Writers’ Asylum: Murder in Mind: Epilogue

The party is over. It’s time to clean up the mess and try not to notice how sticky the floor is.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed our party, and solved a mystery while you were here. You now have a bunch of stories, to do with as you please!

Thank you for coming along and taking part. The Asylum wouldn’t exist without its inmates. If you have any suggestions about things we could try or improve, let me know!

In the meantime, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out. You are released!

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Murder in Mind: Challenge #5

(New to Murder in Mind? Head back to our first post to get started!)

It’s getting late when, deep in the hubbub of the party, someone screams.

The music stops abruptly. The lights come up. The faces you have already written about look around the room.

There is an announcement that silences the room for a moment: the host has been killed. No-one is allowed to leave.

What has really happened? How many of the events of the evening were exactly what they seemed? Now is the time to tell us.

Challenge #5: The Final End

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Murder in Mind: Challenge #4

(New to Murder in Mind? Head back to our first post to get started!)

With so many people and so much going on, it’s inevitable that something will go missing. And now, something has. It’s an absence that someone notices, and cares about. An absence that someone mentions and will try to rectify.

The thing is, this something is not just missing: it has been taken.

Consider what this something is. Is it big or small? Precious to anyone, or only to specific people? What defines its value, and to whom? What is it and who does it truly belong to?

Why might someone take it? Revenge, greed, opportunity, justice, or a joke? Some other reason?

When the item’s absence is discovered, where is it? Has it already left the party, or is it secreted somewhere close by? Is it still in the thief’s possession? What happens when its owner starts to search for it? Who joins in to help, or steps aside?

Tell us the story of this theft, from the missing item’s perspective. What will its final fate be?

Challenge #4: Taken

Go to the next challenge!

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Murder in Mind: Challenge #3

(New to Murder in Mind? Head back to our first post to get started!)

We’ve seen what happens when things get testy between partygoers, but not all clashes at this party are angry. It has brought together people from many parts of the host’s life, including his or her past. Some bonds are remembered, some reforged. Some sparks are rekindled, while others are new.

The party rolls onwards. Food and drink are consumed. There might be dancing, perhaps some singing.

Two people are definitely feeling the less violent and more salacious sparks. (Or more than two, if you’re feeling adventurous!) Think about who they might be, and why it took this party to push them together in this way. Think about why it is they’re drawn to each other. A shared history? An animal chemistry? Chance and proximity?

Tell us about the sparks between these two, and how they go off to find somewhere to indulge in their passion. What happens when they get there?

Challenge #3: Rendezvous

Go to the next challenge!

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Murder in Mind: Challenge #2

(New to Murder in Mind? Head back to our first post to get started!)

The speech has been given and the party rolls on. Let’s think about some of the attendees to this little shindig now. There are the host’s family, friends, and work colleagues. There are possibly school friends, and people who share the host’s hobbies, like the gym or a club. They might be exes, or people who have supported the host in the past.

These people from all the different parts of the host’s life mix, likely with varying degrees of success and smoothness. Some of these people may have crossed paths before; some may not have. For some, they may only know what the host has told them of the others.

Inevitably, at some point, tensions flare into outright sparks. Think about those who might clash with each other. Focus in on two specific people, or three if you’re feeling ambitious. What might they clash about? Why would it come out here, at a public event? How enthusiastic will this clash get?

Show us the confrontation and how far it goes!

Challenge #2: Tete-a-tete

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Murder in Mind: Challenge #1

It’s time to throw a party. So let’s get started!

Who is the host of this special event? This person has invited everyone in his or her life to the party, from family to work colleagues to friends. Give them a name, an identity.

What kind of place does this host live in: city, village or space station? What is their typical day like? Do they work? If so, what sort of work? Where are they in the hierarchies of their life? Manager or managed? Parent or child, or both? How successful do they consider themselves to be?

Do they have a family? Partner? Ex-partners? Who are the people they are closest to in their life?

What are their aspirations? What’s next for this person?

Now let’s think about why they are throwing this party. The host doesn’t usually call all of these people – from the private and professional sides of their life, and from all the different parts of those arenas – together at the same time, so why now? There must be a purpose. Is it a celebration, commemoration, or announcement? An anniversary of some kind?

Does everyone know why they’re there? Has the host been up-front about his or her reasons for the party? Or has it been shrouded in mystery, or even lies and misleading phrasings? Was everyone told the same thing about the event? What did the host have to do to get everyone here?

Now let’s consider the party itself. What kind of venue is it being held in? Is it indoors or outdoors? On a boat? In space? In a lighthouse on a remote island?

How does the venue feel – is it crowded or spacious? Dim or bright? Is there music playing, and if there is, is it too loud to talk?

What is the tone in the room? Are people talking, or drinking? Getting along, or clashing? Awkward? Are they glad to be there, excited, feeling forced, coerced, or just happy there’s an open bar? (Is there an open bar?)

Let’s go to the point of the night when everyone has arrived and the party is just getting going. The host has decided to give a little speech or presentation, to let everyone know why they have been gathered there.

Walk us into the party, right up to moment when it’s falling quiet. All eyes are turning to the host. Show us the speech and its impact on the room.

Challenge #1: Welcome to the Party

Go to the next challenge!

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Writers’ Asylum: Murder in Mind: Prologue

Welcome to the Asylum. Today, we’re going to commit murder.

But first, we’re going to throw a party. We’re going to climb into the lives of the host and his or her guests, we’re going to see how they tick, and why. More interestingly, we’re going to see what happens when they’re mixed together.

I’m going to give you a series of instructions and prompts. You can take these instructions in any direction you wish: your imagination is encouraged to play. When each challenge is presented, you have an hour to write. Aim for 1,000 words and see where each challenge takes you!

So, get a drink, turn up the music, and settle in. It’s going to be a fun and perilous ride!

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Writers’ Asylum: Mental Battlefields: Epilogue

You’ve made it through the trials of war and a harrowing battle sequence. There was tension and doubt, lives on the line, loss and gain. At the end of it all, there was a victor, and a price for all to pay.

I hope you have found today’s challenges interesting and intriguing, and maybe even a little fun. We have barely scratched the surface of this story, have had only glimpses of these characters, but you’ve made them live and breathe.

Their story is done; their fate has been decided. You may go on to tell more of their stories, maybe even adjust their destinies if you wish. This world and this war is yours and yours alone. These battlefields are all in your mind.

Thank you for taking part in these challenges. I hope you go forward and continue to create new and interesting worlds, and the events that shape them.

The doors are open, a fresh breeze is coming in. The Asylum releases you. Good luck, and happy writing!

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Mental Battlefields: Challenge #5

Let’s move ahead. That first shot rang out ten years ago. Long or short, that final battle is all done now. The war is over. Let’s let the blood dry, the dust settle, and the fallout spread through the warring parties.

The smoke has cleared now. Think about what the battlefield looks like now, a decade later. How changed is it? What markers of the battle remain, if any?

Think about how that battle ended. Not everyone in the whole world was killed: let’s allow at least some to survive. A battle is for nought if there are none to remember it, and perhaps someone might learn something from this one to make better choices in the future.

Who stood victorious, when all was said and done? What was the cost, to both sides? What happened to the defeated side? How far did the ripples reach?

We know that the victors write history. Theirs is the story told loudest and most often. How was this battle framed by that story? How do the official reports say it went down?

The tenth anniversary of the battle is a chance for a commemorative event. Perhaps it’s official, or perhaps some veterans simply take it on themselves to do something. Which side were they on? Are they commemorating a great victory or a crushing defeat? Remembering those who fell?

How do they remember the last battle? How different is their view of it compared to the pubic memory? Do they recognise the battlefield as it is now? What do they do at this event? Are there speeches, or silence? Are there flowers, or banners?

Go back to one of the characters you wrote about in a previous challenge and bring them along. Give us a familiar voice and let it speak their perspective on all of this.

Tell us how it all ended, and the beginnings that followed it.

Challenge #5: Retrospect

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Mental Battlefields: Challenge #4

The wait is over when the first shot is fired. Whether it’s the first arrow that arcs over the battlefield, the first report of a gun, the first missile launched, or the first laser emitted, there’s always something that starts the deluge. That looses the dogs and starts the conflagration.

This is the action that kicks everything off. Is everyone ready to act? Are the forces in position? Has everyone woken from their rest and had their last bathroom break? Does everyone have their orders and understand what to do?

Focus on that first shot. Think about the person who fired it. Which side is he or she on? Were they reacting to a signal? An appointed time? Did they mean to fire it? Was it carefully calculated, perfectly aimed, and intended to precipitate this entire battle? Or was it the slip of a hand, careless sex on a control board, a badly-timed nap, or a malfunction that caused a misfire?

Was even the side the shot first came from ready for it? Did anyone try to stop it?

This time, focus on that shooter. Tell us how that first shot came to happen, and all of the things that it caused. Show us the impact on one of the front-line soldiers (assuming this particular battle has some). Feel free to pull in any and all of the previous characters you’ve written about, as you wish. The battle is starting, and you get to determine how it goes and for whom.

Challenge #4: Who Shot First

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