Monday, February 15, 2010

Getting Down to Business

I have a deadline approaching fast, so I'm having to tear myself away from watching the Olympics (GO CANADA GO), knuckle down and get to work. Luckily, I know how this mystery game will go. I've already:

  • Named all my characters and know each of their motives. (all 13 of them!)
  • Researched my setting and the time period.
  • Decided what pieces of 'evidence' need to be created to add an extra element to the game.
  • Know who's lying and who isn't.
  • Know who's the guilty party.
  • Know where to add a bit of humour. (I find it impossible not to).

As organized as this sounds, there is some wiggle room. Once I start actually writing the clues for the game, it becomes like writing a novel - strange things start to occur and characters infer things I haven't thought of. Bonus for me, and it adds interest to the game.

I know many of you don't prepare this much when you write. You have my boundless admiration. But for me, it's like colouring. I need that outline before I can feel free to pick my colours and go a little wild. Staying in the lines makes the picture clear. I'm not writing an abstract, I'm writing a mystery.

It might be funny, it might be odd, but it has to make sense.


  1. I'm one of your blog friends that understands EXACTLY what you're talking about. Only dif is that I know who is in my cast and can write for them and I write with at least one partner if not both. We start together with the idea (a reading of a will involves three sisters who are ...well...flakey) and then name the characters and figure out what their motives might be and then we're off. I love it....

  2. Elspeth - I'm so glad you brought up that point about planning. I'm totally with you about wanting that structure. I always plan before I write. I know who the victim and murderer are, and the motive. I also develop some of the main characters. Then, after that's been planned, I get down to drafting. That said, though, I often add more minor characters or events as the story goes on. I may not know, for instance, that I'm going to need, say, a store clerk as a character until a plot point comes up that has someone going to a store. The main plot though? That, I plan.

  3. Jan; I've wrote a murder night years ago about a reading of a will with a somewhat, shall we say kindly, eccentric family! It's got to be a classic scenario. And it IS fun...

    Margot; You've understood my point exactly; I may not plan down to the nth detail, but the main structure? Yes, yes, yes. I may change my mind as to the guilty party's identity when I'm planning, but I've got to know before I start the writing proper. It's the only way I can drop clues and red herrings knowing which is which!

  4. GO CANADA GO! I don't watch television and I'm wishing I had cable now!

    I hope I can learn to be the organized planner outliner that you are. Even half as, would make me happy :) Good luck wrapping up the game!

  5. I wouldn’t know where to begin when it comes to writing a game. It’s interesting to see the strategy behind it.

  6. I plan, but almost always deviate. The Olympics are distracting, aren't they?

  7. Good luck with the fun part of your writing! I've actually found I'm the same way - if I let my character's take over, well, they are like me, they tend to ramble but don't get anywhere. I have to have an outline to keep myself straight!

    Best of luck!

  8. Deb; Thanks for your good wishes. I've found a little planning before saves heaps of time later.

    Jane; It's actually not that different than writing a book; just a lot quicker!

    Elizabeth; The Olympics are so distracting! But exciting and marvelous.

    Kristi; That's why I need an outline too.

  9. I think if I were writing a game I'd prepare more. But maybe not - LOL.

  10. Karen; See if you can find the Opening Ceremonies anywhere. It will do your heart good.

    Carol; Honestly, I used to do more preparation, but I've written so many games now I know how it goes.

  11. The fact that you write mystery novels AND create mystery board games is astounding to me. What a talent!

  12. KarenG; Thank you, but they're not mystery board games; they're games people play at house parties - everyone gets to play a character and get clues to solve the mystery.

  13. I'm intrigued at the game just from your outline. Sounds like it will be great fun.

  14. Working on a deadline when the Olympics are in your city has got to be next to impossible!! Good luck!

    Go, Canada, GO! :)

  15. Mason; What a nice thing to say; thank you so much.

    Jemi; You know what? It BLOWS. But yes, yes, GO CANADA GO!

  16. I've participated in a couple of murder mystery games, one at home and one in a restaurant in an old castle in the South of France (sponsored by the local English-speaking radio station). The castle setting was incredible fun, but the at-home version was a real hoot because there were no strangers in the group (and therefore no need to be on our best behavior). This sounds like a great gig!

  17. Elspeth, ooops, I feel dumb! But still, you must be brilliant to come up with that! Have you ever seen the Bill Murray movie, The Man Who Knew too Little? You've got to love that one!

  18. I need outlines!! I need structure. I wish I were the other way though.

    You are a genius, Elspeth. That's all I will say for now.

  19. I think it's fascinating to learn how you write games.

    Straight From Hel

  20. Patricia; That DOES seem to be the attraction; everyone knows each other, but get to dress up and say awful things. I'm not sure I can forgive you for being in a castle in the south of France.

    KarenG; I do not know this movie; I'll check it out. No need to feel dumb, no need at all. Good grief.

    JW; Aren't you kind? How I wish I were!

    Helen; What a nice thing to say; thank you.

  21. I'm with you- I definitely need the outline. Otherwise I'd be totally lost!


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