Charity shopping

The best thing about charity shopping, apart from returning home arms laden with new purchases, has to be the knowledge that you have given money to charity in the process! Forget ethical goods, where just a percentage goes to the third world, with charity shopping EVERYTHING goes to charity. It’s a win/win proposition!

I’ve always been a charity shopper, ever since my first Saturday job in the Red Cross. I like the hunting through the rails for bargains, colours, styles, and can whip in and out of a shop, having tried on 4 possibles within the space of 15 minutes. Louth, a small market town near me, has a myriad of charity shops, and I had a great day there on Saturday with a couple of girlie friends trying on a range of different clothes and hunting out a bargain monsoon jacket for just £4.50! (Not for me I might ad, they fought over it instead!) And searching high and low for just the right “spy who killed me” killer dress. Unfortunately I didn’t find just the right cocktail dress for me, but Driffield is just over the humber and I think we might venture in that direction next, on the way up to Robin Hoods bay for another of my favourite passtimes, fossil hunting.

One rehearsal behind me

Well, that’s one rehearsal out of the way – just a read through of the parts this time around.

Next rehearsal for me and a couple of the other newbies will be 23rd April, the night before the big event. By then I’ll have learned the part (hopefully) – usually I just start practising the same week as the event, and by the Friday I’m word perfect.

Between now and then, of course, I have to find a sexy spy outfit and somewhere to carry a gun. Fortuantely I’m off shopping with the girlies this Saturday.

How do you write murder mystery games?

It’s a question I’m often asked, but in truth, it isn’t easy to explain. Like any writing media, be it screenplays, novels or poems, it’s a skill you have to learn. Of course, there are formatting requirements, just as there are for any screenplay, but the main issues with murder mystery games, as apposed to stories are that they are supposed to be solveable. No last minute revelations like you get in books or screenplays which make you think “Aha!” – no, everything has to be there, plain as day, and yet, somehow entwined with red herrings and other plots so that it isn’t as easy as it first appears.

OK – so maybe I’m rambling. I talk like I think, so getting ideas on paper (or should I say screen) isn’t easy for me. (Ask the authors I’ve mentored. My “how to” files are longer than all my planning documents for my own games!)

Anyway – you want to know HOW I write the games. Well. First off I think of an idea, a theme. Then I decide what characters I want involved in the plot. Unlike books or films, these have to be characters that people will WANT to dress up as. So the more stereotypical the better. Only after I have the theme and the suspect identities and names will I flesh out an idea for the actual mystery. It goes something like this:

Not too easy to see – as it’s my working copy of my best seller “Smashed Hits” but there you go – get out a magnifying glass if you must!

Anyway – in the middle is the dead man. And around the edges are my characters. Underneath the character names I then come up with motives. And only motives, as all my characters need one. After that’s done I decide on how the dead body is found and how he dies ( NOTE : NOT who killed him). And thats as far as my planning goes! After that I just start writing and see what happens.

Each character’s information is broken down into 5 sections. Section 1 – introductory speech, Sections 2, 3, and 4 – answers they will be asked to provide to certain questions (or in otherwords motive, means and opportunity – only one of the characters will have ALL three) and then section 5 – a concluding speech. as I’ve said before filling in all this information takes me around 15 hours after that it’s writing up an inspector part, and some scripted dialogues to liven things up on the night.

“That sounds easy enough” I hear you all say – why on earth are you getting paid for it? – simple answer – EVERYTHING SOUNDS EASY – you just try making it all work! Of course, I’ve got my own way of doing things to make things less complicated, which I share with other aspiring authors – but it isn’t easy even then. Getting it exactly right is an art, and that is why you get writers and writers. Everyone can write, not everyone can write.

Of course, that’s just the small group games. Large group games are much, much more complex and there is no easy way to explain them at all.

They start off in the same way – (this is mobsters, mols and murder I’m working on right now) and then they evolve into something more like this:


Which looks a little more complicate but still doesn’t convey all I’m holding in my head at any one time, you see, in the large group multi-room games EVERYONE needs a MOTIVE, EVERYONE needs OPPORTUNITY and EVERYONE needs a MEANS. The detective work is working out who did what when and working out exactly WHO killed them from that information. E.g. were they dead before they were shot, strangled, poisoned, stabbed, or was it one of those that killed him?

These multi-room games are agonising to write, and there is NO simple fix for these apart from hard grafting slog. But BOY are they fun.

Which reminds me – did I already say I’m having to stand in and act for the upcoming fundraiser? 24th April – it’ll be me, up there, threatening the “new recruits” as Diane Otherday.

Oh no! It’s that time of year again!

The dull thud on the doormat should have said it all, but alas, alack I opened the thick buff envelope without any trepidation, and what should fall out – but the red folder with “YOUR SELF ASSESSMENT PERSONAL TAX DATA” written all over it.

Fortunately I have a good accountant who deals with all that, but it still needs me to find all the “blasted” receipts, get them into some semblance of order and work out how on earth she is going to figure out just where all my money went (yet again) this year – because it certainly isn’t with me!!!

My latest murder mystery game!

The Surgical Strike! – 6, 8, 10, 12 players and large group version all available.

Listen to the teaser here: Sir Ringe tells all

High Gables Hospital has a good reputation. The staff are, in the main, friendly and helpful and the hospital is clean and hygienic. Standards are high, even in the hospital canteen, a true rarity in the medical world!

Unfortunately during a routine inspection of the hospital today, a problem was discovered, namely a dead body in the hospital canteen.

On closer examination the dead body was discovered to be none other than a gentleman of some repute, the head surgeon Mr Richard (Ricky) Mortice.

Fellow staff have gathered at the canteen to discuss his death and to uncover, if possible, what caused it.

Igloo filming.

Spent last night watching the first scenes of “With Jane in Mind” being filmed. Although Igloo films is small (a three man team) it’s very professional and the evening has given me a whole new insight into how films come together and the complexities of it all. Wow.

It was fascinating to see the difference between shooting the scene and just watching the scene. Somehow shrinking what your eyes naturally see made everything seem so much more intense, even boring conversation seemed… well, intense. Weird.

As to where Igloo came from – apparently it was what could fit on the box! So much for a story behind it all!!

babysitting, but the muse won’t come

Oh drat! There was I thinking that an evening babysitting for friends would enable me to finish Mobsters, Mols and Murder off. How wrong can I be? Their laptop won’t take my version of MSoffice and I can’t find the “save” button anywhere! Needless to say I haven’t achieved very much. But I have reviewed the failed entry for the Rise Films summer challenge, and, after looking it over again and making one or two very minor changes I think it really deserves to be sent into the BBC writersroom script department to get their opinion on it. Who knows, just because one group thinks it’s bad, maybe another lot might like it. I mean, it’s happened before. The red planet finalist piece I submitted had been through the writersroom at the BBC already and didn’t even get past the first 10 page review, so perhaps it’ll work the other way this time around?! I can but hope. Meanwhile I really need to crack on with some new work. I’ve got some ideas, as ever, it’s just finding the time… oh – and a compatible computer!!

Dead fish

If it’s not poison gas cylinders, flick knife shoes or letter bombs, it’s dead fish.

Today has seen me in Sixhills Aquatic Centre negotiating with them to obtain a tank, stand and some “stunt” fish for the upcoming Igloo filming screenplay.

Note to self: next time write something that doesn’t require dead fish!

Oh – don’t worry – no fish are going to be harmed in the making of the film!

My working environment

This, believe it or not, is the desk on a good day!!

To the bottom of the picture is a pizza (courtesy of my son – it’s from his plastic kitchen set) and some Thomas pictures he is colouring in. Above that, with the yellow highlighting, is the current filming schedule for Igloo filming, the name the three men from the Cleethorpes Camera Club are calling their “quasi-professional” group. And just above that you can see the glasses I wear for screen work. (I’m long sighted – the computer screen is my only problem, I can hold books far enough away!) All the rest of the apparent “junk” is actually work in progress. Hmmm… I really should tidy.

Duvets

I’ve decided there are three types of men in life.

1) The type that put the duvet into the cover by climbing inside it.
2) The type that do it properly (i.e. turning it inside out and then folding it back down onto the duvet).
3) The type that wait until the wife gets home and leave it to them.

I’ll leave it to you to guess which one my own husband fits into.