I’m Puzzled! Discovering Story Elements through Mysteries

Contributor: Victoria Surface. Lesson ID: 10062

Do you enjoy a good mystery? What makes a mystery story good besides all the creepy stuff? Good story elements make all stories good, so learn and practice how to identify story elements in mysteries!



learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Agatha Christie, Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, and Dean Koontz — What do these people have in common? They are all mystery writers, but they are not all the same. Every author creates the story differently, but they all use mystery elements, or literary devices, to tell their story. Study story elements through a mystery with lots of fun and interactive activities!

Choose a mystery novel to read as you work through these activities.

Some suggested titles are in the right-hand sidebar under Suggested Reading.

1. Some questions to think about as you work through story elements:

  • What are the story elements or literary devices in a mystery?
  • What do you think is the most important literary device of a mystery?
  • How is the mystery structured?
  • How does the author build suspense and excitement?
  • What clues does the author use in the book? Do clues lead you away from solving the mystery or help you solve the mystery?
  • How do all the literary devices or story elements work together to form the story?

2. There are many story elements or literary devices in a mystery:

  • Characters are the players in the story.
  • The protagonist, or main character, in a mystery is tasked with solving the problem.
  • The setting is often very important to the plot line.
  • In a mystery, the plot can take many twists and turns, with clues leading you in different directions.
  • Some writers even structure the plot by jumping back and forth in time.

It all adds to the suspense and excitement of the mystery.

Visit the links below* to read about the story elements of a mystery. Take notes in the Mystery Story Elements graphic organizer that you can download from Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

Include each mystery story element for this lesson:

  • character
  • setting
  • plot
  • clues
  • structure
  • suspense
  • solution

Also include the following for each story element:

  • definition
  • example from the mystery you are reading
  • an illustration of the story element or literary device

*Visit these links to read about the story elements of a mystery:

After you have absorbed the above information, continue on to the Got It? section to work on some projects to show that you got it!

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