I submitted a proposal to the museum today for the murder mystery they’ve planned for the end of October.
The first mystery I created was based on a Clue game, so all the character’s names were colors. Various comments and suggestions from people gave me the idea of bird names. The victims could be a couple surnamed “Crow,” and the event could be called “A Murder of Crows.” Not everyone knows that a group of crows is not a flock but a murder, but that shouldn’t make any difference to the game.
Crows have nothing in particular to do with this area, though this part of Colorado is a good site for birding. (Except when it comes to me. Out of the 400 species that have been sighted, I’ve seen only a dozen or so.) Because of a lack any historical connection to crows, my proposal was just a first draft to get things going. Still, the museum director seemed to like the idea.
One of the characters could be a woman reporter, whose name could be Brenda Starling or more probably, Nellie Starling since Brenda Starr wasn’t created until the forties and Nellie Bly was active during the historical time of this event.
I’d also like one of the victims to be a ghost, roaming around looking for either her husband, their killer, or both.
And there’s a local medicine man who would make a good huckster.
My job is done for a while. The next steps need to come from other people, such as signing up people to play various characters and finding out noteworthy local events from that time. And I need help figuring out the visual clues, though I have a hunch that will be left to me.
I did have visual clues the first time, such as a photo of a man with a saloon girl he claimed never to have met, but since the museum is rather large for such a small town, I think clues like that got lost. This time, I figure we can put a silhouette of a crow by any clue, photographic or otherwise, to give people a hint.
I’d like to use fingerprints somehow. It’s possible I could just put a photo of a fingerprint by the crime scene and then simply tell people who it belonged to, though the person would deny committing the crime. Another possibility is to give all the characters a photo of a fingerprint they can hand out so people can check who the fingerprint belongs to, but the logistics of doing that seem a bit too complicated.
What makes this sort of game hard to create is that it has to be enigmatic yet logical, as do all mysteries. It also needs to be convoluted yet easy enough to solve so that even kids can play.
Until the museum folks gather some of the information I need, I don’t really have to do anything else to put it all together. Except think, of course. It always helps me to play out various scenarios in my head before I lay them out on a page.
A big thank you to everyone who gave me suggestions for this project. It certainly makes it easy for me to come up with a proposal when all I have to do is collate other people’s ideas!
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator