The Sleuth Stories workshop is really a great collaboration — it was designed and led by U of M’s Zell Writers’ Program intern Lauren Morrow and YpsiWrites Program Coordinator Jessica Dailey, who is working with us through EMU’s Women’s & Gender Studies Practicum Program. The workshop is part of the YpsiWrites initiative. Students solved a strange mystery involving a missing portal key in the library and then interviewed suspects like youth librarian Jodi Krahnke to solve the crime! Then students then wrote their own mystery stories!
The Sleuth Stories workshop was lots of fun for both our student writers and volunteers! On a Saturday at the Ypsilanti District Library, there are lots of young people around enjoying the services that the library provides for them. When they saw a group of us with lab coats on, they were clearly curious! As young writers approached the workshop, we had to ask them one crucial question: are you a detective? To our delight, they all readily answered with a firm “yes”. Our workshop intern Lauren got these young writers thinking when she implored them to help us with an unsolved mystery: who stole the key for the inter-dimensional portal in the library’s basement? These writers already knew a lot about solving mysteries, so we knew that key would be found in no time.
Luckily, we happened to have our three suspects on hand. Writers (detectives…literary sleuths?) had the opportunity to interrogate the suspects, gleaning crucial information and creating a timeline for the crime. After hearing their keen observations, we had a big reveal and solved the mystery! Now that we were all in the mystery solving mode, students were encouraged to begin writing their own original mystery story. There were a few writing stations that these young detectives could choose from, including The Crime (developing the “5 W’s” of their story), The Suspects (mapping out their characters) and The Solution (entering the stage of drafting their mystery). We knew that these writers had really put on their detective hats when they couldn’t stop asking questions about the location of the inter-dimensional portal. We told them that unfortunately none of us had the clearance necessary to know that information…or do we? We’ll never tell!