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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.
Motive Power Flowchart

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.

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. What You DidFor 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

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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 OasisMidnight 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.

bizarre-methods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Comments

    1. Hello Mystery Lover!
      A mystery has two components; ‘what actually happened’ and ‘what appeared to have happened’. You tell the story of ‘what appeared to have happened’ and your detective or protagonist figures out ‘what actually happened’. This is often accomplished by telling the story out of chronological sequence. Know what actually happened before you start, break it down into pieces and then toss them out there for your sleuth to find and put back together.
      A mystery doesn’t have to be a murder, in fact it doesn’t even have to be a crime. A ‘whodunnit’ simply means that an unknown person performed an action – no matter if the action is a murder, a theft, or the baking of a cake. Basically you want to have your theft have the motive, the method and the opportunity (The Mystery Bones) to have committed the theft and then create the clues to prove that he had, indeed, each of those three things. You will also need to create clues to show that other people also had one or two of the Bones (motive, method or opportunity) otherwise there is nothing to solve. You can get a bit of help with the clues here.
      Put the crime, or a piece of intrigue leading up to the crime, at the beginning of the story. You want to grab the reader and have them asking questions right away. Keep the action going right up until the end. ‘Give hope. Take hope away. Give hope. Take hope away.’ Let your detective make wrong assumptions and then figure out what a clue really means at the last minute. If you enjoy writing your mystery then others will enjoy reading it.