On Saturday 6th October #BedfordLibraries boldly kick-started #LibrariesWeek with a creative workshop entitled ‘How to Plot a Murder’. Now, considering that the theme of this year’s Libraries Week is “wellbeing” this seemed a little contradictory, unless you were there at the time. If you were, you would have spent most of the morning with a smile on your face.
The aim of the workshop was to have creative fun exploring the basics of planning out a cosy mystery, a whodunnit. We weren’t sure quite how many people would take the time to buy a £1 ticket (to cover the cost of refreshments), let alone who would turn up on the day, but the response was overwhelming. An additional few tickets were made available at the last minute to account for the demand. Extra chairs were found and late arrivals were squeezed in at the back.
With support from librarian Ben Woodfine, as well as editor, author, competition judge and all-round dynamo creative writing tutor Morgen Bailey, we entertained the packed room with an ambitious programme and enticed attendees to explore the hidden depths of their imagination to come up with inventive ways of committing the ultimate crime. We challenged them to consider motive and opportunity, setting, a cast of possible suspects and the need for research. Before doing that, however, we set the tone of the morning by giving out a recipe to work to, as follows:
Recipe for The Cosy Murder Mystery
Place 2lbs of ‘death-in-mysterious-circumstances’ and one tiny pinch of gory into a well-defined setting.
Add 6 – 8 possible suspects.
Check time of death.
Fold in a detective with experience and half a pint of detective sergeant. (If unavailable, can be substituted by a sleuth with high IQ)
Place under spotlight for several chapters exploring possible means, motive and opportunity.
Melt together, several splashes of humorous banter, community reaction and revelations about suspects.
Season with a sprinkling of red herring – to taste. (Note: can cause intolerance if overused).
Pour this into the other ingredients and mix well.
(Note: Never add profanity, sex or extreme violence.)
When baked, the story should be realistic and all loose ends tied up.
If the mystery has not been satisfactorily solved, start again/tweak/revise/ or seek advice from an editor.
Judging by the round of applause, the thanks we received, and the comments, it seems we achieved what we set out to:
“Thank you ladies – Morgen and Morgan- great team. It was an informative and fun workshop. I met some lovely writers and also got inspiration for a character to kill off!”
“Really interesting morning , loved it . Thank you both.”
“Amazing content. Great atmosphere and opportunity to participate in discussions. Good hand-outs. £1? Would have paid £5.”
“More please, more, more, more. Been looking for a group for ages, would love some regular crime writing workshops and a writing group.”
What did Morgen and I learn?
One: There are keen readers and writers out there who are desperate to absorb as much as possible about the art of writing.
Two: Some people may look sweet and innocent but they have twisted minds.
- Three: Humour is a great tool for teaching.
- Four: Being an author is as much about giving back as it is about selling books.
A big thank you to Ben for organising,
and especially to Morgen for giving her free time to join me: