A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix
Focus Trait: VOICE Support Trait: CONVENTIONS

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Just the Facts, Ma'am

bringing in Joe Friday to solve an original and silly mystery


Student Writer Instructions:

Your parents or grandparents probably used to watch Dragnet on television.  Dragnet was a popular police detective show that always started out with the line "This is the city." After its famous opening line, the show followed the investigations of Joe Friday, who was a serious-sounding detective.  Even though he was very serious, everyone loved Joe Friday...except the bad guys, of course.

In The Web Files, Duck-tective Web is a character who narrates and asks questions just like Joe Friday did on the old TV show.  Author Margie Palatini has a fun time making her own version of this type of detective.  Making fun of something recognizable through writing is called parody.

Today, you'll be creating your own parody of a detective character who acts like Joe Friday.   You will be writing a three-scene story.  Your story will be narrated by a detective who should sound similar to Duck-tective Web.  In each scene, your detective should interview a witness or someone suspected of a crime.  When a scene is done, you can borrow Palatini's use of Dragnet  music (Dum-da-dum-dum.... dummmmmmm) to let your reader know.

You can set your original mystery at your school ("This is the playground.") or at your house ("This is the bathroom.") or out in the middle of nowhere ("This is the meadow.").   If you don't know where to have your mystery happen, press the three buttons below for ideas for mystery scenes.

As you write, try really hard to capture your detective's voice with the perfect words.  And...if you're using dialogue, make sure you double- and triple-check its correctness before writing your final copy of your story.


Interactive Choices for Writing:

If you're struggling to start, click the buttons below for some ideas that might inspire you to launch your piece of writing.

Could this be your story's first sentence?

This is the .


(It's okay to come up with your own setting, if you don't like any of the ones provided here.)

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