Today’s good read is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet. This was the first story featuring Sherlock Holmes, published in 1887 it was, like all great fiction, a pioneering concept and contributed to a new and developing genre, detective fiction. In Sherlock Holmes we have a character who is both perennially enigmatic and yet personal to millions of readers across the world.
I read this book in the 1980s and so, like the other English archetypal hero who is prone to reinvention Dr Who, I will always have as ‘my’ Sherlock Holmes, Jeremy Brett from the 1980s Granada television adaptation.
What relevance does this have for writing?
As research for my first attempt at a book I read as much Victorian adventure stories as I could find, my book was set at that time. Although I had a great time reading Jules Verne and HG Wells the result was much of my writing style was quite formal and archaic. In short, I had unconsciously absorbed too much of my research as I had not yet developed a distinctive voice of my own.
Now, when I write I ask myself this question, am I copying someone else’s style?