A Bit More About Motives
There are many different ways to categorize motives for murder. After ‘Be in Control’ I break the flowchart down to Power, Passion & Revenge. There are many subcategories after that, with the inevitable crossover between the three main one. I’ve produced charts to cover these for a book on mystery cluetrails that I am writing. The main purpose is to give writers some inspiration on what drives a person to kill. Here’s the chart for Power.
Plot Point #3 – The unusual suspects
Now that we know who dies, who are the suspects? If you are writing a story then there are more characters than suspects. If you are writing a story then you have more time and literary tools to make your characters interesting so they do not have to immediately stand out in the same way they do in a script.
Here’s the cast / characters for Midnight at the Oasis.
If you are writing an interactive entertainment script, then all the characters are suspects. The best mystery entertainment is always over the top! Colourful characters are just more fun and able to get away with extreme behavior. This helps your audience relax and enjoy themselves; it makes it easier for them to participate as well. Since no one is acting ‘normal’ it gives guests permission to act a little melodramatic as well.
- Deanna Berrington as Nadia of the Night
- Tony Berryman as Sheikh of Shazam
- James Lazarus as Sheihk of Shyster
- Judy Smith as Samira of the Sunset
The Arabian Mountain Spice Belly Dancers play the harem. Cam Berry as the Sultan of Haberdashery is not in this photo but you can get a glimpse him with Alice the drug sniffing camel in Plot Point #2 Who Dies?
Plot Point #4 – Motive
In mystery stories, many characters may have a motive. They may or may not remain as suspects throughout the whole book. They can be ruled out as it is revealed whether they also had the method and the opportunity to be the villain. You have as many words as you need to tell your story. It may or may not happen quickly. In murder mystery entertainment, there is a very short amount of time to get the relevant information out so you start off by making sure that every suspect has a motive. For every motive you need a piece of evidence. I write mystery entertainment so that some of the evidence is spoken dialogue, some of the evidence is hardcopy clues and much of the evidence is covered both ways, just to make sure no one in the audience misses anything.
If the clue is verbal only then it must be included in a ‘scripted’ scene. All scripted scenes must be on
microphone. There is nothing so detrimental to murder mystery entertainment as the audience not being able to hear what the characters are saying. Except a boring script. My scripts are never boring.
The actor who is giving out the ‘verbal only’ clue must also make sure it is relayed to every group of people as he ‘works the tables’. Mingling should take place between the scripted scenes as well as at the beginning of the evening.
Midnight cast motives:
Nadia of the Night – Betrayed by the Sultan
Sheikh of Shazam – Robbed by the Sultan
Sheihk of Shyster – Blackmailed by the Sultan
Samira of the Sunset – Cursed by the Sultan
Plot Point #5 – Method
Resisting the urge to be outrageous in your murder method is like colouring inside of the lines. It’s all very nice but almost anyone can do it. That said, beware of a bizarre method because it comes with its own set of pitfalls. Account for the extraordinary so that your villain doesn’t outsmart himself.