Mystery Plot Summary & Outline – Death of the DJ

This is a complete plot outline. I do suggest you change the characters to suit you and maybe some other stuff if you have better ideas. This is just a basic outline to get you started, either writing this story or seeing a visual of outlining your own story. Enjoy!

The Plot Summary

A radio announcer is stabbed to death with a needle, in the back, at a mill. The detective discovers a message that is undecipherable and a paint brush. The initial suspects include a defeated antagonist, a peon, a political agitator and possibly an author. The author is the murderer and the motive is the author wants to punish a bigamist.

The Plot Updated to the Present Day

Radio announcers are not the big stars they once were. Sure, there are some big names around but DJs, VJs, and bloggers are more current. A needle in the back? Hat pins aren’t the fashion they once were.

The detective – and this is up to you to decide – can be a series character or a standalone person for this story. You decide the gender and age. For the purpose of this plot outline, I am making the detective a 31-year-old man and I’m calling him John.

John becomes involved in uncovering the murderer because the victim is a friend of his, a guy he knew since they were in grade school. John discovers a message that is undecipherable in the victim’s apartment. I’m calling the victim Vic. John also finds a paint brush. Not an artist’s brush but a 3-inch-wide, high quality paint brush for painting walls or furniture. It’s new and still in the bag from the hardware store.

The initial suspects include a defeated antagonist, a peon, a political agitator and possibly an author. The defeated antagonist is another DJ who has lost customers to Vic. The peon is an unskilled laborer who knew John and Vic in high school but he dropped out and has not been successful in life. The political agitator and the author are friends of Vic.

The author is the murderer who wants to punish Vic because of a bigamist.


Main Character – John

Impact Character – Brenda

Victim – Vic


Annie is the political agitator

Peter is the unskilled laborer

Roland is the author

Tim is the defeated antagonist


Brainstorm the characters and make them people you want to write about for the duration of the novel.

This is what I did. I took the primary characters, John, Brenda, and Vic, and worked out the relationship among them. John and Vic have been friends since childhood and they met Brenda in high school. A love triangle emerged with John loving Brenda and Brenda loving Vic. John has always been jealous of Vic because of this and as they grew older and began their adult lives, they drifted apart.

At one point, Vic and Brenda had an affair. Brenda married someone else but the marriage did not last long. She also renewed her affair with Vic during her marriage. Vic played the field, having a lot of affairs. He met many women in his job as a DJ catering to various events.

When Vic is murdered, Brenda reaches out to John and she is the impact person who forces him to become involved in the investigation. In spite of being jealous, John also had fond feelings for Vic and is upset at losing his old friend before they could mend their tattered relationship.

The memory of the love he had for Brenda is also a factor in his agreement to help find out who killed their friend.

Emotions make people do peculiar things and this sets up a way for emotions to drive the logical geek John. Well, here it is laid out in a chapter by chapter plot.


The Plot Chapter by Chapter with a lot of work by The Hero’s Journey approach

Beginning – Chapters 1-5: The Setup

Chapter 1.

Vic is in a sawmill that has been repurposed as a theatrical venue. He is a celebrity DJ and he is setting up an elaborate sound system. You pick the town or city and change his name, the gender, and career if you like.

He’s 31 years old and a handsome man. He is dead from a lethal injection of illegal drugs.

Chapter 2.

John is the protagonist. He and Vic were friends since they were 11 years old. It was a complicated relationship because they were friends by default, both of them being misfits as only 11-year-olds can be misfits. John is also 31 years old and an accomplished computer geek.

He is surprised at his grief at never having reached out to Vic and reminisces about the way they were. And about Brenda.

Chapter 3.

Brenda gets in touch with John. She is devastated about Vic’s death and wants John to work with her to find out who killed their friend. John is eaten with jealousy as fresh as it was when he was a teenager.

Chapter 4.

John comes to terms with his jealousy and begins to investigate the murder.

Chapter 5. Plot point

John finds a hidden note when he gets into Vic’s apartment. He cannot make sense of it and he takes it with him.

Middle – Chapters 6-15: The Confrontation

Chapter 6.

John questions what he knew about his childhood friend. The note seems to indicate that Vic had been married. He doesn’t want to ask Brenda about it. Everyone’s emotions are too raw.

Chapter 7.

John struggles with his jealousy and with his feelings for Brenda. He does not want to make her think he is attacking anything good about Vic out of jealousy.

Chapter 8. Pinch Point

John goes back to Vic’s apartment to return the note and he looks around and finds a new paint brush still in the store’s plastic bag.

Chapter 9.

John gets serious about looking the possible suspects. He goes to talk to Tim, the defeated antagonist and Annie the political agitator.

He is no further ahead after talking to them and when he asked if Vic was planning to paint his apartment, Annie laughs and says he would likely get his buddy Peter to do that.

Chapter 10. Midpoint (Plot Point)

John goes to see Peter, an unskilled laborer who knew John and Vic in high school but he dropped out and has not been successful in life. Peter seems happy in his life, doing what he likes to do. He reminisces about their high school days and mentions Roland who wanted to write about Vic. John goes back to Vic’s apartment and sees that the note has be torn so that the top part is missing. The bottom part is innocuous.


Chapter 11.

Who has access to the apartment?  John had picked the lock and stolen a spare key the first time he went to explore. He also wants to talk to Roland.

Chapter 12. Pinch Point

John arranges to talk to Roland and asks him to meet him at his apartment. He cannot connect with Roland and decides to go to visit Brenda to talk it over with her. He finds a threatening note under the wiper on his car.

Chapter 13.

He and Brenda focus on the suspects and for once, John realizes that he is not jealous and feels very stupid for having been jealous of a dead man. He begins to really mourn the loss of his old friend.

Chapter 14.

He wonders as he goes back home after seeing Brenda about all the life he has been missing. He thinks about the threat and wonders who he upset so much. None of the people he talked to seemed to be very emotional.

Chapter 15. Plot Point.

On the way home, John goes back to Vic’s place and this time he finds evidence that papers have been burned in the kitchen sink. He sees that one of the things burned was a photograph.

End – Chapter 16-20: The Resolution

Chapter 16.

John goes through Vic’s photo album and sees where the photo had been. It is orderly done so he can see that it was when Vic had been living with a woman. The next pages of the album showed that Vic was living in a different place and the photos were featuring a different woman. And more women after that.

Chapter 17.

Brenda and John get together with Peter.  They see no reason why Peter would have killed Vic. When Brenda leaves the room, Peter tells John what a womanizer Vic was but he didn’t want to upset Brenda because he knew she had been one of them. He only lived with one but that ended when one of his “side women” created a scene and then went home and committed suicide.

Chapter 18. Climax

On the way home, John asks Brenda if she knew about the woman who killed herself. Yes. She is ashamed to admit that she had kind of stalked Vic and she knows the name of who the woman was.

Chapter 19. Denouement

John searches online for the obituary for the dead girlfriend and discovers that she was Roland’s sister. Roland is arrested and admits he killed the man for ruining his sister’s life.

Chapter 20.

John feels that he can be friends with Brenda and they spend time together, doing things and remembering the good things from the past but they know they have to move on.


Have you grabbed the sample brainstorming kit yet?

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