How to write a children’s mystery chapter book

Writing children’s books

Writing children’s chapter books can be a challenge especially if you write other types of books because you have to change your vocabulary and sentence structure so that children can read chapter books easier than trying to pick up a book for older audiences.

For this guide, we will focus on writing a children’s mystery chapter book. You might even attempt to write a series of books for children.

Once you have your first mystery book written for children, you will find it easier to write the next book using the same characters.

The books that are shown in the picture on the left are examples of children’s books that you might want to read, so you can get a feel of the writing style of this level of books.


Step 1

Getting started

Before you can start writing your mystery book, it would help to read some children’s mystery books on the level that you would like to write. For example, if you want to write books on the level of the Boxcar Children series, you might read some of them. A book review is featured on the right. Reading those books or the others mentioned in the other articles would help you to write your own books.

Step 2

Planning your book — Characters

Your first step in planning your book is to decide on your idea. What kind of mystery for children do you want to write? Once you have your idea, you are ready to plan your book.

This step will be about characters.

You need to choose a protagonist, who is the main character in your mystery. The protagonist is the one who experiences some obstacles throughout the book in order to reach his or her goal.

You will also have minor characters who will support the main character, or they may oppose the main character and attempt to keep him or her from reaching his or her goal.

When you plan your characters, you need to outline their physical attributes and their personality. Readers want to visualize the protagonist and to relate to him or her. Your characters should be realistic.

Step 3

Planning your novel — settings

Now that you have your characters outlined, you need to think about your setting. Where do you want your novel to take place? Do you want it in the city, country, island, house, school building, or where?

After you decide where you want the setting, you need to describe the environment. If it’s in a building, you need to describe the inside of the building, and the outside. Readers want to visualize the setting, so they can feel like they are right there with the characters.

Every time you move your main character around, you need to describe what he or she sees. That helps readers to visualize each room. Here’s an example:

Megan and Christy walked out of their playhouse and through the gate to the woods. They hadn’t been there before, so they were eager to explore the area. As they walked through the woods, they heard the birds singing in the trees. They continued to walk farther into the woods until they spotted a deserted house.

You can see from this description that the girls were in their playhouse, and there was a wooded area near their house. They also noticed a deserted house.

By making your settings realistic, readers can experience what the characters are experiencing.

Step 4

Planning your novel — plot

After you have planned your characters and setting, you are ready to plan the plot of your novel. What is going to happen in your novel? What is the protagonist’s goal? What obstacles will the protagonist experience?

When you ready to develop your plot, you need to write an outline of each section: introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and ending. If you write a summary of each section, it will help you to write your novel. You also won’t miss anything that you wanted to include in your novel.

After you have written your outlines and summaries, you are ready to write your mystery novel. The important element to remember when you are writing a mystery novel for children, is to think about the age group who are writing for and use the language of that group.

When you have written your novel, you need to read it over and make sure you have corrected all of your mistakes. You also want to make sure that you have planted clues throughout the book and that everything has come together at the end. You want the readers to be satisfied with the book.

One way to check the reading level is through Microsoft Word and check the spelling. At the end, it should check the reading level of your manuscript. This will help to make sure you are writing on the level you want for the age group.

Things Needed
• Notebook paper, spiral notebook, or writing pad to write your plans
• Post-It notes to write down thoughts that come to you as you plan your book
• Pens
• Pencils
• White Outs
• Erasers
• Computer paper and printer to type up final draft

Tips & Warnings
• Write the elements of fiction in your spiral notebook
• Write a general plan or summary under each one
• Use the Post-It notes to write down thoughts that come to you
• Place the Post-It notes in each area of your notebook where you had a thought


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