How to write a murder mystery party : #4 Writing character objectives

Missed any other the previous blogs on this series? Catch up here:

#1 | #2  |#3


Your Murder Mystery Party will rely on talk. Guests need to speak to each other in order to have any hope of developing their own characters and discovering the traits of others. This is where Character Objectives will provide guidance for the unsure and kindling for those already fired up.

Character Objectives are delivered throughout the night via objective cards. An objective card is a piece of paper in an envelope given to the character but not shown to anyone else. There can be various instructions on these cards which can include things such as:

  • Speaking to a certain character about gossip, suspicions or local news.
  • Completing an action either quietly or openly in front of the other characters
  • Trying to spread rumours about other characters
  • Speaking to the Detective to reveal a new piece of information

The key to writing objectives is making characters to interact who might not naturally gravitate toward each other and through those conversations revealing details about themselves or others in the room. Keep in mind the established relationships you’ve already written between your characters. Some examples:

– Ask Mr Smith about his relationship to the victim
– Tell the Detective your suspicions about Mr Doe
Congratulate Mrs Doe on her recent engagement
– Express an open dislike/liking for Mrs Smith
Invite some other characters to play a game of poker.

Keep your objectives quick, easy and fun.

Get people talking but don’t overcomplicate it and keep in mind that if you have some people who are fond of the drink, they shouldn’t have complicated and/or plot essential objectives towards the end of the evening. In our experience, when there are lots of people in the room it’s better to get people talking in small groups than ask them to perform actions (sneak out of the room, secretly move props etc) as people are usually too busy to notice subtle movements.

In the last blog we established that each character will need roughly 3 objective cards throughout the night and each of these cards can have as many or as few objectives on it as you like relating to the scene of the evening. See our blog #3 for a refresh.

The objectives throughout the night will be slightly different

You will use the objectives to point people in the right direction of the most likely suspects and to make characters reveal their potential motives.

Objective 1 should encourage people to talk about themselves – their views, work, experiences and relationships with others in the room and the victim.
Objective 2 should begin feeding the speculation about the murderer and point people in the direction of the most likely perpetrators.
Objective 3 should encourage characters to pursue their suspicions of 1 or 2 particular characters and give people some evidence.

E.G Mr Smith is suspicious of Mrs Doe (Mrs Doe is in fact the Murderer) In order to give Mr Smith some evidence Mrs Doe’s objective might be:

“Let slip that you had had a fight with the victim this week” or “Tell anyone who’ll listen that you won’t miss the victim now they’re gone” 

It’s also a good idea to tell characters that they’ve noticed something unusual or suspicious (even though they might not have). E.G:

“You notice that Mrs Doe and Mr Johnson have spent a lot of time chatting since the murder was announced, what could they possibly be talking about?”

When you’re writing your objectives imagine you’re writing a novel and telling characters what to do in order to progress the story to a conclusion.

Objectives for the Murderer

The murderers objectives may differ slightly but should reveal enough about their motive and guilt to allow other guests to suss it out.

Your murderer will also find out that they committed the crime via the objective card – we mentioned in the last blog that Objective 2 is when your murderer will find out but you could tell them at any time before the murder is revealed. Waiting for the 2nd objective has its benefits as the murderer can establish their character first rather than worry about being found out, conversely if your murderer knows as soon as the party starts they can get to work on covering their tracks or sewing suspicion.  A card saying “You are the murderer, cover your tracks and find a scapegoat” should suffice.

Objectives for the Detective

Your detective doesn’t necessarily need specific objectives – as we discussed in blog #2  their job is to push the night along and keep conversation and suspicion flowing. You may find it useful to tell your detective to interrogate certain characters or announce important plot points – it may also be helpful for your detective to interview people individually in the room as this can help spread information.

Objectives can seem a bit daunting at first but once you understand the relationships between your characters and have chosen your murderer it’ll all fall into place.

Next up we’ll be covering our favourite thing – costumes and props! Remember to subscribe to In Other Worlds to keep up to date and share your Murder Mystery party ideas with us!


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