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Writing a Sherlock Holmes adaptation - Coming Up With the Details

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Old 10-22-2013, 11:28 AM
Angelus (Offline)
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Default Writing a Sherlock Holmes adaptation - Coming Up With the Details


Hey all! It's been a long time since I have posted on here.

I am currently working on a novel based on the Sherlock Holmes canon. The basic premise is the following: After Sherlock and Moriarty have their fateful confrontation in the Reichenbeich Falls ("The Final Problem"), a depressed Dr. John Watson returns back to England. On his return, he is brought in for questioning in the disappearance of Moriarty, who (in a slight change from the canon of the short stories), is still a well-respected academic in London, and is not yet known by law enforcement for the evil deeds he is responsible for.

To make a long story short, while Watson is in custody, he learns that he has suffered from both Paranoid Schizophrenia and Multiple Personality Disorder since his war injury during the Afghan campaign. Sherlock Holmes was an invention of his subconscious mind in order to cope with his PTSD, depression and idleness during his recovery. The mysteries he solved as a consulting detective to Scotland Yard and his various other clients did actually occur, but those parties believed Watson to be Holmes (Watson's written chronicles of Holmes' adventures had previously been written off as Holmes' attempts to sensationalize his own exploits).

The doctors and authorities believe that Watson / Holmes' antagonism with Moriarty was simply another paranoid delusion which led Watson's other personality to stalk and murder him out of fear. When this happened, the Sherlock personality "died" with Moriarty.

However, it soon becomes apparent that Moriarty did not actually die. In fact, he returns back to England with a plan that threatens to collapse the entire British empire. With "Holmes" out of the way, there is nobody who is able to outsmart him. Therefore, Watson is asked to try and "resurrect" Holmes in order to put a stop to Moriarty... a task which may be impossible to perform.

As you can see, I have a pretty good idea where I want the plot to go as far as the characters are concerned. My problem is the details of Moriarty's plot, and developing the clues that will eventually lead to solving the case. I am a very character-based author, but as I am new to the mystery genre I would definitely appreciate some pointers as to how to develop that portion of the story.


Last edited by Angelus; 10-22-2013 at 11:39 AM..
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Old 10-23-2013, 03:44 AM
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Every author I know approaches their stories differently but most other mystery authors do seem to plan meticulously.

I've never been published but I accomplish it by writing a skeleton/dirty draft of 40-50K first. That to me is my outline. I just write the story. Then I plan out the chapters and completely rewrite it. I find rewriting brings in clues/foreshadowing etc naturally because I know what is coming up.
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Old 10-23-2013, 04:56 PM
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I really don't have any advice to offer, but felt compelled to respond.

When I saw this thread and that you were "re-imagining Sherlock Holmes", I sighed. I admit I was a victim of my own prejudices and thought, "this is not gonna work", but as a fan of the great consulting detective I read anyway.

What you have here is Fightclub meets Holmes, and is a really cool concept. I wish you the best of luck on it.
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Old 10-25-2013, 08:33 AM
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Sounds interesting.

The best way to develop the mystery aspect is to read a lot of mystery. To write well in that genre, you really have to know the genre well; it relies on a lot of conventions that mystery aficionados enjoy and expect.
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Old 11-14-2013, 05:25 AM
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Here's an author who has done well with the Sherlock specialty.

She started with the idea of self-publishing, but got picked up by a publisher.

http://anneliewendeberg.com/
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Old 11-20-2013, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by risk10 View Post
When I saw this thread and that you were "re-imagining Sherlock Holmes", I sighed. I admit I was a victim of my own prejudices and thought, "this is not gonna work", but as a fan of the great consulting detective I read anyway.
I don't really have a problem with re-imaginings of public-domain stories on principle. I have entertained doing a few myself, especially when using old mythology (which tends to undergo lots of revisions over the ages anyway). That said, I prefer that these re-imaginings diverge from the source material enough to stand up on their own accord.
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Old 11-20-2013, 09:38 PM
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My issue was less with the re-imagining of public domain stories, more with, specifically, Sherlock Holmes. There are currently two televisions series and two movies that have "re-imagined" the consulting detective in the last 12-18 months. It is seemingly "overdone".

I do, however, concede that this is an original take on the Sherlock franchise, which I think is quite ingenious and would like to see something like this developed.
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