Anyone who has ever written anything knows how easy it is to visualize an idea but difficult to put it on paper. Not only do you have to do it once, but again and again, until you have something that can be shared, understood, and hopefully enjoyed and appreciated.
The script of my first feature film had to be original and groundbreaking. I was not going to be satisfied with anything less. Not only did a unique story have to unfold, it had to be truly original in style, treatment and plot. It had to bend or break any stereotypes set beforehand.
Keeping these considerations in mind, I decided to either go for the horror or the mystery genre. The final decision was made keeping in mind marketing possibilities and the budget. I decided I would give mystery a shot. I am a great fan of mystery stories, and I have been reading them since I was eleven years old. My favourite sub-genre is the locked room mystery, and this is what I decided to dive into.
A locked room murder mystery is a murder that happens in an enclosed space (like a room) that is usually sealed hermetically in such a fashion that when the murder happens, it is impossible to discern how the crime occurred or how the criminal vanished from that space. In the end, there is always a solution to these puzzles, and the greatest locked room mystery in my opinion is The Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux, followed very closely by The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr. The beauty of locked room murder mysteries is the fact that they perplex the reader exactly as a magician manages to do on stage. You witness the illusion right before your eyes but you cannot grasp at how it was performed; even long after the event has taken place. The sense of wonder stays with you as long as you don’t have the answer to the puzzle. But the moment you do, you lose interest, rationalize the process and refuse to believe you were deceived in this simple way. This is the greatest disadvantage of a locked room murder mystery – once the secret is revealed, there is a sense of disappointment, even if the solution is brilliant. Do we wonder towards an end, or for its own sake?
So this was the challenge I put forth to myself. Can I accomplish a truly original locked room puzzle of my own? I set about to write the story by constructing the puzzle first. Due to budgetary considerations, it had to be a simple crime. So I made it as simple as they come – a locked room with one door and one window. It took me a month to construct a puzzle and characters to my liking. There was only one catch – I didn’t have the solution to my own puzzle!
Finally, after six months of struggling with the concept, challenging myself to find better and better solutions with each revision, I stumbled upon the answer to The Impossible Murder. Now it was time to begin constructing the screenplay. I will discuss the style of The Impossible Murder in my next post.
Until then, keep reading.