The First Draft Blues

sherlock_holmes_02I learned a great deal from working on the Sherlock Holmes project. Murder at Sorrow’s Crown is proving to be a more challenging experience than I anticipated and remain forever grateful that I am doing this with a partner, Steven Savile. One, it means I’m not going through this alone, and two, I have someone to backstop me when I go off the rails.

First of all, as I wrote about recently, there was all the research and no matter how much I did, there was always something else. Holmes goes to a gentlemen’s club in disguise but what exactly was served for meals at those clubs? When did Scotland Yard start using telephones? Where exactly does one go to evaluate a gemstone? More and more research and yes, I admit to getting lost in the fascinating world of days gone by.

Then there was the plot which continued to evolve and refine itself but still was maddeningly short. We added a twist and I still managed to complete a draft of 54,000 words, far shy of the total word count expected by Titan Books. I spent a few days this week reviewing and managed to add about 1400 more words and, somewhat exasperated, tossed it across the pond to Steve. He can now review, regret ever agreeing to this collaboration, and try to find ways to expand the scenes, conversations, and general detecting.

As it stands, I found the Sherlock Holmes parts very difficult. His keen observations challenged me as I tried to find ways for him to be terribly clever without repeating myself or imitating Doyle (or Moffat or others toiling in similar worlds). Finding Doyle’s authorial voice and trying to match it, without relying on modern storytelling techniques, was also an interesting exercise and I may have done better there. I haven’t heard back from Steve, nor do I expect to for a little while.

We did, finally, receive our contracts this week so can confirm that Titan currently expects to release this book here and abroad in November 2015. The good news is that they actually gave us an additional month for the wordsmithing. As it stands, the earliest I anticipate being summoned back to 221B Baker Street for more work is October. Between now and then, it’s all Steve’s.

Normally, I have some sense if I wrote is any good or close to the mark and just needs a good editor. This time, every aspect of the book has proven not what I expected so have no real feel for how my portion will be received. Stay tuned.

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