Saturday, September 2, 2017

How to craft a ‘Whodunnit’



I came up with an idea for a murder mystery, in the classic Agatha Christie style, but had no idea how to go about crafting one of those. Rereading many of Christie’s books is a lot of fun, but I get so into the story that I forget to look for the patterns that make up the puzzle. 

Next, I tried Christie’s notebooks. That yielded some good clues as to how it was done, but still something was missing.
I felt I needed something more to put it all together and write one of my own. 

Sitting in a meeting at work one day it came to me. We were talking about how best to seed a sales funnel with marketing content and how there are distinct point along that funnel where say an email recipient will click on a link and look at a product. Just as there is then another point where looking at the product data turns into a request for a presentation which - hopefully - turns into a sale. 

So too with the whodunnit puzzle. You start off with many suspects and through a series of turning points along the funnel the number gets whittled down until you have the culprit. 

Now before you think it’s simple and straightforward, let me assure you it’s not. Just like the customer journey is no longer linear, there are many double backs, red herrings and blind alleys in creating a satisfying murder mystery. 
But the funnel idea with pivotal points where suspects are cleared and clues are added or lost, is a sound one. It gives the writer a place to start putting information for the puzzle, because the writer needs to know who did it and why, but also who the other players are and what part they play. 

If anything it’s a fun exercise in writing and it may just yield a story or a book. We’ll see. 


In the meantime, a short and fun murder mystery - Tulip Craze - can be found on my website under the ‘shop’ tab. As always, sales are secure through a vetted 3rd party and use PayPal. I won’t get to see any of your information.