Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Holmes’ approach to the Science of Deduction – tips, clues and details to writing the deductive reasoning of Sherlock Holmes – A resource for Mystery Authors

While writing the Supernatural Case-Files of Sherlock Holmes, one of the most difficult facets was attempting to duplicate Holmes’ amazing powers of deduction with the same flavor and flare that Doyle did. 
How much can Holmes know from a murder scene?  How do we write a mystery with a character like Holmes in it, and still preserve any element of suspense for the reader?  What does Holmes know partway through any given story compared to what Watson knows, and is the reader somewhere between these two points, or somewhere entirely differently.
It’s a daunting task.
Grappling with these details, in addition to the expected and not-insignificant task of evoking Holmes, Watson, London and Doyle’s flare for the dramatic called for an enormous amount of research.  I usually spend as much time planning and outlining one of these stories (usually about twice the length of most of the original stories) as I do planning out my original full-length novels.
Not surprisingly, the best source for research was Doyle himself.  So what follows is the fruits of that research, namely, the details of every deduction: snipped out and categorized into sections (People, Letters, Ashes, Tracks, etc.) for easy reference, with the original references so you can find what story it came from.  I did this in story order, so the many deductions from ‘A Study in Scarlet’ head most of these lists. 
Also, this list is not complete.  I usually work on it every time I start a new Holmes story, and get yanked away as the task accomplishes its goal of giving the data I need.  Currently, I’ve culled all the way through to The Adventure of the Norwood Builder in The Return of Sherlock Holmes.  This is page 423 out of 987 in my version of the Canon, so only about halfway through.  Still, since it’s served its purpose for a number of times, I thought it might be useful to other pastichers wanting to inflict their narratives on the long-suffering public.   


1 comment:

  1. Hello, I check your new stuff regularly. Your story-telling style is witty, keep doing what you're doing!
    Review my weblog ; made a post