Monthly Archives: February 2012

Watson, We Need You

The Hollywood Reporter says that the world’s greatest consulting detective is getting yet another resurrection. This time with a twist.

CBS’ Sherlock Holmes pilot, ELEMENTARY, will feature Sherlock Holmes’ famed sidekick, Watson, as played by Lucy Liu. 

Lucy Liu, from Ally McBeal to Kill Bill, to Charlie's Angels, to ... Sherlock Holmes? The dame's afoot.

Described as a modern take on the cases of Sherlock Holmes, with the detective now living in New York City, DEXTER killer Jonny Lee Miller has been tapped to star in the project, says The Reporter.

Holmes remains a Brit, although Watson will be an American (a surgeon, still) and the stories will be set in New York.

Question: Is this a brilliant new twist that will breath life into a too-well-mined story? Or will Mr. Miller and Ms. Liu be updating their resumes by Thanksgiving. Thoughts?

Stealing From Writers? I’m In Favor Of It

I was sitting in a doctor’s waiting room with a paperback book of short stories.

Unlike the other patients, I wasn’t reading (I’d read it cover to cover). I was counting the number of words on an average line (11), then the average lines on a page (36).

Guy cleared his throat. “Dude? Can I ask what you’re doing, man?”

“Sure. Counting words.”

He was quiet for a while. “Can I ask why?”

The answer was: I enjoyed the book a lot. And although it isn’t my usual genre, I’d like to try my hand at it. Which means I need a template: In order to establish my pacing, and to figure out when I introduce  characters and primary settings.

In short: I was planning to steal from the book.

These writers had done a terrific job and if I wanted to try their genre, I needed to know what a terrific job looked like. So I could emulate it.

Is that plagiarism? Big shrug from me. Call it what you want. It’s something I tell writing students all the time: If you find a writer, or a genre, that you really love, buy a cheap copy of the right book, break it apart, write in the margins, use highlighters and scribbles on the cover. Do whatever you have to do, to understand why the book appealed to you. Then try to replicate it.

Stealing, schmealing. You gotta start somewhere.

Deft Writing a la Spain

Some writers can capture the nuance of a character with the deft sweep of a master fencer. Arturo Pérez-Reverta is such a writer.

In THE NAUTICAL CHART, Pérez-Reverta tells the story of Coy, a sailor without a ship, a shore-bound man who gets caught up in a mystery beyond his ken, while forced by a maritime accident to spend his days on dry land, which is terra incognita to him.

Pérez-Reverta (with assistance by English translator Margaret Sayers Peden) described Coy as walking distractedly around Barcelona without any goals or plans, as making “minute by minute comparisons between the gyroscopic and magnetic compasses; or, to put it another way, to verify a false north by means of another north that itself was not true.”



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