It looks as if the murder mystery dinner theatre I’ve been working on is going to happen. That is good news, since I finally know who the murderer is. I was working on it today instead of writing a blog post. So instead of my usual Wuss-out Wednesday, I thought I would write a little about how I create these murder mysteries and call it a Mid-week Mental Meanderings.
I often start with the setting. Obviously the setting is the dinner the play takes place at, but why are we all there? Just a dinner party? A hoity-toity fundraiser for some some charity beloved by rich folk? Rich folk are often involved. For one reason, it gives us actors a chance to wear our most fabulous outfits. For another reason, it’s fun to make fun of rich people. I often have a few false starts, but that’s OK. No mental effort is ever wasted.
What finally got me started on this one was a glimmer of a character. I wanted to include a woman who was somebody’s aunt and preferred to be called by her full name: Awnt Theodora. That is not a misspelling; she pronounces it “awnt.” Naturally there must also be a character who insists on calling her Ant Teddy (again, that is not a misspelling). This is the sort of thing that goes over much better in a play than in a book. In the play, we’ll all just say “ant” or “awnt.” I won’t have to explain anything.
I decided Theodora and her niece must be hoity-toity rich people of the Old Money variety. The character who keep mispronouncing her name would be the niece’s fiance from the wrong side of the tracks, perhaps the son of a nouveau riche cattle rancher. The reason for the dinner could be their engagement party.
And so it began. Soon I had the number of characters I wanted and I began to add the details. Who dislikes whom and why? What secrets are people hiding? This part is a lot of fun. The rest of the process is pretty fun, too, only it’s not as easy. I have to make choices and figure things out. There is a lot of brain work, a lot of sitting and thinking, a lot of writing and crossing out, and quite a bit of blank-page staring.
I fear that to go through the whole process will be longer than, well longer than I feel like writing right now. However, I think what I have so far will be an OK post for today. I’ll write more about the Murder Mystery Process in future posts. And I have made a discovery: writing about writing is even more fun than writing about not writing.