I seem to have trouble keeping up with my life these days. Usually, on Sundays I write a bunch of blog posts for the week. I didn't do that yesterday. We'll see how I do at posting regularly this week. My schedule is going to be intense.
To start the week, however, I'm going to answer a couple of questions people asked on Saturday.
A couple of people asked about writers' group. Not all groups are run the same, but this is how ours works. Our writers' group meets once a month. We exchange pieces that we've written before the meeting (either by passing it out the month before or by e-mailing a minimum of a week ahead of time to give people time to read). Then at the meeting the other members critique each piece that was submitted and offer suggestions. The purpose of our group is to help each person meet his or her own goal as a writer. We don't insist that everyone strive for publication. If their goal is to write a memoir for their family or something equally private, that's ok with us. During the critique, we ask that people say positive as well as critical things about the work. We have a rule that people aren't allowed to defend their writing ("You don't understand; this is what it's really saying"), but so far we've never had to enforce it. The group is small, but it's been meeting regularly for a year-and-a-half.
Murder Mystery Dinner
Michael and I didn't know what to expect here. From what I understand, with a small murder mystery dinner, each guest plays one of the roles and you don't know whether you're going to end up as the murderer or not. This dinner wasn't like that because it was a large group (about 50, I think). So the way it worked was that a cast gave little speeches about their relationship with the victim, and then they went around to the tables as we ate dinner and we could ask them questions. We had a set of questions we were supposed to ask each one, although we could add our own questions too. There were three rounds of speeches followed by questions, and then each table had to work as a team to guess who did it and why.
Michael and I were surprised that there wasn't any emphasis on clues--the weapon, footprints, broken objects, and the like. After we got home, I looked up the company the supplied the game and discovered that they categorize their games into character-based games and clue-based games. The one we were doing was a character-based game. We felt a little letdown that there wasn't much emphasis on clues. Before doing it, we assumed that both clues and character would be mixed. I don't know if all murder mystery game companies do it the same way or not. The other thing that took us back a little was the solution. In the particular game we played, the death turned out not to be a murder but an accident that someone was covering up for self-protection. So we felt it was a bit misleading. No one solved it correctly, although one table did guess that the person involved had committed the crime with his lover.
However, we still had a great time. The best part of it was watching friends from church act out all these silly characters and just have a great time hamming it up. Parts of it were very funny. It was interesting working as a team; some of the people at my table were folks I don't interact with often. They split Michael and me into separate groups, which isn't our normal way of doing things, but I can see why they did it that way. Everyone had managed to put together a costume for his or her character. Also, the mystery was set in an English manse, so the committee that put it on made an English-themed dinner for us: shepherd's pie and trifle. It tasted good, so I blew off my diet for the night and ate it all.
I think I'd do it again. The unexpected aspects of the event wouldn't bother me so much a second time if I knew what to expect. I also think it might be fun to try a smaller one sometime that made it seem more like I was really inside the mystery.
Have any of you done murder mysteries and what type were they?