Kay: Agatha Christie’s Villains

We’ve been talking about plots this week—Jilly about what she likes; Jeanne, what she doesn’t; and Elizabeth, how many plot elements in a story are too many. In keeping with the theme (especially Elizabeth’s theme of murder mysteries), I found a great article by Dorothy Gambrell in Bloomberg Businessweek, of all places, that charted plot and character elements in Agatha Christie novels. It’s pretty cool.

I’ve read quite a few of Christie’s novels, and while I’m not a huge fan of her work any more, there’s no denying that she had a huge influence on the development of the mystery genre. So it was interesting and fun to look at these charts and see what characteristics Christie gave her killers, broken down by age, gender, occupation, method, motivation, and relationship to the victim—and how these elements changed over Christie’s working life. (I tried to post some of the charts, but alas—Bloomberg didn’t use a format that I could reproduce.) Continue reading

Jilly: The Fine Art Of Story

The Fine Art of StoryEver since I read Kay’s fascinating post about Tim’s Vermeer, I’ve been thinking about art and artists, and what a rich source of inspiration they are for story-tellers.

Works of art are fabulous story fuel. It’s one of the few subjects where you could stretch your writer’s imagination to breaking point without ever threatening suspension of disbelief. Artworks can be distinctive and visual, enriching the plot as well as helping to move it along. They’re subject to the whims of fashion, passion, politics and expert opinion. They could be worth a fortune today and a pocketful of loose change tomorrow, or vice versa. They’re highly portable (for which read steal-able), and can disappear for years and reappear just as mysteriously. They’re susceptible to forgery, offering a wealth of opportunity for foul play Continue reading