Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blog posts for writers - April 24


And relax from Adventures In Writing

A Writer’s Life: Permission to Take a Break at Book View Cafe


Win a Scottish Festival via Scotland for the Senses

Since I have so few links, I thought I'd offer a thought on writing. Tonight I reread one of Agatha Christie's mysteries, At Bertram's Hotel, published in 1965.

This novel broke many "rules." It started out with three and a half pages of description of the hotel. I was nine pages in before it got to the main character, Miss Marple. It jumped to minor viewpoint characters frequently. It meandered and left me wondering who exactly was the main character.

It was brilliant.

Even reading as a writer, I often forgot to note her stylistic choices. I loved the description of the hotel - which was really a description of the people in the hotel. I rarely minded the viewpoint jumps - all the the characters were interesting, and added to the story, even the daft old man who couldn't remember which day it was. Ms. Christie built up the clues, layer by layer, slowly and gently as falling leaves, and as inexorably as winter.

I still managed to pick the wrong villain. How embarrassing.

What made this book work so brilliantly? Her voice. Her choice of words.

Even in omniscient POV, but particularly in distant third, I could feel her love for her characters and their foibles. I could feel the old man's dismay at forgetting where he was, and his joy in remember where he was going. I enjoyed the wandering paths of the novel, even when I couldn't see how they related to the whole.

She made me feel the heart of her story. I believe that is why her books are still in print today.

Have you read anything recently that you thought should not have worked, but did?


  1. Great example Deb, I'll have to check that one out. I think Agatha Christie's books get away with not following convention because - like you said - she draws you into the story. I haven't read anything that should't work but does lately but I'll keep you posted if I find something :)

  2. Hi Isabella! It is a matter of taste, isn't it? Before I started writing seriously, I was easy to please. Now I'm picky, which is hard on a readaholic. :-)


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