If you ever want great writing advice and inspiration, you should look no further than the best-selling novelist of all time – Dame Agatha Christie.
This famous writer’s books have sold between 2 to 4 million copies worldwide. People loved her popular characters, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, in her many detective series.
So, how did this woman from a humble background become a notable name in writing and can you achieve the same writing goal?
Agatha Christie’s Life
Agatha Christie was born in Torquay, England on September 15, 1890, in an upper-middle class family. She was home-schooled by her mother and taught herself to read at five years old.
Her first writing The Mysterious Affair at Styles featured the now-famous detective Poirot and companion Captain Hastings, who Christie credited Sir Conan Arthur Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Watson for the inspiration.
In 1926, after publishing six books, she disappeared for ten days after a mental breakdown after her mother’s passing and finding out her husband was having an affair. She divorced him two years later.
Agatha remarried and traveled with her husband to the Middle East, and her writing reflected that in Murder in Mesopotamia and several others.
Appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her contribution to literature in 1971 and making her last public appearance on the opening night of the 1974 film version of “Murder on the Orient Express”, Dame Christie passed away peacefully on January 12, 1976.
Christie’s Advice on Writing
The “Queen of Crime” as she was called, once said, “the secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
So let’s get started!
Did you know that Agatha Christie had six consecutive rejections by various editors before The Mysterious Affair at Styles got published in 1920?
Just keep writing your stories. It’s easy to become depressed about rejection, but you can improve your writing and your odds with some great writing tips.
Observe and make notes
Pay attention to everything around you for it could become a plot or dialogue in your writing. Agatha Christie once got the idea for her book The Secret Adversary just from eavesdropping in a tea shop.
She once said, “I usually have about half a dozen notebooks on hand and I used to make notes in them of ideas that struck me, or about some poison or drug, or a clever little bit of swindling that I had read about in the paper”. It’s a good idea to write down anything you think of whenever you can otherwise it’ll be gone.
Develop around your plot
Pick a plotline and then build your characters and dialogue around it.
Christie often commented she wrote the murder or event first and then set the introduction, background, characters, and verdict around it. It’s okay to stray from the traditional “beginning, middle, and ending” style of writing.
Create memorable characters
Who can recall Hercule Poirot’s famous mustache, or elderly Miss Marple’s white hair and quiet disposition?
A friend of hers wanted to be in one of her books, but Agatha responded “I don’t think I could put you in. I can’t do anything with real people. I have to imagine them.”
Agatha got character creation ideas from the people she saw around her and give them to characters in her books. It made her characters more ‘real’ and be more relatable for her readers.
Keep your readers hooked
This seems like a no-brainer, but as a mystery writer, you need to hook your readers with the flow of your writing.
Christie often did this with only revealing a few clues at a time, making readers guess, creating plot twists by killing off characters, building up the climax and then a huge reveal at the end.
Christie wrote “Never tell all you know—not even to the person you know best,” The Secret Adversary.
Famous Writers Inspired by Agatha Christie
With such a famous name and over 75 books, I’d be surprised if no one were ever inspired by Dame Christie.
Some writers that have been inspired by her include:
Linda Stratmann: Author of the Frances Doughty series.
Graham Norton: The British chat host’s novel Holding pays homage to Christie’s writing.
David Lassman: He wrote the Regency Detective series.
Sue Grafton: Known for her alphabet series – A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, and so on.
Find Your Mystery Writing Style
Agatha once wrote “There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you’re writing, and aren’t writing particularly well”.
It may be a while to become a successful writer, but like Dame Christie, perseverance, patience, and planning can go a long way.
Just keep writing those stories.