Saturday, February 11, 2017


After putting in a little time polishing the opening of my original-Canon shipping fic this morning, I just started musing on how much I like words. Sherlock Holmes is made of words.

Even in BBC's Sherlock, without the words, you've just got a silent movie featuring a couple of guys who don't even get to have accents. And as much as anyone wants to defend how utterly attractive the leads are, let's put them in front of a blank-slate test subject with no words . . . I have a feeling they're liable to start thinking of Greg Lestrade as the real lead of the show.

Words built Sherlock Holmes, words make us love Sherlock all the more, and words . . . .


Sorry for the caps there, but as I was gliding through my happy Saturday, relishing all the words, SOMEBODY . . . and I'm not going to name any names here, Howard . . . SOMEBODY laid the crudist of pastiche traps in my path on Twitter. Maybe I wasn't personally the intended target of that wicked, wicked snare for the curious, but it got me.

I had forgotten how low pastichery can go.

And how words can also create puppets of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, with someone's hand so visible behind the thin fabric of superficial detail that you want to staple-gun the pages together to imprison the words forever, like some dire beast of Lovecraftian myth. (Only then you remember that you just pulled in a sample chapter from Kindle and don't really want to destroy your phone.)

Trying to create new Watsonian writings is a steep ascent even for the best of writers. (Looking forward to Lyndsay Faye's The Whole Art of Detection with a mix of anticipation and fear, like she's jumping Snake River Canyon on a motorcycle.) For the rest of us? Best not to even go there. I've come to enjoy Sherlock fan fiction more than 95% of all pastiches, just because writers write in their own style and don't try to cookie-cutter words into Watson's . . . which was what I saw this afternoon.

Unless you're really going to get into the head of Victorian John Watson, and I mean really get into his head, like you actually think you're him and the words coming out of you are his words . . . well, it just comes out cookie-cutter, like you're forcing a shape onto the dough of words that it doesn't really want to take to.

Words are fabulous things. You can practically give a creation life like you're Dr. Frankenstein or the sorcerer's apprentice, or you can put on stale little stage-magic tricks that the audience has seen far too many times before. You can do whatever brings you joy.

Just be kind to those who might unwarily stumble upon your word creations, and don't leave them out in the public thoroughfares if they're smelly and leave stains.

Words can be hard to get out of our fabrics.

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