Thursday, November 11, 2010

Learning from Agatha Christie

After I had decided to try my hand at writing mysteries last summer, I stumbled upon the deal of the week on eBay:  32 mysteries by Agatha Christie for  $18, with shipping ( 56 cents each.  What a deal!)  The books were all paperback and in readable condition. Good enough for me.

So I'm through at least 10 of them by now and still think they're a great deal, although many originally sold for less than 56 cents.  Can we say brittle pages?  Quaint 60's covers?

No matter.  I plowed onward.  Some things I've learned:

  • Christie wrote fascinating puzzles.  I thought I had spied the murderer in one book but she'd fed me the red herring with expertise.
  • The characters in her novels are cardboard and cliched.
  • That does not diminish the charm for me, which is surprising since I write and love character-driven novels.
  • Those old Brits were a rude and argumentative bunch.
  • Which only adds to the charm of the stories, for me.
  • Writing murders is easier than planning a real murder, since the writing can be deleted, changed, and slanted as soon as the author sees a mistake - or new red herring.

This is a hopeless addiction, I have to admit.  The mysteries are brilliantly plotted with creative twists and turns.  I love the surprise at the end, even if I don't care which of the cardboard characters gets the handcuffs this time.  Justice always wins out.

Can I learn to write mysteries?  That was the point of this exercise.

For NaNoWriMo, guess what I'm writing?  Fantasy.

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