‘How do you set about plotting a murder mystery?’ This is a question many crime writers have been asked, I’m sure. Not all of them will have tried this particular method…
The Fox is a delightful thatched stone pub in the North Bedfordshire village of Carlton. On Saturday evening (6th April) the talk in The Fox was of murder. It wasn’t entirely my fault, the landlady, also called Alison, has to take the blame in part. In a rash moment, fuelled by a dose or two of alcohol, I agreed to facilitate an evening of murder, plot and mayhem. ‘By way of a change…’
Thus the plotting experiment was born. Here was the question: Could a group of people in a Bedfordshire pub manage to devise a murder mystery worthy of a place in a book, or indeed a script for TV? Would the evening be entertaining enough to justify the ticket price? With cheese and wine included we – the landlady and I – found out by throwing ourselves into a ‘PLOT A MURDER EVENING’.
I don’t want to disclose too many of my secrets, but the plan was a simple one, the execution, however, was far more complex and required forethought. ‘It’ll be like herding cats,’ I was told. Still, given my background in mental health nursing I wasn’t fazed, although I knew that this slightly potty way of plotting would only work if the three groups of people, who bought tickets in good faith, could work together. I set the briefest of murder scenes, which involved a lady by the name of ‘Amy Cruikshank’ a youngish widow found dead in her kitchen … and then the Random Death Generator (top secret) was employed.
‘Electrocution!’. The means of murder was decided, but how exactly did she die? Why? Who killed her?
The inventiveness of the participants was a joy to behold. Sometimes completely whacky, sometimes unworkable, and then whoosh a brilliant aside would create a cacophony of excited chatter and much re-thinking of ideas. Two hours and a great deal of brain ache later and, by crikey, we had a workable plot.
Writers, if you ever get stuck for ideas, give this a try. Every single person enjoyed themselves, involved themselves and shared a lot of laughter. Great fun and I was happily exhausted by the end of it all. Do it again? Yes.
A big ‘thank you’ to Alison at the Fox, Carlton and to all the lovely people who came along. Alison – AB Morgan.
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