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.


About Melissa

generally in love with things Celtic, mythological, fantastic, sharp and pointy, cute and fuzzy, intellectual, snarky, cheerful, or some combination thereof. Such things as sarcastic bunnies wielding claymores might come to mind...

Posted on July 18, 2012, in Authors, Characters, Humor, Inspiration, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Melissa Rogers, Plot, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This was a great post! Now I want to grab my dog for bed, where she’s undoubtedly enjoying all the space for herself, and explain what’s going on in my little brain.

    I truly think that most of the time, Watson’s brilliance is that he’s a sounding board. Of course, he can offer insights and has an uncanny ability to use the right turn of phrase that sets Sherlock off on the hunt but there’s something magical about having an objective listener.

    I also think it’s important to have a Moriarty- someone who’s as clever as me, always thinking one step ahead and is constantly challenging me. How do I know what my best really is until I’ve been pushed past what I thought were my limits?

    Thanks for making me think about my own creative (and non-creative, problem solving) methods. I’ve got the itch to get back to some serious work on my book!

    The game’s afoot, Watson!

  1. Pingback: Officially done | Deb E

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