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Mystery Words

Mystery Words

Your challenge is to write a story that includes mystery words from each of seven categories

This is a two-part challenge.

You will have 6 minutes in Part I. You will be warned when 2 minutes, 1 minute, and 30 seconds remain.

You will have 3 minutes in Part II. You are allowed to ask the judges questions; however, time will continue.

In part 1 you will be given a list of seven categories.

In Part II you will be given seven mystery words, one that matches each category.

In Part I, your challenge is to write a story that includes a blank space or spaces for each of these seven categories.

For example you might write "One fine day a [person] climbed up to [place] to get a permit..."

In Part II you will substitute the categories with the mystery words.

Your story can include the categories more than seven times, as long as you use each category at least once. You are also allowed to insert the categories into the story in any order that you wish.

When Part II begins, you will be shown the mystery words that match up with the categories.

You will then have 3 minutes to read your completed story out loud, substituting the mystery words for the categories.

You may add  an"a" or a "the" before each mystery word to make the story sound right

Each team member must read part of the story. You will be finished when response time ends or you complete your story.


Provide pencils and paper for use by the team.

Print out and place the list of categories in full view of the team members in Part I.

List of Categories:

Person, Place, Thing, Action, Body Part, Emotion, Food

When Part II begins, replace the list of categories with the list of mystery words.

List of Mystery Words:

Witch (person), Basement (place), Cell phone (thing), Driving (action), Nose (body part), Suspicious (emotion), Waffle (food)

If necessary, remind the team that each team member must read at least one part of the story.

If all team members do not read part of the story, score low for how well the team works together.


You will be scored as follows:

1 point for each time that you use one of the mystery words.

10 bonus points if you use each mystery word at least one time.

20-35 points for the creativity of your story.

1-10 points for how well you work together.

When scoring how well the team works together, consider the extent that all team members are involved in developing the story: Did they delegate duties? plan out who reads and/or writes what? share ideas? Did the team members value one another’s input?

When scoring for the creativity of the story, consider how creative the story would have been if the team could have used a word of its choice in the story. The mystery words are included in the problem for humor; the creative aspect is how the team writes the story.

Examples of Common Stories:
Stories that do not make sense, even before the mystery words are added.
Stories that do not allow incorporation of all seven of the words at least once.
Stories that simply repeat words in order to get score without making sense in the story.
Stories that are literal without much embellishment.
Stories that are plausible, but not very imaginative.
Stories that are predictable.

Examples of Creative Stories:
Original or humorous stories.
Stories with an unexpected twist.
Incorporating the categories in an interesting way.
Stories that are written to make sense regardless of what words are used for the categories.

Stories whose plot changes several times but still have a common thread.
Stories that rhyme or use plays on words.
Spoofs of, or original versions of, existing stories.
Stories that are turned into an original song, e.g., a ballad or opera.

Tips for teams:


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