So, this year the HBU honors college put on its first (hopefully annual) Murder Mystery Party. This was actually the second murder mystery party that I had ever been to. It was also the first that I was completely in charge of. Apparently being a last minute extra in one before qualifies me to run one. I say that like I didn’t volunteer. It was actually a really fun journey. I actually ended up writing the mystery used, and it was a really good opportunity for growth as a writer that I didn’t expect.
It all started, sometime before Christmas, when I tried to convince my roommates that this would be a great idea. Thankfully they agreed with me and threw themselves into the work needed to get the event approved.
After a few weeks we got the ok from our dean to go ahead with the idea and to choose the mystery that we would perform. This is where it started to get interesting. We had one picked out, but it wasn’t approved based on some of the content within the mystery. This made us sad because we had all had our hearts set on a 1920’s themed party (and when I say hearts what I really mean is wallets. And when I say we… I mean me… I had already bought a dress). The hard thing was, and if you’ve ever tried to do a mystery before you’ll know, it’s finding a clean mystery that’s also engaging and fun. We looked, and looked, and, giving up way too soon, decided that there was nothing that we wanted and that we should write our own (and when I say we… I mean me).
So, second semester starts and, in addition to taking 18 hours, and pledging for a sorority, I took upon myself to write a murder mystery party. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. It was a complete shot in the dark, but it was a lot of fun as well. I’ll spare you all the details surrounding the party’s conception and execution. Suffice to say that everything got written and designed (not without a lot of help from some friends), and that people actually volunteered to show up! The night finally came, and that was the fun/nerve wracking part. I was probably the only person that night who did not have much fun, and I say that with great pleasure. I have been assured by others that it was a blast, and it was fun to see my friends start to act like 1920’s mobsters and ditzy flappers. Here are some pictures from the night:
Here’s all the girls together in all our flapperish finery!
My roommate and I, looking very austere. She’s the one who designed the beautiful poster that we’re standing next to.
My other roommate and I posing. This would have been a great picture, except for the fact that I forgot that I had pinned my name tag to the back of my dress so it wouldn’t show for pictures… #epicfail
Here’s everyone together! We are a good looking bunch of people, If I do say so myself (and by we… I mean me).
Honestly, though, as much fun as this was, the best thing that I was able to take away from this is the boost that it gave my writing. It’s always scary to pour your heart and soul into something and then to give it to other people to be judged by them, and this was no different. The feedback I got was great though, and it also showed me some of my weaknesses in writing, and some technical mistakes I made in the execution of the mystery. It was difficult to write in ways that I didn’t expect. But writing this was so different from anything else I’ve ever written it actually ended up being a valuable tool in developing my personal style and technique.
I would recommend this exercise to any aspiring writer. It’s different from writing short stories or poetry, or even plays. It takes a lot of time but it gets you thinking about the technical aspect of writing, which is really important. You’re not just writing a story – you’re facilitating and event, you’re creating a world with enough structure to be coherent, and enough freedom to be fun and inspiring. As a writer it’s easy to make yourself the god of your own little world and to reconcile all the difficulties within it in your own mind. In doing something like this, however, there can’t be any inconsistencies, and your creation has to be able to stand (or fall) without you there to fix things up or clarify any confusion. It was a ton of fun to write, and I look forward to learning from my mistakes and doing more of these projects in the future.
Future MMP project: http://kemuri15.deviantart.com/art/Promo-Poster-290292611
Stock credit for Arsenic and Old Grudges poster goes to jinxmim and empty-paper-stock on deviantart