Friday, July 8, 2011

Power Hour

I never knew what a power hour was until I researched it for my next book.  It's kind of crazy.

Being on an Internet hiatus is really spectacular.  I can sit down and read for more than ten minutes at a time without checking my Facebook status or email (which is usually junk anyway).  If I can figure out a way to structure in Twitter too, I might just keep things this way.

I've been reading (and listening) to a lot of Agatha Christie lately.  I'm not sure why.  It started out because I read that the book THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD featured a really well done twist.  But then I couldn't stop.  I've put away half-a-dozen Christie books since then.

One thing that I noticed her do while reading THE ABC MURDERS was being meta.  She used her narrator, Captain Hastings, who frequently read pulp mystery novels, to comment upon the concept of mystery novels themselves.  I can't repeat the conversation verbatim but he and the hero Hercule Poirot, were discussing how dreadfully boring a mystery novel became when the murder was committed in the first act and then the rest of the book was spent looking at clues.  Hastings commented that books would be more interesting if murders occurred in greater numbers throughout the book or the murder happened later.

I don't know if Christie was using this conversation between Hastings and Poirot to directly speak to her audience, critics, or whathaveyou.  I'm curious to do a little research to see if she face criticism at the time for becoming too set in her ways.  But the interesting thing is that THE ABC MURDERS featured multiple murders spread throughout the book, and the one I finished before that A PERIL AT END HOUSE featured a murder that didn't happen until 80 pages in!

There's really no point here.  It was just an interesting point that I noticed.  I tried something similar once.  I had a character who used the medium of a graphic novel to speak directly to the reader to make a commentary on the events I was writing.  However, in revisions I realized I wasn't speaking to the reader, but to myself.  That character was how I was making sense of the story in that first draft, and in future drafts, I cut that character completely (though I kept the concept of the graphic novel).

So maybe there is a point:  If you find you have a character speaking directly to the audience, explaining things, maybe you should be the one listening to what that character has to say.

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