The Omniscient perspective
This is essentially you as the deliverer and facilitator of the experience. You hold the position of the wizard behind the curtain as creator, designer of the narrative. You know everything there is to know about that world that your players are journeying through.
The first point is, make sure your players never get a peek behind the curtain. Place yourself as a believable part of the narrative, because if you are just the facilitator, the players will eventually call upon your deity-like power to help them in some way. You should only use your power if something in the experience is about to go wrong, but beyond that, be the “wizened old sage” that offers advice when needed, or the “miraculous oracle” that gives hints when asked.
The second point is that you are naturally still in control of the experience, do not let yourself slip into character as it were. Use the character, tools and mechanisms of the narrative keep the sense of agency, urgency, and pressure going for your players. Give them a “ticking clock”. It could be a real clock, or hourglass, or a metaphorical, or a deadline. But make sure they are constantly being pushed.
Show & Tell
This may be an obvious one, or it may not be, but always try to show your players rather than tell them. If you have a great narrative, bring photo’s or videos to create the atmosphere and explain the theme and the world they find themselves in. Try not to read out or let them read a long piece on what the story is and where they are. This doesn’t really convey much excitement to them and removes some of the fun.
Even just an audio piece can be more interesting than a block of text. And don’t worry too much if it’s corny, in all likelihood your players will find it more endearing anyway.
As long as it remains fun and suspenseful, then showing more than telling has had the desired effect.
End with satisfaction
Always, and always, have your players answer the question, make the discovery and/or resolve the conflict. They always need to leave the experience with some satisfaction in what they went through was worthwhile. They need closure, even when they fail.
Depending on the narrative that you create for your experience you can choose to reveal the outcome if they’ve failed or kept it a secret if they wish to come back. Unfortunately, there is no hard, fast rule about whether to reveal or not, you’ll simply have to judge their overall mood.
But whether they succeeded or failed, your players should have a sense of fulfillment and you should leave them with wanting more. If you have a larger experience that can be done episodically over a longer period of time, then you can use the “cliff-hanger” mechanic.
Mostly what leaving them with wanting more means is that they were so immersed in the experience that they actually don’t want to leave it. And to achieve this, it needs to be a compelling narrative with meaningful challenges that push players to work hard and together to overcome them. Once they start to create that shared narrative, they’ll most likely not want the experience to end.
Nevertheless, though, the experience must end, and with one last piece of advice when creating any narrative experience, always start with the end. And by this, I mean that you should start with the end. Dream up how your experience ends, what is the big reveal, the answer to the big question. Once you have this, start working backward, creating the latticework of the journey that your players will go on. And test your idea for your ending, ask friends, family, colleagues whether they feel it’s a strong enough ending, would they enjoy discovering the answer? If so, then your players will most likely leave your experience satisfied and happy.
I hope this piece helps you in better understanding the idea and concepts when creating mystery in narratives so that your players remain motivated.