We are very excited to be re-establishing our open murder mystery dates. Our events now tend to be for corporate groups but a few years ago we ran a dozen or so open events a year where members of the public and small groups could join us for a murder mystery dinner. Sadly our main hotel partner changed hands, the new owners changed their business emphasis and our public business stopped.
However, we now have two brand new hotel partners and our first dates can be confirmed. We will be running Nirvana Holidays, our timeshare plot, at a very appropriate venue. The Sheraton Skyline London Hotel has an indoor tropical pool and garden area within the hotel and this is where we will start the event and where the murder will take place. This will make it a truly unforgettable experience. The date for this event is Saturday 29th June 2013.
The second date is Saturday 9th November 2013 at the Lismoyne Hotel in Fleet. This is more of a country house experience and we will be running our traditional Reading Of The Will script. Notably the price of this is just £60 per person for dinner, bed, breakfast and the murder mystery. That is the most competitive price we have ever offered.
So, our public murder mystery events are off again and we are delighted!
Holborn Bars Library
There are many venues in London which would be suitable for a Murder Mystery evening but if you want somewhere with atmosphere the library at Holborn Bars is really special. It’s a traditional library with a gallery around the top and shelves packed with original dusty old tomes. Now, imagine it candlelit and set for a formal dinner. It really does have the feel of a Hammer movie set or something out of Harry Potter.
The venue provide a three course meal for £38.95 per person excluding drinks, so it’s pretty reasonable for London. Find out more about London Murder Mysteries.
‘An audience admires a character for trying more than for their successes’ says Emma Coates, a former Pixar Story Artist. That’s not to say that success cannot be admired but that it’s easier to relate to the effort. The hardest thing to admire is a character who has been successful in some way but who is smug about their achievements and draws attention to them.
In stories a well written character will take you on a journey, on some sort of quest. As this journey progresses you become drawn in and you buy into the character. Most people are, themselves, on a quest in life and they feel compassion and solidarity with someone who is sharing the same journey.
Very often the character of the villain will be the one who is basking in his or her own glory. This can be great fun to write and the writer has to keep the audience in mind and not create a hero character who they cannot relate to. At the other end of the scale a hero who is too passive or bendable will not appeal to the audience so a balance needs to be struck. Passive is not the same as likeable, in fact it’s the opposite in many situations. One way to avoid this is to give the character strong but plausible opinions. Readers look for consistency, so keep these opinions firm.
Feel the character yourself. What would you do in the situations that he or she is having to deal with. Honesty gives credibility to situations which may be unbelievable without it. Think about comfort. What is your character comfortable with? What would happen if you forced them to deal with the opposite situation?
These are some character development ideas. I have taken a lot of inspiration from Emma Coates and if you’re interested in this her Twitter @lawnrocket is well worth a follow.
The main character in a story must be interesting, intriguing and similar in some way to the audience. Some main characters are at first glance very unusual but the audience relates to them at a deeper level.
A good example of this is the character of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. She is an alternative character, a lesbian goth with a very high IQ, photographic memory and she is probably autistic. However, the audience can relate to her through her value system – a sense of right and wrong – and the unfair way in which she has been treated. She becomes a sort of antihero.
The challenge for the creator of the story is to design a character with enough that is interesting and engaging but without overdoing it so that the individual becomes a parody or pantomime character.
One way to invent a plausible personality is to study the personality tests that are popular in corporate team building. MBTI is interesting because it explains the differences between personality types so an author can scope out a personality without creating the sort of conflicts that make it difficult for the audience to engage with them. Is the character a natural introvert or extravert and how does that make them behave? Are they a thinker or a feeler and what does that mean when it comes to their reaction to events?
Often famous stories have a representative of each personality type in the cast and it is how these interact with each other that gives the story its quality. Joseph Campbell wrote about mythology and personality type and his work had a great influence on some of the most famous stories of modern times, for example the Star Wars series. His work is well worth visiting in to gain a deeper understanding of personality.
There are various psychological tools available that can help a writer to create a consistent and plausible character and understand how personality works will have a significant effect on the quality of the story.
When you’re writing your murder mystery each scene needs to have a structure. The elements to consider are; the name of the scene – are you setting the scene, is it the crime scene or perhaps a witness interview? You also need to consider the position in the overall structure, characters (which are present), costumes, setting, dialogue (words and tone), props, actions (core and more subtle actions and reactions) and the climax of the scene – what needs to happen.
Consider any plot links. Do you need to innocently introduce something that will be relevant later in the story? Murder mystery evening plots tend to be much more simple than the plot of a novel but the story still need to tie together. Don’t think, just because you’re performing to an audience who have probably had a bit to drink, that holes in your plot will not be spotted!
Find out more about Murder Mystery scripts here.
A typical murder mystery dinner format will involve a victim, a co-ordinator (usually a policeman or detective character) and around four suspects. The audience must try to establish method, motive and murderer. As the evening progresses participants will have the opportunity to question the suspects and they will find that each had a relationship with the victim that included a reason why they might want to see them gone.
During the first scene each of the suspects will have had an interaction with the victim which will have given them a method. Often the method is poison and the audience will have to establish whether the suspect had access to that poison and how they might have given it to the victim. Over the course of the dinner a case will build up. Usually all of the four suspects has method and motive and the participants have to guess who is the most likely murderer given the evidence in front of them.
There is one technique that can be employed very effectively. For the murder mystery format to work one rule must be observed; only the murderer is allowed to lie. One way of flushing this out is to ask each suspect outright ‘Why did you murder [victim]?’ If the suspect is innocent he or she might reply ‘I didn’t’ while the actual murderer will have to use cunning to avoid detection. You can actually use this as a process of elimination if you have an inexperienced team of actors.
More experienced teams will have this covered, with innocent suspects trained to answer with open responses, for example; What makes you think I killed him?’
So, when you attend a murder mystery dinner base your strategy around finding the liar. Further information can be found at the Murder Mystery website.