The novel script though it may seem daunting, writing a murder mystery is doable if you adhere to some fundamental guidelines. Timeless formulas exist for a reason – they WORK.
This particular genre continues to grow in popularity with no end in sight. Though not accessible, taking the time to write a good murder mystery novel script will be worthwhile in the long run.
It is difficult to draw the audience into a murder mystery and immerse them in the plot. There are several clichés to avoid, and the subject is so well-known and popular that there are numerous tropes to avoid.
However, there are also crucial moments to hit. With all of this being said, you may perceive what the crime writer is talking about.
Murder mysteries are wildly popular in TV, movies, novels, and even dinner party games. It’s become a distinct sub-genre in our culture.
With so many murder mysteries already in existence, it will be challenging to make your script unique. You’ll need some original ideas to ensure that your work is distinguishable from the rest. But more importantly, these ideas must align with what readers expect from work in this genre.
To pen a successful murder mystery, one must consider many vital elements. This guide explores what makes a great novel script and the steps necessary to write one…
Define – A Murder Mystery?
A murder mystery is a sub-genre of the crime genre that, as its name suggests, focuses on homicide. It often involves violence, investigative teams, and heartbreak for the victim’s loved ones, which creates rich, dramatic potential.
“A fatal head wound doesn’t just develop out of thin air.”
Readers who enjoy psychological thrillers may also like murder mysteries, and vice versa. Furthermore, there is often a crossover between the two genres.
The film’s climax is constructed by a crime writer around the murder of a person and the investigation into who was responsible. The killing occurs early in the narrative, and various hints are dropped before the grand revelation of who did it.
A murder mystery has always been famous in the context of novels. This popularity usually transfers onto the screen.
Furthermore, the genre is constantly shifting and updating, keeping itself relevant.
Murder mysteries have been on screens frequently throughout history. It is easy to track the genre back to the birth of cinema. However, it has remained relatively intact in modern times. This is because such films not only subvert but also fully satisfy genre norms, producing one-of-a-kind and unique pieces. Several excellent contemporary murder mysteries take various forms and illustrate the breadth of the genre, including…
10 Ways to Write a Murder Mystery Novel Script
1. What kind of murder mystery do you want to create?
Choosing what your murder mystery will be may not seem like a difficult task, but it can help you avoid future problems. The first step involved is figuring out what adventure tale you want to tell. And this should serve as the starting gun for your narrative. It must be plausible yet intriguing.
To do so, make a list of significant events in the case.
- Why is the murder still a mystery?
- Who is the prime suspect?
- Is there a potential for murder, and will we witness it?
- What does the murder scene look like?
The questions mentioned above will assist you in determining what your murder mystery is all about. You may then begin working on the structure and a solid plot.
The nature of the killing frequently sets your tale apart from others in its category and market. So don’t screw this up. Make your murder remarkable and unique.
2. How to Set Up a Murder Mystery
First, you must establish the backdrop of your murder mystery. Once you have determined the circumstances and setting, move on to thinking about how you will present it in the story.
- How will this be integrated into the plot?
- Is the murder at the beginning of your script?
- Is the killing merely suggested, or will you witness someone get murdered mysteriously?
- Who will find the corpse?
Setting up your murder mystery novel script should feel like second nature, with nothing too complicated leading up to the viewing for everyone to be on the same page.
Since this is the sub-genre of preference, the script should focus on the murder. As a result, setting it up will need to be an art form in and of itself.
3. The Characters In Your Murder Mystery Script
The duration of the characters in your script is critical to the screenplay’s success. Characters may provide another layer to the story by adding a humorous element through one or more personae or making characters relatable.
When creating a story, you want these people to work together in the manner you desire to tell the tale. These are the individuals who will make your narrative seem real.
As a result, developing their personalities, interpersonal relationships, and connection with the audience becomes an inflection point in screenwriting development.
Choosing your protagonist is essential to how you’ll tell your tale and what you’ll communicate to the audience. This character will drive your narrative. As a result, getting to know all there is to know about him or her is critical in creating a convincing murder mystery script.
Furthermore, there are numerous levels to the number of characters in a script.
- Who is the protagonist, and who is the antagonist?
- Who are the auxiliary characters?
- Is the detective working alone or with others? Who is the mastermind behind their activities?
Not only are characters crucial to every screenplay, but in a murder mystery script, the way they interact is key to driving the edited manuscript.
With the murder mystery concept and set-up complete, the next step is determining the story’s perspective.
The protagonist’s perspective is not always from the detective leading the investigation. In some narratives, such as Zodiac, the focus is on a different character altogether; in this story, it was from a newspaper cartoonist who becomes just as obsessed with solving the case.
Even if the mystery has been solved, the protagonist must be the most active participant in the case’s solution. And this is why a detective is usually chosen as the protagonist since they are responsible for unraveling the crime.
How the tale is conveyed will alter how you write the script and how successfully it is believed. How you want your characters to connect with the audience will also influence this choice.
5. The Clues
Clues are frequently included in murder mysteries via the screenplay – either through the settings, props, or dialogue. The clues can keep people engaged by enticing them with the prospect of figuring out if they’re correct.
The narrative’s tension should increase the drama’s excitement and suspense. The climax of your narrative arc should rise simultaneously with the stress in your story.
The audience should feel closer to finding the murderer as the story progresses or that an incorrect character has become a top suspect. The key is making sure the audience feels like there is forward momentum.
Red herrings are occasionally inevitable, but it is essential to remember that when looking back at the evidence, does the information given make sense with that person being the murderer? The audience should not be completely shocked when the murderer is revealed, although it can be a surprise.
Clues are like incentives for the audience. When a mystery is opaque, clues are pieces of the puzzle that can help solve it. And the pleasure you may get from watching this can’t be overstated.
6. Rise The Tension
The protagonist getting closer to solving the mystery is usually when tension rises. For example, this could look like the protagonist zeroing in on the suspect. All of the previous build-ups reach their potential at this point in the story.
We made sure to pay attention to the tiny details surrounding the murder and the potential suspect. Now it’s time for us to get started on what we originally came here for – finding out who did it.
At this point, things start getting interesting, as we must now balance our previous investment in the story with the suspense of not knowing what will happen next.
It’s critical to raise the stakes in this sense. Otherwise, the sensation of progression might be diminished. In one way or another, it must seem like all of the protagonist’s efforts were doomed to failure.
They’ve gone through all this effort to get near the murderer, and now they (or perhaps their family or the victim’s family) are in danger. It’s no longer just a question of who killed him; it’s about whether or not the protagonist survives.
7. Timing Is Key
Coordinating the different components and moving pieces must occur at the appropriate time. This will ensure that these elements coexist to construct the tale you desire if everything is timed correctly. The twist and reveal will be unforeseen when the timing is perfectly balanced.
The clues must be released in a timely manner, or it will sabotage the entire mystery. The key revelations should come when the tension is dense, so your protagonist feels trapped.
This makes solving the mystery feel like there’s more at stake. If the case has dragged out over weeks, months, or years, why should we, as readers, only start feeling tense now?
This is when the timing is most important – the crucial steps in the protagonist’s investigation must come at the worst possible moment. Or, to put it another way.
8. What Is Your Shocking Twist?
Having a surprising twist might stick with the audience after watching it. A twist in a narrative can keep the audience hooked, keeping them on their toes. However, making sure that this twist isn’t anticipated but is nonetheless a believable component of the story’s progression is essential.
A twist can leave the audience reeling, reflect upon what has transpired thus far, and create a deeper connection to the story.
It also serves to raise tension and increase the stakes at a crucial moment in the narrative. When it appears everything comes together, something completely unexpected happens and throws off the entire case. This will only pique the audience’s curiosity further and keep them hooked until the end.
9. The Ending
The conclusion is your chance to expose who committed the crime and why they did it. Just make sure to give the audience all the information required to satisfy the conclusion.
The conclusion is the most crucial part of any murder mystery play because it must be able to meet preconceived notions developed throughout the plot.
It must make sense when you reveal the killer; otherwise, your audience will be disappointed. What many people enjoy about a murder mystery is the climax to discovering who murdered them. As a result, an unsatisfactory conclusion may make the entire experience seem pointless.
Like all narrative conclusions, the conclusion to a murder mystery screenplay is about tying everything together. And in this respect, the murder mystery finale’s structure is apparent. Essentially, it’s the solution to the vital issue investigated throughout the novel script-who did it?
The most gratifying part of getting the answer is often understanding why it happened rather than who did it. This is, to an extent, the final piece to solving the puzzle. The sequence of events leading up to this point might be considered the how. Then in rapid succession, in the end, both the who and why are revealed.
Who is the person we all want to know about? However, it’s the way that will stay with readers. Why did this character commit murder? This is frequently where you’ll find the film’s central theme and defining, long-lasting distinction.