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Short Story Slump: Every Sherlock Needs a Watson

I’m still contemplating short story writing this month and this week’s entry is very simple because I’m nearing the finish line on my dissertation and my brain is possibly fried.  So here is my very simple idea to help you continue your path to short story awesomeness:

Get a Watson.

This is my friend’s dog Watson (also known as Wat-Wat). He would probably love to listen to you talk about your story, but I can’t vouch for the feedback.

Even if you haven’t read Sherlock Holmes stories or watched one of the many tv series, movies, or the latest (and my favorite) remake Sherlock, you know who Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are.  He’s the guy with the fancy pipe and the awesome hat and Watson is… well… he’s the dependable guy who Sherlock always has with him.  Right?

Especially after watching the latest BBC series, I have becomes a fan of Watson.  Sherlock dashes about in a flamboyant fashion and has mindblowingly brilliant ideas, but Watson is the one he talks to when he’s brewing those brilliant ideas.  He tells Watson things and somehow through their conversation (or Sherlock’s monologue in Watson’s direction) brilliance emerges.

So, let’s pretend in a happy magical hypothetical universe that you are an author with Sherlock’s brilliance and you are trying to figure out a story.  Try finding someone to talk to about it.  A writer’s group provides a whole collection of willing listeners to help you through your problems, but just one person can make a huge difference.

I’ve found that sometimes when I’m having difficulty with a story, it’s not that I don’t know what to do (okay, maybe I don’t know what to do because my fly-by-pants method is not always effective, let’s be honest), but that I need to talk my ideas out to see them clearly.  Listing them on paper doesn’t work because the paper doesn’t challenge me or ask me thought provoking questions.  I need a voice.

Here is a cafe in Valencia, Spain named after our favorite hero. He’s everywhere!

That’s where your Watson comes in.  Find someone who will question your ideas and offer suggestions when you’re in a muddle.  Lately, I’ve been working on continuing the plotline for my Holder Wars serial and there have been several snags (as well as giant labyrinthine mazes of difficulty that I don’t care to go into just now) that I didn’t see any way to sort.

So I talked them out with someone and slowly – magically – I began to see ways through my messy plotline.  Of course, it helps to write things down so you don’t forget them when the conversation is over…

Or you could just talk to Wat-Wat. He will listen adoringly to every. single. word.

Talking to someone doesn’t just give you someone else’s perspective and reactions to your ideas.  That’s all well and good, but bouncing ideas can also help feed your own imagination and draw out sneaky little bits of brilliance that just needed the extra nudge to bring them to the surface.  A comment or suggestion from your chosen Watson might not make its way into your story, but it may incite an idea in your own mind that grows into something you really, truly like.

At least, that’s what I’ve found to be the case.

So find a Watson.  Also, try not to beat an analogy into the ground as ruthlessly as I’ve done in the post.  It’s not healthy.

Sherlock – High functioning sociopath – Do your research

I know Sherlock Season 2 as been out for a while now, but I don’t have cable or a TV that hooks up to any stations.  I have to rely on Hulu to watch my TV shows or I simply wait for them on DVD, which I did for Sherlock Season 2.

It was well worth the wait.

If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan and you have not seen or heard of the BBC Sherlock, than you’ve been really off your game and you should feel ashamed (well not really); but you are missing out on something amazing.

Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat are the brilliant writers/creaters behind this modernization of everyone’s favorite detective. Cleverly, they have taken concepts and mannerisms of the original Holmes and asked the all important question: “What would that look like today?”

The Baker Street Regulars become the homeless network.

Dr. Watson’s journals are a blog, which coincidentally is also how Sherlock and John get clients, through their followers.

Holmes’s addiction to smoking is transformed to a strange addiction to nicotine patches: “It’s a three patch problem.”

“Breathing is boring”

Holmes uses technology in the most practical and effective way. Texting, messaging, video conferencing…

Even Sherlock and John’s unconventional friendship is put to the test of modern sensibilities, as how would such comradeship and loyalty be misconstrued by today’s society.  John feels the weight of such scrutiny the most but it never shakes his trust or friendship.

The visual effects are catchy and the camera angles work to showcase the brilliance of Sherlock’s deductive reasoning without being obvious.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have excellent stage presence and chemistry, making every scene catch the nuance of the characters. This is perhaps one of my favorite scenes…

The smirk!  As they both realized the absurdity of Sherlock sitting there wrapped in nothing but a sheet in Buckingham palace!

I could go on but then I’d give away details and spoil all the fun of you discovering them for yourself.

So…if you haven’t seen Sherlock…go and watch it.

And if you’d like share with us your favorite scene or character in Sherlock, comment!

How Do Writers Change Light Bulbs?

How exactly does a writer go about changing a light bulb?  Well, it is entirely dependent upon their genre:

Science Fiction Writers

First, the writer goes forward in time, to purchase the RC12A-4 lightbulb, which will not be invented until 2089.  Next, he travels back in time, to meet himself standing before the lamp in question.  One of him holds the lamp, while the other performs the actual changing of lightbulbs.  Unfortunately, the process causes a major time paradox, which in turn forces the lamp and writers to self-destruct.  The room implodes.  Fortunately, the writer and his future self exist together quite happily in a parallel universe, where lightbulbs never need changing.

Fantasy Writers 

It takes fantasy writers a VERY long time to change a light bulb.  First, they must locate a simple, orphaned farm boy with a heart of gold, and send a wise old man (really a wizard in disguise) to guide him in the first steps of his noble quest to change the lightbulb (a quest which is foretold in an ancient prophecy).  Living only on elf-bread, he must fight dragons and cavort with dwarfs as he travels on his amazing journey.  Just when hope seems lost, he will miraculously succeed and the light bulb will be changed.

 

History Writers 

After carefully perusing all the sources on the history of light bulb changing, they twist the facts to fit their particular pet theory on the subject, then footnote it until readers are lost in a sea of citations, with no choice but to give in to the historian’s version of truth.  The light bulb never actually gets changed, but the historian is too busy researching to notice.  This is okay, because the readers don’t usually notice either.

 

Mystery Writers

Mystery writers have perfected a simple enough technique:  they screw the new light bulb most of the way in, using conventional methods perfected by earlier authors, then give it a surprise twist at the end.

And the final Crazy Prayer Request for the LHP contest:

*I broke up with my boyfriend because he stole my car while on parole and now he won’t take my calls and I want to get back together with him.*