YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel
YA ECO MYSTERIES
An ecological mystery is a scientific investigation and a mystery story combined into an exciting story. In an eco mystery the role of a murderer or villain is played by an unknown ecological problem. The characters are affected by the problem, and like good detectives they must carry out an investigation that will help solve it.
* Identify the problem (the mystery). What is the question that your mystery must solve?
Investigate the Problem:
—Observe: Visit the area that serves as the setting of the story—forests, lakes, streams. Make notes and observations on the animals, plants, sights and sounds, and on how they are related to the mystery.
—Experiment: If possible, carry out your own experiments to test the air, water, soil, plants, insects, and so on. As you make discoveries, you may begin to find your villain or ‘criminal’ for the eco-mystery.
—Note Changes: Perhaps there is a new landfill upriver from your site, a toxic spill, or a new housing development— this change is a possible ‘villain’.
* Explain and Draw Conclusions – Solving the Mystery: Review your problem and the results of your observations and experiments. Can you suggest a cause for the ecological problem? Once you know what’s going on, you are ready to tell your story. You will take the reader through everything you did, while developing the characters, place, time, scenery and a plot.
* Write the Story
—Create a main character who has a reason to care about your ecological problem. Perhaps it is a daughter of a zoo specialist or a forest ranger who spends time behind the scenes of the local zoo or in the forests.
—Develop a few supporting characters who can play key roles in your plot – perhaps the zoo veterinarian, or the manager of a wildlife refuge who would know something about each of the zoo inhabitants or the creatures in the refuge. As your character works through the mystery, these experts can be a source of information.
—Provide some background on the main character as the story goes along to draw the reader into ‘knowing’ your character.
—Include ‘red herrings’. Every good mystery has some distractions, which misdirect the main character’s investigation. This keeps the readers guessing until you are ready to tell all in the conclusion to your eco mystery.