Write Your Own Caper!

It’s time to write The Great [Insert Your Town Here] Caper!

Now that you’ve started following along with Thomas, Li-Ming and Norm’s adventure to return Gillette Castle to Gillette Castle State Park, the Connecticut Center for the Book at Connecticut Humanities is inviting all Connecticut readers to create their own mystery story set in their hometown.

Thanks to Yelizaveta Renfro, Author of Chapter 1, there are some simple steps to follow and create a Caper writing contest at your school or library. Be sure to share your stories with us at or on social media using #CTCaper

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Make something disappear in your home town. You can pick any building, monument, statue, park, or other place in town.
  2. Create some detective characters and put them on the case. The rest is up to you! How will your sleuths solve the mystery? What will they discover?  
  3. Choose a panel of judges and create prizes for your winners. We have some suggestions for judging categories, but it can be adapted to fit your contest. Possible Judging Categories: K-1 Individual, 2-3 Individual, 4-5 Individual, 6-7 Individual, K-2 Collaborative, 3-5 Collaborative 6-7 Collaborative.
  4. Determine whether you will allow students to enter one or two stories—one in the individual category and one in the collaborative category.
  5. Determine a limit for Collaborative stories (our suggestion is four contributors who contribute text and/or artwork).
  6. Word limit suggestion: Individual stories should be no longer than 1,000 words, and collaborative stories should be no longer than 2,000 words.
  7. Choose a deadline and who will collect submissions.
  8. Determine how entries will be submitted (Hard copy or electronic? Is handwritten OK?)

Other suggestions: Students in lower grades may tell their stories mostly through pictures, but there needs to be some text for the entry to qualify as a story. Artwork is optional.

How to Judge: Select winning entries based on their grade-appropriate use of the six traits of writing: 1. Ideas (interesting, on topic, and detailed), 2. Organization (a clear beginning, middle, and end), 3. Word Choice (precise, varied, and descriptive vocabulary), 4. Voice (an individual, distinctive, consistent voice or tone), 5. Sentence Fluency (varied sentence lengths and constructions), and 6. Conventions (neatness, spelling, punctuation, capitalization).

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