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Activity Overview

Most genres of literature typically follow a pattern. Whether looking at romance, drama, or detective fiction, each category will have elements in common. Looking at most detective fiction, for example, will prove this; the reader will see that there are certain universal elements throughout the genre.

A great lesson plan, after reading the story, is for students to complete a scavenger hunt using the storyboard creator. Give them a list of common archetypes in detective fiction and have them create a storyboard that depicts and explains the use of each literary element in the story! They will have an absolute blast and master the genre by the end. Check out this example below:

Elements of Detective Fiction

  • A seemingly perfect crime to be solved
  • A complex plot filled with suspects towards whom circumstantial evidence points
  • Bungling or dim-witted police
  • Great powers of perception & observation by the detective
  • A startling and unexpected resolution in which the detective reveals how he/she has realized the identity of the perpetrator

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective:Create a storyboard that depicts and explains the use of each literary element in the story.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click “Start Assignment” and give your storyboard a name.
  2. In the center title box, write, "Elements of Detective Fiction".
  3. Write the elements in the title boxes.
  4. Give examples for each element.
  5. Create illustrations for each using appropriate scenes, characters, items, and text.
  6. Save and exit when you are done.

Lesson Plan Reference

How To Facilitate a Discussion on the Elements of Detective Fiction


Explain Basic Concept

Explain the basic concept of detective fiction and the elements of detective fiction to begin. Tell the students how it is a genre in writing and ask them if they are familiar with some famous fictional stories such as Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes. Assess their knowledge by asking if they ever found some common elements in different detective fiction.


Discuss Common Elements

Help the students identify some common elements present in all detective fiction such as perfect crime and unexpected ending. Discuss how these elements make up perfect fiction including mystery, crime and intelligence. Students can come up with more creative common elements and use their imagination.


Participate in Group Analysis or Reading

Have the class read a short piece of detective fiction together. Encourage them to point out and talk about the text's aspects. Students can form a circle and share their thoughts on the text, what they found interesting and if there are any alternate resolutions they will suggest.


Write a Detective Fiction

After students are clear on the elements that make up detective fiction, ask them to write a story including all these elements. This activity will help the students in the application of their concepts and foster their creativity.


Think Back and Summarize

Ask the students to consider what they have learned about the components of detective fiction before closing the discussion. Summarize the main ideas and exhort the students to think about how these components affect the genre's overall attractiveness.

Frequently Asked Questions About Elements of Detective Fiction in "The Purloined Letter"

Who plays the role of the intelligent detective in the story?

The detective from "The Purloined Letter" is C. Auguste Dupin. He is a made-up persona that Edgar Allan Poe constructed. He is renowned for his analytical thinking and strong observational abilities. An intelligent detective who leads the investigation and helps to solve the mystery is an integral part of any detective fiction.

What strategy does Dupin use to unravel the mystery in "The Purloined Letter"?

To unravel the riddle, Dupin uses deductive reasoning, meticulous observation, and psychological understanding. He places a strong emphasis on thinking creatively and taking other viewpoints into account.

What is the perfect crime or the mystery at the heart of "The Purloined Letter"?

The theft of a damaging letter is the main unsolved mystery in "The Purloined Letter." The information in the letter may harm the receiver if it were made public. This element plays an important role in the development of the narrative and the genre.

This Activity is Part of Many Teacher Guides

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