1. AmbassadorAbbaZabba
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    AmbassadorAbbaZabba New Member

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    Mystery Theater Help!!!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AmbassadorAbbaZabba, Sep 20, 2011.

    I want to write a play for my school's theater group to perform. I want it to be a mystery, something that will make the audience wonder and have them at the edge of their seats with suspense. I have a idea for the type of play I what to do and how I will portray the information but Iet's just say the information portrayed needs to be a bit more...'refined.'

    My idea is this: Vladmir throws a dinner party inviting about 7-8 people. Right now I only have functions for about 5 people(4 guest and his wife) but the other 2-3 I havent 'invented' a purpose other than being shady and attracting suspicion. The people that have a purpose invited are his daughter and son-in-law Gertrude and Charlie, his closest friend, Edgar, Edgar's daughter, Kim, and the main character of the story and Kim's best friend, Oswald. Right now I feel like a dinner party would be weird because Oswald doesn't really belong. There isn't alot of settings where it would be appropriate for an old man like Vladmir to invite two 16 year olds(plus numerous middle age people) to his house but I digress.
    Close to the very beginning I would introduce the murder. After a toast Vladmir takes a sip of his wine. Shortly afterwards he grasps his throat as if he was being choked, and keels over dead. At this moment the general understanding from the adults is that Vladmir died of old age. Oswald thinks it's pretty odd that a man, no matter how old, dies without any warning.
    Here lets break away from the story mode. Here is where Oswald starts investigating in this old man's house. Vladmir's wife in distress calls an ambulance. In the living room(the set) here is where the adults agree that Vladmir dies of age. When Svetlana returns she ushers everyone off into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Oswald and Kim stay behind. From here is Oswald and Kim find clues and formulate hypotheses to suit their evidence. At first Kim doesn't believe it was murder but slowly Oswald convinces her. Throughout the play Kim plays the role of information clarification. Whenever a piece of info or a clue is hard to understand she asks Oswald who tells her whats up. I think this role is crucial because she provides a way to keep the audience on track of what's going on.
    Now the murder and motive. The murderer is Charlie. Why? Because he's got a crappy job and can't provide for his daughter and wife. A few months prior Vladmir wrote his will giving a hefty amount of money to Gertrude in the event of his death( a point that will be discovered halfway through the play placing Gertrude as the main suspect). Money that would be spent on bettering their lives. How did he do it? Vladmir is deathly allergic to peanuts. Since Charlie is the son-in-law it wouldn't look weird if he and Gertrude came by a little earlier than when the party started to help set up. Not knowing which glass would be Vladmir's, he dusted every glass that was to be served with peanut residue. When Vladmir drank his peanut residue with the wine, his esophagus closed up, hence him acting like he was choked.


    Now here's where I need the help of fellow writers. First tell me anything you think this play needs or doesn't need( aside than to be finished). I'd also like to hear any ideas for more guest and false leads. Thanks:)

    P.S. Did you see that coming? Peanut residue in the wine?
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I think the two sketchy people should tie in somehow, even if they aren't invited to the party. I understand that you want red herrings and the extra elements of mystery, which are both good, but they should have a purpose of some kind, even if we don't find out til later.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    have you seen the classic agatha christie spoof, 'murder by death'?... this is pretty close to a rip-off, if that matters to you...
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A story concept means nothing. I can tell you now, it has all been done before. What matters is how you write it, the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's no benefit in asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    Please read What is Plot Creation and Development?

    What your story needs is for you to start writing it. As you develop it, proofread, and edit, you'll find the flaws and missing pieces far mor clearly than anyone will looking at a synopsis.

    It's your story. Use your imagination, and trust yourself.
     
  5. AmbassadorAbbaZabba
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    AmbassadorAbbaZabba New Member

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    Never heard of it but I know Agatha Christie is pretty famous. What's the likeness?
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    It doesn't matter if we saw it coming, because we only saw the summary. Murder by peanut allergy has been done. Dinner party murders have been done. What matters is how you write it. I recently finished C J Sansom's Dissolution. I loved the story and the writing style, but it was blindingly obvious whodunnit because Sansom was too obvious in steering us away from them. It's a tricky balancing act. The plot you have described looks like a tricky one to make fresh -- it's so Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh. That's not to say it can't be done, but you need to know the "golden age" stuff really well to avoid (or subvert) the cliches.
     
  7. tristan.n
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    tristan.n Active Member

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    Like everyone else has said, it does sound much like Agatha Christie. The very first part reminded me of And Then There Were None. I like the concept of it, but wouldn't the police be there, too? I'm not challenging the legitimacy of it, I'm actually curious. I thought if someone actually died, the police had to come to make up a report, but I could very well be wrong. Anyway, do the other sketchy characters have something they're trying to hide? In the book I mentioned, all of the characters had committed crimes but were legally protected by law and got away with their crimes, so that made them all suspects. I'm not saying you should copy that, but if you don't already have possible motives for at least a few other ones, I'd make some up. People act pretty strange when something major happens like the death of a friend or family member, so it's hard to say who's being sketchy and who's just in shock still. Just some things to keep in mind while you're writing! :)
     

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