Murder’s an Art

Good day, my lovelies.

Last night while performing in a murder mystery as one of the suspects, I had an interesting discussion with one of the older members of the cast about characterisation. The show itself partakes in three acts; the show itself, the questioning and then the finale. The murderer is different every night, and revealed just before the questioning to avoid someone spoiling it. At first I had a long think about this: is this a good idea? How could the seven people playing the suspects accommodate accordingly in order to help the audience work it out early? That’s when I realised that it was unnecessary: the questioning was all that was required.

Naturally I’m not going to go into plot details or anything like that as there’s currently two nights to go. However, it raises an interesting point about how much of your character’s actions you need to know in regards to how much of their actual character you’re aware of. Why am I speaking about acting and not writing? A writer has to know their character in even more depth. Last night my character was chosen to be the murderer, and straight away the writerly part of my brain went back through the play and connected the dots. Sending another character up to the loft? Normally it’d be to tell him to find something, but if he was the murderer then it would be for another purpose. An earlier argument seems more spiteful in that case. In a way, it’s a good thing for some actors not to know this information beforehand, in case they get carried away and accidentally make it too obvious that they were the culprit. If this happens in the first half of the Story, then everyone’s going to get bored pretty quickly. Murder mysteries are usually plotted backwards, in order to better weave clues into the story.

Connecting the dots and working backwards, changing events, retconning if you will, is something that writers do to their own work all the time. Don’t be afraid to change past facts to make the story flow better. You have all the time in the world (well, until publishing) to chop and change things without judgement. Just make sure nothing needs changing when you actually get it published!


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