In Which We Reveal That Novels Are, Actually, Formulaic

December 29th, 2005 · 4 Comments
by Booksquare

As it turns out, the secret to Agatha Christie’s success was not compelling mystery nor enduring characters. This is good news for you — what made Christie’s work unputdownable* was her hypnotic writing style. Yes, the mother was hypnotized all those years. Somehow this puts a pall on our small childhood victories: did we argue persuasively or was she in Christie’s thrall?

According to a study, Christie uses literary techniques mirroring those employed by hypnotherapists and psychologists, which have a mesmeric effect on readers. It could mean the structure of her novels creates physiochemical responses which cause people to seek them out again and again.

The proper mathematical formula for success is currently being developed by experts. We sit here hopeful that said experts have some background in this sort of thing. It would be just our luck to end up with a literary quadratic equation, only to discover that one cannot solve for U. Of course, we are not entirely convinced that any equation is fully solvable. All those variables seem sketchy, if you ask us.

* – According the husband, this word is not in the OED, thereby convincing him that it was possibly made up. While this shouldn’t affect you in day-to-day life, use with caution during dinner parties with your intellectual elite friends.

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