with stronger and more vibrant vocabulary.

IllustratorCreative writing requires vivid imagery that creates a picture or movie the reader’s mind. Read through your story looking for the strong imagery presented throughout the piece. Select one scene and draw a detailed picture that conveys the events described. This colorful picture will be included with your short story as the title page to draw readers to your story.

Red Herrings – Red herrings play two important roles in a mystery novel. They heighten suspense and add greater challenge to a mystery puzzle by misleading the reader and/or the sleuth. A red herring is a false clue that a mystery writer uses to send readers and sleuths off in the wrong direction. Try one of these ideas:

Put an innocent character at the scene of the crime. Maybe he had come to drop something off for a friend who lives across the street from the victim’s house and had parked for a moment in the victim’s driveway. A suspicious neighbor saw him pull out of the driveway. She wrote down his car license number. Bang! He is a suspect.


Have the sleuth discover some items (red herrings) at the crime scene that can be interpreted in more than one way or that implicate an innocent person or are completely unrelated to the crime. The sleuth and the reader have to sort them all out.

Literary LuminaryRead through your murder mystery creative fiction. Highlight in pink the places in the story where you are using figurative language (metaphors, similes, personification, hyperbole) and literary devices (flashback, zoom in, zoom out, flashforward).  Think about what these devices add to your story for the reader. If you don’t use any of these craft moves, where are places that you can add a few of these devices to give your readers a more vivid picture of the setting, characters, and events in your short story.

Adding figurative language and literary devices into creative writing is challenging for some students so I created how-to directions to provide students with direct instruction regarding targeted skill development. Students follow the directions at their own pace, re-read as necessary, and refer to examples that have been included. Using this how-to direction sheet requires students to be active participants and help students become proficient at learning a skill (Innovative Designs for Education, 2019).

Check out this How to be more Literary Luminary designed with my students in mind:

How to be More . .  . Literary Luminary

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