Last Friday, kids came to Pasadena Central Library for a free writing workshop with middle grade author Kristen Kittscher, who writes the Young and Yang mysteries!

She shared some of the funny facts that inspired her book The Tiara on the Terrace, which is based on Pasadena’s own Rose Court traditions!

One of the reasons Kristen shared for deciding to write middle grade mysteries is that, as a 7th grade teacher, she was finding a serious lack of mysteries that keep you guessing. It was hard to find mysteries she could really recommend as something you could sink your teeth into and not something that would be easily solved. So Kristen wrote The Wig in the Window and the Tiara on the Terrace to have lots of suspects and plenty of plot twists!

But writing great plots didn’t always come easily to Kristen. (One of the things I love about having authors come to the library is when kids get a chance to hear this and put their own process in perspective!) Here, Kristen shares how her plots came out in her early stories:

Kristen taught the kids one of her techniques for creating plots that keep readers turning pages. When she creates the premise of a novel, she makes sure it can’t be described too easily in a sentence. It should be at least four sentences:


    What if…
    And then…


We did a group writing activity coming up with a crazy, exciting plot by starting out with something very simple and ordinary that happened to us and then asking “What if…?”

Kids did an individual version of this too, each coming up with their own interesting, twisted plots.

They shared their stories and then Kristen had some amazing goodies she gave away. Every kid who came to the workshop received a raffle ticket, and was therefore entered into a drawing for brand-new hardcover books, posters, writing notebooks, pens and all kinds of other Tiara on the Terrace spy swag! That was such a nice surprise. Everyone got a signed bookmark!

We had so much fun writing with Kristen. Her classes are always a treat. I hope to have her back in the future!

If you loved doing creative writing with a kidlit author, we have another great workshop planned for September 22 at 4:30 pm with Elana K. Arnold, author of Far from Fair and A Boy Called Bat. Call the Children’s Desk to sign up: 626-744-4066 option 4.