I just finished reading an old Agatha Christie who-dun-it.
I spent the last few hours, after all the characters were clearly delineated of course, pointing my imaginary finger at almost each one going, “Yep! You’re the murderer. I’m so freaking sure of it!” Well, that’s until the next character made a seemingly suspicious move like twitching his eyebrow in a dubious manner or something equally innocuous. Then, of course, he was the one I held responsible.
Finally, when the real culprit was revealed, my reaction was an obvious, “Well, of course, I knew it’d be him. I’d already said so, hadn’t I?” (Well, who would have the temerity to gainsay me within the depths of my head?)
As a writer, I’m quite accustomed to looking at a person and providing him/her with a make-believe family, a rich history, a sorrowful tale or a fascinating superpower. The ability to imagine is a prerequisite for any writer. However, that can be quite the handicap when one is trying to solve another writer’s murder mystery.
I was so busy providing each character with a backstory and a reason for him/her to commit the murder, that I missed the opportunity to grasp the writer’s point of view. This was her world – a world and its inhabitants that she moulded amidst the chaos of hundreds of other ideas clamoring for attention. My preconceived notions and I were hindering her characters from doing what they were created to do – captivate and entertain. It didn’t take me long to see that I did that in real life too – letting my imagination run amok about people and incidents instead of grasping the Creator’s point of view about His people and His schemes.
Sigh! You live and learn, I guess! Anyway, I’ll be starting a new who-dun-it soon. I wonder if all this soul searching will help me enjoy my next book all the more or hinder my reading process.
(Never claimed to be an ace illustrator!)
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