Creating the clues is one of the most interesting parts of putting together a Murder Mystery. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a master at creating clever clues for his Sherlock Holmes series of books. Holmes was renowned for his powers of observation and in A Case Of Identity he deduces that a lady is right handed by noting that the forefinger of the glove on her right hand is stained with ink from a pen. In the same story Holmes remarks that a typewriter is as unique as an individual’s handwriting because once it has been used some letters are more worn than others, and some wear more on one side than others. This makes their print unique. In fact type writer forensics has been used in real cases, for example the case of Levy -v- Rust in New Jersey as long ago as 1893 when a judge took into account the evidence of a typewriting expert.
In the sort of murder mysteries that are run over dinner most of the clues are paper based. Put together they form a sort of jigsaw which tells a story. There are tools online for creating receipts, bank statements and other documents. Fodey is particularly useful for generating realistic looking newspaper snippets. These can be used to create a background for the suspects, so they might indicate that someone is prone to violence or make a link between two suspects which adds to the case. It’s important, when creating the clues, to keep a note of how they interact and any dates and values which may need to be changed for future events.
One strategy is to create three clues for each suspect. The balance of the clues is very important, so make sure that the real murderer doesn’t have everything pointing at them. The removal of one clue in a well established script can completely change the way the audience perceives the story, just as the addition of a clue can tip the balance. It’s a fascinating area and, once you are really comfortable with a show, it can be interesting to add or remove clues and make small adjustments. However, avoid changing too much in one go. One change at a time will enable you to monitor the effect that it has on the show.