Who Owns Your Little Gray Cells? — Brenda J. Wood

Agatha Christie wrote 80 crime novels, many collections of stories, 19 plays and six novels under a pseudonym. Her books are only outsold by the Bible and Shakespeare. By any standards, she is a successful writer so maybe we can learn a thing or two from her. 

poirotWhile many readers love Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, Agatha herself did not always let him rule, even though her little Belgian detective with the fancy moustaches and egg-shaped head became more popular than Sherlock Holmes.  http://www.worlds-best-detective-crime-and-murder-mystery-books.com/hercule-poirot.html

Poirot starred in several of her books and she admitted that he did his stuff alright, but she kept thinking about how much better the books would have been without him. Scandalous! (I can hear her agent screaming about lost royalties right now!)  Anyway, when she adapted the books for the stage, she often tossed Poirot out on his ear. (I expect he was screaming right along with that agent.)

However, Ms. Christie certainly knew who was boss. She continually worked to better her writing and if somebody had to go, she threw them out with nary a second thought. She listened to her own self and did not let the almighty dollar or an imaginary character rule her writing. She refused to let her integrity suffer. She controlled her own ‘little gray cells’ as Hercule himself would say.

Do we dare to do that? Sometimes our ‘novel’ people squiggle into our head and take over. They demand certain rights (or writes!) and whether sub-consciously or not, we hand the plot over to them.  Let us not forget that we are the boss of our own ‘little gray cells’ or at least we should be.

Search your rejected scripts, pick one and let’s revive it for market. Take your time. 

  1. Which manuscript am I willing to investigate in this way?
  2. What would happen if I listened to my heart and used my own little gray cells on it?
  3. Am I writing in a certain genre just because it’s what I’ve always done?
  4. Would this book be better off as a play? Is it really only a short story or a poem?
  5. Am I unreasonably attached to any one character? Why do I feel this way about him/her? (Take your time on this one! The truth lies here.)
  6. What if I changed a male character to female? (Or vice-versa?)
  7. What would happen if I took a particular character out?
  8. Is it time to kill off a character? http://www.charlottedillon.com/CharacterChart.html
  9. What if I placed the action in a country club instead of a farmer’s field?
  10. What if I rethought the entire premise and changed season, the weather or the country?
  11. What if I wrote in the third person instead?

If all else fails and your little gray cells refuse to co-operate and your hero or heroine refuses revision and demands the spotlight in spite of common sense, go on strike till the character gets the message. Take a break and don’t write another word for at least two weeks. That’ll teach them! Maybe.


BrendaJWoodBrenda J Wood


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1 comment

  1. Henrietta Frankensee says:

    ONLY a short story or poem? Alice Monroe might object to that statement.

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