Sherlock Holmes: “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” (2)

Summary: Sherlock and Watson look around the house. As usual, Watson sees nothing, but Sherlock figures it out, tells Watson they must stay in the room overnight and that it could be very dangerous, but he doesn’t tell him what to expect. Then, a little after midnight, a snake slithers in. Sherlock drives it back the way it came, and it kills Dr. Grimesby (the bad guy).

Reaction: Very exciting! I love how Sherlock quizzes Watson on what he observes from whatever it is they are studying. Watson always says he doesn’t see anything, and Sherlock tells him he sees everything but doesn’t deduce anything. I love that language. We all literally see the same things, but what we bring from the experience is different for each person. I also like how, when Watson does try to deduce something, Sherlock is always, “Yes, that’s right. But you don’t deduce anything that is actually important.” He’s so nice to Watson, though. He comes off so much harsher in any adaptations I’ve ever seen, except maybe The Great Mouse Detective.

Sherlock Rating: Excellent! A real crime, a real adventure, and real punishment for the villain. Though I’m wondering about how these bad guys either get away or die rather than get locked up most of the time. The police are pretty all-around useless.

Mystery Story Convention: Another stakeout, this one much more dangerous. It’s kind of funny that Sherlock never tells the people with him what they are actually watching for.

Sherlock Holmes: “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” (1)

Summary: One early morning a woman asks Sherlock to help figure out what killed her sister 2 years ago because the same thing seems to be happening to her. She lives penned in by her step-father who loves India and hanging out with gypsies. Her sister died right before her wedding, and now this woman is engaged. After Sherlock and Watson agree to help and the woman leaves, her scary step-father comes to threaten Sherlock not to get involved.

Reaction: So my dad has definitely read me this one, and I remember what the speckled band is (because it is scary). But I want to read it in context, and I don’t remember all the details, so it will still be good, plus this one is looking really exciting (which is probably why my dad read me this one).

Sherlock Rating: Looking to be excellent. Keep it up Watson and Sherlock!

Mystery Story Convention: Young woman in distress. Another woman coming begging to the detective trying to get help with some dreadful mystery.

Sherlock Holmes: “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”

Summary: Sherlock is asked to discover the identity of the man who had lost his hat and goose in a scuffle. At first it was just general curiosity, but when the goose is discovered to have a rare stolen diamond stuffed down its throat a real mystery needs solving. He finally tracks down the culprit after following the trail of the goose seller. The man had never committed a crime before and was very scared and repentant, so Sherlock lets him run away.

Reaction: Sherlock really isn’t into seeing justice served–except for his own sense of justice. And Watson really likes titles with color words in them. Classic quote of this story: “The game is up!”

Sherlock Rating: Average. I’ve stopped expecting fancy arrests and all that, but this had a crime and the crime was solved. It wasn’t the most exciting, but it wasn’t boring either.

Mystery Story Convention: Stolen item hidden in a strange place, not easily retrievable. This is pretty common. I think there was an episode of Monk I saw where a diamond ring was hidden in the bride’s bouquet.

Pantsing It: Day 1

I read a lot of writers’ blogs, and I find almost overwhelmingly that everyone tends to just write out their book as it comes, no outlines, no nothing, sometimes called “Pantsing It.”

I am not one of those writers. For my last book, in the prewriting stage (yes, I had a prewriting stage) I sketched out various plot ideas in whatever order they came and placed them in order with notes in a Word document. Then, as I prepared to actually start writing I made a shorter outline of all the scenes in the first part to keep with me because I write out my books in notebooks for the first draft. (I feel that I my brain thinks and writes better with a pen than through typing). I have a pocket-sized notebook that I write various ideas in, and previous to each scene I will sketch out various turning points I want to hit, unless it’s a major scene I already have clearly visualized. Once I finish the first section, I plan out the second section (middle), then do the end. It’s an adaptation of the process I learned in my screenwriting course in college that was based on the book/seminar series Story by Robert McKee.

It may sound overwhelming and very anal/controlling, especially to anyone on the other side of the spectrum, but it works for me. It worked really well for my last book, actually, which I have officially (in my eyes) finished and have decided is ready for submission. Really, really well. I wrote it without burning out with pretty much unflagging passion throughout the entirety of my designated writing time (my lunch break) and before school, from beginning to end. I only burned out when it came time to edit it, which was good for it and me because we got to take a step away from each other for a while (4+ months). And I love that book, and I think that it is actually publishable.

Yet…

I have three ideas for new books right now, and the one at the forefront I’ve written some notes for and know some of what I’d like to research for it, and I know a few plot points, but one day at lunch last week I sat down and decided that I just wanted to write a scene. I wasn’t sure if it would even be in the book or not, but I wrote it, and it was fun. The next day I sat down and wrote another scene, and this one probably should be in the book, but it’s not the opening.

For some reason, this time I feel like approaching my book a little differently–or a lot differently. I feel like just writing it for a while and seeing where it goes. I think I’ll just write whatever scene I feel most like doing and worry about the placement and everything else later. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep this up or why I feel like straying from a formula that’s worked so well in the past, but it’s happening. Maybe it’s been so long since I’ve done real writing (opposed to editing) that I’m just dying to work that part of my brain.

Whatever the reason, I thought it would be fun to approach this scientifically. I’ll track my progress in the pantsing department and journal about it here from time to time. I’d like to see how it goes, what works for me and what doesn’t. When/if I feel the need to go back to my plotting/outlining former ways and why. A fairly unscientific science experiment, if you will.

So this will be the official “Day 1” (though technically I started a few days ago). I’ll aim for my next update to be on Friday. (Oh, and no Sherlock today–I never got around to reading my story because of the holiday and everything, but I’ll pick that up again tomorrow). Hope it’s been a great holiday for everyone fortunate to get the day off. It’s been my first official day off since the new year, so it’s been nice for me. Have a great week everyone!

Workout Playlist: 5/27-6/2

This week poses some challenges. I have been training for the Redlegs Run 10k, which is on the 2nd, and that has been going fine. I can run more than I’ve ever been able to, though it’d be nice if I could work up a little more speed at some point. I’m not sure when I’ll get my workouts in this week, though. This is the plan I’d like to follow:

Mon: workout playlist (same as past 2 weeks)

Tues: run after work

Wed: run after work (there’s no kettle bell class this week 😦 )

Thurs: workout playlist–arms and abs; mostly rest legs

Fri: rest and hydrate for race

Sat: run and have fun

Unfortunately some conflicts have come up. With Monday as Memorial Day I get the day off, but I’m not sure what I’ll be up to, so I and my roommate will be off our routines. Then Tuesday a birthday party/dinner has come up in the evening that could conflict with running. Thursday I probably won’t get to the playlist because I have a picnic right after work and then have to go back to work because I want to watch our kindergarten graduation, and who knows how long that will last. So I’ll do what I can. Wednesday seems okay at least, and maybe I can get some running in today or something.

Here’s the playlist I’d like to do on Thursday:

  1. Machine gun punches–“If You Think This Song Is About You…” D.R.U.G.S.
  2. Plank–“Race You to the Bottom” New Medicine
  3. Bi/Tricep curls–“My Best Theory” Jimmy Eat World
  4. Sit-ups: forward & sides (obliques)–“Greed” Patrick Stump
  5. Machine gun/push-ups–“Satellite” Rise Against
  6. Leg lifts–“Miss Murder” AFI
  7. Windmills w/weights*–“You’re Crashing but You’re No Wave” Fallout Boy
  8. Plank–“State of the Union” Rise Against
  9. Machine gun punches–“Na na na…” My Chemical Romance
  10. Cool Down–“Swing Life Away” Rise Against

*The Windmills are a kettle bell move, but I think they’ll work with regular weights–spread legs a little wider than shoulder width and turn one foot out and stand so that it is lined up with the middle of the forward facing foot. Face front. Hold weight up with arm above forward-facing foot and hold other weight down in front of sideways leg. Bend at the hip so abs/hips are working but legs stay fairly still, down arm moves down in front of leg and raised arm stays up. Do for 30 seconds then switch sides.

It’d be nice if I got to all this, but if I don’t, I don’t. Here’s to a great week!

War and Peace Saturday: Chapters 120-126

We depart momentarily from the politics and see the Rostovs preparing for a big ball that the Emperor will be at. It is Natasha’s first ball, and after a shaky start she makes a wonderful impression on everyone, especially Andrew, who almost convinces himself to marry her and loves that she’s unique, simple, and genuinely happy and enthusiastic and not fake like everyone else seems to be. I wonder if he does end up marrying her if he will still adore her or if he will see her as too simple and stupid–not “deep” enough to be worth his time and start to hate her as he did his first wife?

After the ball it’s back to business, but Andrew sees that he doesn’t really fit in with the people manipulating the national policies and decides that real business is useless and it should be his job to find joy for himself. He decides to take his son’s education back under his control. Hopefully he will not have the iron fist about it his father has.

Then we start to see Berg trying to make his way up the social ladder with his wife Vera Rostov. These two don’t seem to get along at all and throw a boring party (“exactly the same as everyone else”). Pierre attends and is his usual dim but endearing self.

I’m kind of missing the war. Now that I got to see some action all this social time/politics is not as entertaining as it had started to be. I think part of the reason is that I feel like Tolstoy is basically telling us through his narration and the key characters’ attitudes that all the details behind who in society is doing what and what reforms are going on and how they come into affect aren’t important, so I find myself skimming through paragraphs to get to the parts that actually are important.