The sound of silence…

…or how to describe without description.

Aspiring writers are told to “show not tell” – in other words, to allow the reader to do a little work in setting the scene for themselves. Don’t say “he was angry”, say “his face grew red as he pounded the table with his fists”.

Thomas Love Peacock satirised the over-telling in the stage directions provided for a fictional (doubly fictional, since the “author”, Scythrop, has never written it) play in Nightmare Abbey.

The princess is discovered hemming a set of shirts for the parson of the parish: they are to be marked with a large R. Enter to her the Great Mogul. A pause, during which they look at each other expressively. The princess changes colour several times. The Mogul takes snuff in great agitation. Several grains are heard to fall on the stage. His heart is seen to beat through his upper benjamin.

If you’ve never read the book, I strongly recommend it – it’s a lot of fun if you’re into the early 19th century (if you’re not, then you’ll find it boring).

But there is one genre where showing rather than telling is a must, and that’s a radio play. It is possible to cheat, and basically write a straight story, with actors reading out the parts in quotation marks, but the purest form of radio drama (in my opinion) has no narration, and all is explained through the dialogue.

I set out to do just that with a Sherlock Holmes adventure, and using the BBC radio drama template in Scrivener, produced the first draft of a thirty-minute (or so) drama in one day, and though I say it myself, I am rather pleased with it.

It was a real challenge at times to provide the settings and the explanations with no narrative, other than that provided in the dialogue:

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Bear in mind, if you would, that this is a draft – but I think this illustrates how I tried to set the scene with a minimum of description. A very interesting technical exercise, and even if it doesn’t get bought and produced by the BBC, I feel it has been worthwhile.

The Bloody Steps

BloodyfrontOn June 17, 1839, the body of Christina Collins, who had been raped and murdered by the crew of the canal barge on which she was travelling from Liverpool, was carried up “The Bloody Steps” in Rugeley, Staffordshire.
Several decades later, the famous consulting detective, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, was called to Rugeley to investigate the alleged sighting of Miss Collins’ ghost by the wife of the Rector of the local church. What he discovered was much darker and more sinister than any ghost.
BloodybackToday, June 17, 2019, being 180 years after the discovery of Collins’ body, the story of Sherlock Holmes’ Rugeley investigations is officially published and available for sale. The story has been edited by Hugh Ashton, widely regarded as one of the most accomplished narrators of the exploits of the celebrated sleuth.

Currentl;y available in paperback from Amazon or contact me for information about ordering a signed copy.

For more on the story of the Steps, see this page. It describes the murdered woman as already married and on her way to meet her husband, while I had always believed her to be meeting her intended husband. But of course, I may well be mistaken.

A Study of Fear

Yes, I’ve conflated the titles of two Sherlock Holmes novellas here (“conflated” – did I really write that word?).

I confess to not having read The Valley of Fear for a long time, and it’s been some time since I read A Study in Scarlet. There are some real similarities, though. Both involve a murder of a particularly unusual kind, and both involve a flashback sequence to an American past.

What is really striking about the central portion of both books is the attitude of Conan Doyle to American society.

Continue reading “A Study of Fear”

The Man who Would be Sherlock – Christopher Sandford – REVIEW

This is in some ways a strange book (click here for the Amazon page). Sandford explains at the beginning of the book that this is not a biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, nor is it a minute reexamination of the Edalji and Slater cases – the two criminal cases which Doyle regarded as miscarriages of justice and worked to right wrongs.

However, the book does go into some details of ACD’s life, and also provides a summary of both cases as it concentrates on the almost obsessive side of the man’s life which wished to see “fair play” in all things. Continue reading “The Man who Would be Sherlock – Christopher Sandford – REVIEW”

Christmas Gifts for Sherlock Holmes fans

Doctorfront.jpgMy wartime (that is, the Great War of 1914-1918) adventure of Sherlock Holmes, “The Adventure of the Deceased Doctor”, which first appeared in The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Part V, and was subsequently published in Notes on Some Singular Cases of Mr. Sherlock Holmes (j-views) is now available as a free download from here in both Kindle (MOBI) and iBooks, Kobo, Nook, etc. (EPUB) editions.

But wait, there’s more!

If you’ve already read, or bought this story, but are missing some of my other Sherlock Holmes adventures, from now to Christmas 2018, there’s a 25% discount on all my other Sherlock Holmes titles (excluding the box sets) bought through this site. I’m using PayPal as the payment method, and a service called SendOwl to ensure secure delivery of the books.

See them at:

Simply use the code SHER-UN-LOCK-2018 when you check out.

And please let me know if you encounter any problems with the purchasing or payment process. I will never take over from Amazon, but it’s very nice to be able to offer a small-scale alternative to the big boys, and I want it to work as well as possible.

If you’re not sure how to “sideload” an ebook onto your reader, click here for instructions.

(the original of the header image from Aussie~Mobs is to be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/hwmobs/16698026584/ and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 licence)

It’s new font time…

Anyone who knows anything about the booky side of me knows that I love fonts. I try not to be too gimmicky about them and I avoid a lot of the “script” and “brush” fonts, as I’m not really a graphic designer doing posters, but I do try to find a font for a book body that suits the content.

For example…

Continue reading “It’s new font time…”