Monday, October 29, 2012

The Sherlock Holmes Writing Method with Guest Jason Black

What do we love about Sherlock Holmes? What distinguishes him from other sleuth protagonists?

Easy: his amazing powers of observation. The way nothing gets past him. The way he treats no details as meaningless, from the scuff of a shoe indicating a surreptitious midnight stroll across the moors, to the subtle asymmetry of a suspect’s gait indicating an old war wound.

Here’s the thing. Your readers are exactly like Sherlock Holmes. They miss nothing. Every detail matters.

If you’re a criminal, the very notion of trying to sneak something past Mr. Holmes should make you nervous. If you’re a writer building the very world into which your Holmesian reader will stroll, you should also be nervous.

But not too nervous. Because there are some guidelines you can use to help you create a world that will direct your reader’s investigation in exactly the way you’d like it to go.

Two kinds of detail

Your narrative will contain hundreds—if not thousands—of details. Readers will take some of them at face value. In other words, they’ll believe you just because you tell them. Others will raise readers’ skepticism—sending your readers on a mental process of correlation, fact-checking, and deduction—before they decide whether to believe you or not.

What will readers take at face value?

Broadly, readers will accept anything in your story’s world that is visible, no questions asked. Or audible, smellible, et cetera. Imagine your reader as a ghost in the scene, present for the action but not interacting with the characters. Or a fly on the wall, or whatever metaphor you like. 
Anything our ghost-fly reader could directly observe, that’s what readers will accept without question.

Note that point of view and narrative style play a role. Modern narrative deals rather commonly in inner monologue—the direct presentation of the viewpoint character’s thoughts—so I suppose we must imagine our ghost-fly to be a selectively psychic ghost-fly.

What will readers question?

Everything else. All other details—all other facts and miscellaneous information in your story—reside in the world of inference. The world of things that cannot be seen, but must be deduced.

If Sherlock Holmes walks into a pub and is told by the bartender that Mr. Farthington is as honest as the day is long, naturally he’ll be skeptical. People lie. Perhaps Mr. Farthington owes the bartender a sizeable tab, and if Mr. Farthington gets set up for murder, well, that’s fifty quid the bartender will never see in his coffers!

In this metaphor, your reader is Holmes, and you’re the bartender. If you flat out tell us of Mr. Farthington’s abiding honesty, we’re going to be skeptical.

The reason is because honesty--a quality of personality--is fundamentally not visible. We can’t see it directly. Mr. Farthington does not (unless you are writing a very uncommon genre indeed) go about his days with a glowing HONEST MAN sign floating above his head, placed there by the infallible hand of the Almighty.

No. Honesty isn’t like that. Being invisible, we must infer it from whatever we can see. For invisibles such as personality traits, moods, emotions, and other mental states, that’s usually behavior. We only know that Mr. Farthington is honest if we observe him behaving that way. Actions speak louder than words.

Who do readers trust?

If Holmes doesn’t trust the bartender, who does he trust? Almost no one. His skepticism is legendary. There is, in fact, only one person Sherlock Holmes trusts: Sherlock Holmes. He trusts only that which he can verify from the application of his considerable deductive powers to the direct evidence he has collected with his own senses.

So who do readers trust? Yeah, that’s right. Not you. You’re a writer. Worse, a novelist, a confabulator by your very definition! Readers will trust you to tell them the obviously visible sun is shining in your story, as long as the viewpoint supports the direct observation of that fact. For everything else, they’ll only trust their own deductions.

The important details are invisible.

The kicker is this: chances are, the critical details in your story are invisible ones. How does one character feel about another? Feelings aren’t directly visible. Who owes who money? Debts aren’t directly visible. Who was on the moor last Thursday night? The past is not directly visible. Why does Mr. Farthington so staunchly oppose the road the council wishes to build through the heath south of town? Who knows? Characters’ motivations are not directly visible.

Here’s irony for you: readers will never trust you about the very things your story is almost sure to hinge on. Alas, what’s a poor writer to do?

Treat your readers like Holmes

If readers won’t trust you about the important stuff, all you can do is exploit their trust in themselves. Treat them like Sherlock Holmes: Don’t ever tell the reader something invisible. 

Only give them the visible evidence for it.

Don’t tell us how honest Mr. Farthington is. Show him popping into the pub with a lost wallet, looking to return it to its owner. Don’t tell us he owes the barkeeper money. When the wallet’s grateful owner gives him a fiver as a reward, show him paying down part of his tab. Don’t tell us why the heath means so much to him. Show him carrying a bundle of yellow daisies into the heath, kneeling down, then returning slowly, several minutes later, without them.

(See what I did there? I didn’t tell you why he values the heath. But I’ll bet from imagining that tiny little vignette, you have a pretty good idea. You’re a reader too. And your deductive powers are every bit the equal of your readers’.)

Readers miss nothing. Every detail matters to them, as it well should. One thing you can count on is that readers will treat everything in your story as evidence for something left unsaid. If you tell us the sun is shining on the heath, we’ll immediately assume you want us to know that Mr. Farthington is going to come back hot and sweaty.

Your job is to know what you want readers to believe in the first place, then pick the visible details which constitute evidence for those critical, invisible things. Let the reader’s trust in their own deductions drive the believability of your entire story.


Jason Black is a freelance developmental editor, a.k.a. “book doctor,” who lives and works in the Seattle area. He is the author of several novels. His latest novel, Pebblehoof, is about a frontier girl, the wild prairie horse she befriends, and the troubles they have with the corrupt railroad barons who want to steal her family’s land. It is available in print, Kindle, and Nook editions at Learn more about Jason or read his blog at

Today Seekerville will be giving away one copy of  Write Tight: Say Exactly What You Mean with Precision and Power by William Brohaugh (Kindle Edition) to one writer and a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card to one reader. Winner's announced in the Weekend Edition.
Just share your comments on Jason's post and be sure we can contact you!

Saturday We Announce the Laptop Winner!


  1. Jason, I love this! You make it seem so simple.

  2. Show don't tell; it's elementary, my Dear Watson.

    I really should read a Sherlock Holmes story before I try to falsely quote it. I have plenty on my kindle and shelves to read, so that's not my excuse.

    must. add. hours. to. my. day.

  3. Hmmm that's an interesting way to think of readers, I never thought of myself as Sherlock Holmes before! Fun stuff, Jason!

    BTW anybody who loves Sherlock I highly recommend the CBS series Elementary and the BBC series Sherlock. Both of the series are very different but both are extremely clever with some great dialogue. :-)

  4. Welcome back to Seekerville, Jason.

    Jason was here for our party, last year.

    I love all forms of Sherlock and this is a wonderful methodology.

  5. Thank you Tina and Jason for a really interesting blog today. It's always good to see things you know from an a different angle.

  6. Thank you for the interesting post.

  7. Enjoyable post Jason. Thank you so much. It bears reading again later today to let things sink in.

    Thank you for the giveaways today Seekerville. Have a blessed day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  8. Jason, once again you took a concept that should be obvious, clearly IS NOT or we'd all get it right, and broke it down into step-by-step instructions that teach through example.

    Parabolically speaking, this works. What a great methodology!

    I find that I usually state the obvious on my first draft. On subsequent drafts, I delete the obvious "telling" and go to inference. It's tricky to do that on the first draft, at least for me. At that point, I'm just telling the story, scene to scene, moving along. On second draft I can plant those hints of longing or loss, plant seeds of doubt, erase long telling passages and use something simple (usually in dialogue) to replace it.

    But your gift is how you explain and teach. Bravo! Thank you so much for being here!

    And the new show "Elementary" is a fun take on Holmes. You have to fall in love with the scarred and flawed lead character and Lucy Liu is marvelous as Dr. Watson.

    (And moment of honesty, I had to ask who the cute Asian chick was. That is how far out of the normal stratosphere I live. Pathetic, really.)

    Jason, I brought coffee for you and the gang, and hot chocolate for Pepper and our other Blue Ridge buds who might be seeing copious amounts of snow today!!!! Pep!!! Wave to us and tell us you're okay!

    Also, food... Must have food. It's a rule. So, I had Panera come up with a breakfast buffet for us, their egg and bacon stuffed croissants, bagels, Ring Danish (oh, mylanta, delicious!) and an assortment of cream cheese toppings. But try those egg-mix stuffed croissants. I made them for a wedding shower, and everyone loved them.

    (and then we made a chicken wing version... even better, perfect party nibblers!)

  9. Hi Jason,

    I'm a teacher and 5 days a week I have to make things explicitly clear, or my students think I'm not a very good teacher. But I've found the best teachers are the ones who are descriptive, showing the content rather than just lecturing. You helped me make a connection today between writing and teaching -- thank you!

  10. Sometimes when reading a posting like this one, a piece of advice jumps out at me, and I have to copy and display it as a reminder. Today's is, "Don't ever tell the reader something invisible."

    That's now above my computer. Thanks. (Sherlock Holmes has long been a favorite.)

    Happy Birthday, Seekerville.

    Although I've been absent response-wise, I've been reading the postings in catch-up mode. It's been a grand party.


  11. Another one to print off for the binder. I love how you've shown the importance of 'the detail'. When well=done we only notice how we have trouble leaving story world behind!

    Thanks Jason -very helpful!

    Happy CRAZY WEEK, gang. In a storm that is 1000 miles wide, I expect a few of us will be losing power with winds, rains and snow. Storm surge is going to be the villain, don't you think?

  12. Living in Ga the storm has passed us and raging havoc off the upper coast this morning, I am concerned for all there, I hope many have left the area to seek safety. This will be a giant mess. God be with you.
    I enjoyed reading the post this morning from Jason and his references to Sherlock Holmes who everyone knows. Happy Monday to one and all as this Birthday month winds down but no less boisterous as when it began....
    Paula O

  13. Jason,

    This is an article I will print out for use.


  14. Hi Jason, Welcome back to Seekerville with such sage advice. Thank you. You've really cut to the chase and made the show don't tell thing so clear and concise.

    Have a great day.

  15. Thank you, Jason! Great tips to go by.
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  16. And just when I thought I understood "show, don't tell", Jason comes along to show me exactly what it means. Thank you! This post is definitely a printer-offer.

    I'm keeping all of you out east in my prayers, and hoping the weather channel is just going on hyperdrive again...

  17. Jason, I am struggling with this right now. Printing this out!

    I am in for the drawing!

  18. Fabulous, Jason. This was a great way of describing writing in an 'elementary' way.

    Thanks for the hot chocolate, Ruthy. I'll add some hot Welsh tea to the brew for those interested too.

    I'm waving. We only have cold rain here this morning, but the higher elevations are supposed to see some icier weather.

    (Renee, the BBC version is fantastic. CBS' version is funny too, but its hard pressed to compare to BBC ;-)

  19. Thanks so much for sharing, Jason.

    I checked out your blog and liked the post on editing also.

    So I've learned about Showing and editing this morning.

    Thanks again!

    Jackie L.

    please toss my name in the hat

  20. Thank you, Jason!

    Showing our readers what is going on (rather than telling) is important - and your visible/invisible approach is such a memorable way to look at our work. I've never thought about it that way. :)

  21. Excellent post, Jason. I will be following you.

  22. Jason,

    Love your humor, your teaching prowess... I'm agreeing with the early risers. Outstanding post today!!

    May and I will make sure to apply as best we can, and hopefully do this soon. A fan of book 1 made a point to ask about something that I didn't adequately finish. Which is fine. This is a series after all.

    But it underscored the importance of addressing it in Book 2 so I don't frustrate her. I'm excited to hear what she thinks to know if we succeeded.

    Thanks Seekerville! Happppyyyy birthhhhdayyyyyy, 2U!!! Would love to win the book. Thank you!

  23. Jason,
    Just popped over to your site.

    Here's a quote you share that HAD to be shared here, by one of my fave all-time ever authors:

    You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it's going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children.

    — Madeline L'Engle

    Looking forward to following you too! Most excellent info. Thank you again!

  24. Jason, welcome!! What a great post! It's something I've never thought of. And shows another reason to be sure to show and not tell.

    Those character actions are all-important!!

  25. Christina, I agree. It seems so simple. But it's not simple to do!

  26. Renee, thanks for telling us about the two series. I don't think I knew anything about them.

  27. Jan, I like the word you created: pinter-offer. :)

  28. What a great post, Jason. I've been working on the show-don't-tell aspect of my writing, especially as I revise my story.

    I loved the Sherlock Holmes analogy. The thought that you shared about readers not believing the intangible really brought home to me the importance of showing. It makes so much sense!

    I'm praying for those of you on the East Coast now.

  29. Since we're talking Sherlock Holmes, how closely do the Robert Downey Jr. movies stick to the actual book? Just wondering. :) Liked the movies, haven't read the book. Yet.

  30. i'm a reader here...and yes, please show me instead of telling me! Happy Birthday, Seekerville. i've been enjoying the posts...and congratulations to the winners

  31. Great post! One I'll add to my print outs.

  32. Love, love, love this post!

    My boss of 28 years has said before that my attention to detail was something that helped me tremendously in my job as a purchasing manager for an OEM company.

    In writing, I thought I had done a fairly good job, but I’ll just tell you flat out, Erin Smith, my editor on Claiming Mariah put me to shame (in a VERY GOOD WAY, mind you!) when she pulled out her magnifying glass. I was simply floored and so thankful for every little detail she pointed out that might trip the reader up.

    Btw, that is one scary fly: we must imagine our ghost-fly to be a selectively psychic ghost-fly.

  33. Once again, as displayed by the Mr. Farthington example. We must utilize our details to SHOW not TELL our character's personality trait.s

    And this is truly another reason not to TELL. No one believes you anyhow.

  34. Excellent post! I love how you "showed" all the reasons not to tell. It's so easy to fall into the telling trap, and I find myself having to go back in revisions to turn my tells into shows.

    Call me weird. Call me a writer. But, I love these types of discussions.

  35. Hello all,

    This was a very clear and straightforward way of talking about this very difficult subject. It is headed for the printer. Thank you Jason.

    Praying for all in the way of the storm,


  36. KC, that quote is worth sharing on FB. Headed over to do just that!

  37. This is a great article, Jason! And so true. How to SHOW and not TELL. It takes a lot of creativity on the writer's part.

  38. This is a wickedly cool article. I love it when someone holds up writing to a bright light and I get to see a new facet. :)

  39. What a great way of explaining "Show Don't Tell"! And here I thought it was a blog about mysteries!

    Thanks for the tips!

    Hope everyone is staying out of the way of the storm - cozy and dry! We are getting lots of rain and tonight it's supposed to be extremely windy.

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  40. Jeanne T - The Robert Downey movies are fun movies, lots of action and adventure, but they really aren't the Sherlock Holmes from Arthur Conan Doyle's stories.

    You have to read the originals :)

  41. Thank you, Jason! I love this:

    "Don’t ever tell the reader something invisible."
    You can't make it any easier to understand than that. I need to make that into a banner,lol.

    Your blog How to Write Creepy Characters was great. It's another "printer-offer." (great phrase, Jan)

  42. What a great post! I'm editing today and will look for this in my book. :-)

  43. Welcome back to Seekerville, Jason! I wish I were a sponge so I could soak up your terrific keeper post. Will print this reminder:
    "Your job is to know what you want readers to believe in the first place, then pick the visible details which constitute evidence for those critical, invisible things."


  44. Like everyone else said - so simple!

    And yet... so hard.

    I'm currently reading Becky Wade's My Stubborn Heart. I made an inference [and added her to my faves list ;)] when her hero thinks:

    It was on like Donkey Kong.

    I inferred he played a round or two [hundred] as a kid ;).

  45. This was really insightful and the examples helpful. This was a great post.

  46. Excellent instruction, Jason! Thanks for sharing your wisdom in Seekerville today. This post really clarifies both the technique and the rationale behind "show, don't tell."

    As for my favorite onscreen Sherlock, it is definitely the PBS Masterpiece Mystery version! I absolutely cannot stand Robert Downey Jr. in the role.

  47. HI Jason,
    Your post provides concrete examples that help me to see how this works. Thanks for that! Especially liked the discussion of visible vs invisible evidence. I'm a detail freak as a reader. As a writer, I have to keep note cards for each manuscript in order to keep everything straight! There's just a lot in 75,000 words!

    Keeping one eye on Sandy and praying for everyone's safety. Hard to imagine when today we have a crystal blue sky.

  48. Another helpful post to be printed out. Holmmes never missed seeing anything out of order. And to think our reader is that meticulous, too.
    I liked the illustration given between Sherlock's method of investigation and our storytelling. Understand more clearly the need to reveal character through deeds and not words. Thank you Jason and Tina.

  49. Awesome post. I'm a visual learner and this post helped so much. Thank you for clarifying " show don't tell" in such a " simple" way.

    The storm has forced a day off from work for me - on my birthday no less. Without Sandy, I'd be toiling away. Instead, my toddler is thrilled that mommy stayed home to play with him.

    Safe and sound thus far. Thank the Lord.

    Again, a perfect post for my notebook. Thanks!

  50. I suppose when I really think about it, I can see just what you mean. When I read a story, I try to do deduce what's coming up and how it will end. I do pretty good sometimes.

    Puts a new spin on show don't tell.

    Enjoyed the post, thanks so much.

    Tina P.

  51. Awesome post. I'm a visual learner and this post helped so much. Thank you for clarifying " show don't tell" in such a " simple" way.

    The storm has forced a day off from work for me - on my birthday no less. Without Sandy, I'd be toiling away. Instead, my toddler is thrilled that mommy stayed home to play with him.

    Safe and sound thus far. Thank the Lord.

    Again, a perfect post for my notebook. Thanks!

  52. One thing that is very annoying is red herrings in stories. Details that are shared but never utilized. This makes me MADDDDD!!!

  53. Best Sherlock?

    Jonny Lee Miller

    Benedict Cumberbatch

    Robert Downey Jr.,


  54. Tina,
    Benedict is FABULOUS! He voices a MEAN Smaug too, I understand :-)

  55. You know, I am rapidly becoming enamored of Jonny!

  56. Best Sherlock? Jeremy Brett, hands down.

  57. Wow - this is an amazing post. Definitely need this - so well-explained and clear. An all-time favorite post. Wow.

    REALLY want this book.

  58. Brilliant analogy! Love the idea of leaving bits of imagery as clues instead of the outright ideas you want readers to ferret out.

    I must say, I've never completed a Sherlock story, but love the movies and TV series' I've seen. My favorite cast of Dr. Watson is emphatically Martin Freeman. His Dr. Watson has a lethal edge that was believably developed and helped the story immensely. But I've yet to see Sherlock cast as I imagined him from Doyle's writings.

    I look forward to "planting evidence" in my story! Thank you for the wonderful tips, Jason!!

  59. I agree. The BBC Watson is the best. Wounded secondary character hero. Needs his own story. Don't you think?

  60. Jeremy Brett. Must go look this one up.

  61. A very creative way to express "show don't tell." And great timing, on the eve of NaNoWriMo. Shout out to Joanne Sher for pointing me to this blog, and thanks to Jason for his revealing treatise on the mystery of writing.

  62. Hello everyone! Sorry not to be able to come visit the comments sooner. I had a crazy morning, and--not kidding--an emergency rewrite to the ending of a novel I wrote six years ago.

    Let me read through the comments, and address any questions.

  63. Tina said: "The BBC Watson is the best. Wounded secondary character hero. Needs his own story."

    Completely agree! And overall, that's what really hooked me on the PBS series. Both Holmes's and Watson's characters seem so much deeper and more sympathetic than, for example, the Downey & Law movie versions.

    Although I'll take Jude Law's Watson any day over Downey's Sherlock.

  64. Jason, I think this blog was so well written we didn't have many questions. :)

    Here is one, make that two.
    Are you participating in Nano?
    Do you have any advice for others that are?

  65. WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, JASON, and what a GREAT post!!!

    Talk about "show, not tell" in its purest form and something so "elementary" that it's almost profound given all the times we overlook its importance.

    LOVE YOUR LINE: "So who do readers trust? Yeah, that’s right. Not you. You’re a writer. Worse, a novelist, a confabulator by your very definition!"

    LOL ... SOOOO true, and I think I need to print this baby off right now!!

    Thank you again for a very educational and fun blog!


    P.S. On a side note -- has anyone ever mentioned you look like Matt Lauer???

  66. Basil Rathbone is the best Sherlock. Everyone know that. My husband actually got some of the old movies, because he remembered how much he enjoyed them. Yeah Right. He set there with a glazed look on his face and shortly went to sleep.


    I don't even know it I watched him much. I like Robert Downey but then I haven't really watched the other actors mentioned. I must get out of my cave and check it out.

  67. Thanks for the giveaways today!
    Praying for those in the way of the storm. I'm in GA, and we just had a little wind.
    Jackie S.

  68. Donna: Yes, I am participating in NaNoWriMo. This will be my, uh, 8th year. This year I'm doing a middle grade book, about a beaver in Ontario trying to escape the clutches of the trapper who wants her unique black pelt. Yes, it's a talking animal story.

    Advice for NaNoers? Well, my best advice is to plan out your whole story in advance (sorry, pantsers!). That't the best way I know of to avoid writer's block. After all, NaNo is short enough already without writer's block making it even shorter for you.

    But as it's too close to November to fully plan something out now, my back-up advice is to cling fiercely to every single source of motivation you can find to keep you going. For me, the word count progress bars, the forums, and the friendly social competition of NaNo are enormously helpful. As are smaller things, like setting my page size in Word to match that of an actual kids book, and editing in two-page view so it's like I'm typing right into the book. Silly, maybe, but it helps keep me going!

    Julie: No, no one has ever mentioned that I look like Matt Lauer. :)

  69. You know what, Jules...he does look like a young Matt Lauer.

    So did you always meet your NaNo goals???

  70. How's that work from home gig word for a Daddy? Do you have a set schedule??

  71. I am a BBC Sherlock fan. Sorry Jonny. Love JLM but I've stopped watching. And now, darn it, I picture Mr. Knightley having tattoos under that fluffy white shirt and waistcoat...

    Can I butt in and ask a very off topic question?

    For LIH... should I make sure my heroine is primary pro tag rather than the hero? Hero seems to have taken over the synopsis.

  72. Jason, great post today! Must cut and paste and save!

    And then work your wisdom into my WIP!

    Thank you!

  73. "Let the reader’s trust in their own deductions drive the believability of your entire story."

    Amen! As a reader, that's the only way I engage in a story. If everything is explained for me -- if I'm given a map at the beginning -- I will never finish the book. I like the subtle, the nuances. And I particularly enjoy when a friend and I read the same story and find different aspects to it.

    Thanks for all the info in such an easily-understood post.

    Nancy C

    Thanks for

  74. Tina Radcliffe asks:
    So did you always meet your NaNo goals???

    Yes. So far, I have a perfect record of getting to my 50,000 words during November. So now, you know, the pressure's really on!

    Tina also asks:
    How's that work from home gig work for a Daddy? Do you have a set schedule??

    Alas, I still have a day job. Four days a week, I'm in the office. One day per week, I get to work from home. Usually I spend the morning of that day catching up on paperwork and e-mail, then spend the afternoon on client projects. It's hard once the kids get home from school and they want to visit. So together, we made a cardboard "mailbox" with a little flag that goes up and everything. So rather than bug me, they can put notes and drawings and whatever in the box. Then when I'm done for the day, we go through the contents of the mailbox together.

    Debra E. Marvin asks:

    For LIH... should I make sure my heroine is primary pro tag rather than the hero? Hero seems to have taken over the synopsis.

    Obviously, I don't know anything about your LIH (not even sure what that stands for), but my highly generalized advice is the primary protagonist should be whoever has the most at stake in the story. Whoever stands to lose the most, if the plot doesn't go their way, should be the primary protagonist. Now, if that makes the protagonist someone you feel readers will have trouble identifying with (male vs. female), then you may have some synopsis issues to work out.

  75. Thanks for this post, Jason--great tips and sage advice. Thanks so much for sharing with us (and now for some reason...I'm yearning to read a Sherlock Holmes book...LOL). Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo
    p.s. Please help yourself to a big helping of my warm Georgia Peach Pie--or if you prefer, Fudge Brownies made with Georgia pecans. Enjoy!;)

  76. I love this post today. Every time I come to Seekerville I am so thrilled with all the learning that takes place here. Love it.....


  77. Wow! Great blog today. Makes me want to run to WIP and read it as a Sherlock Holmes reader would. I do alot of telling so keeping this analogy in my head could be very helpful. Thank you so much for sharing.

    And FYI, LIH stands for Love Inspired Harlequin :) I saw your comment to Debra above.

  78. Thanks, Annie, for filling in the mystery acronym for me.

    And thanks again to Seekerville for having me. It has been fun. All the best to all of you in all your writings!

  79. Thanks to you, Jason. Here's to a great NaNo!!

  80. loved this posting ;)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  81. Jason, wonderful insight. The way you explained it makes perfect sense.

    Sherlock Holmes is the master of detail. And he exhibits incredible depth of perception. Thanks for giving Show, Don't Tell a whole new dimension.

  82. I'm so late to this party!!

    Love this and Pebblehoof sounds wonderful. We need mroe books like that...

  83. I've never heard it put this way before, but it makes sense. (I was going to say "elementary" but figured that pun was already used by this time of night.)

    Melissa, can't believe you've never read a Sherlock Holmes story.

  84. @Ruth- I just love Lucy as Watoson! I didn't think it would work to have a female Watson but I love their chemistry. It's so fun!

  85. @Pepper- I know! Benedict is my favorite. He had me after he shot the wall LOL. I also really like Molly in that series. I hope we see more of her in future seasons.

  86. @Missy - I believe both seasons of Sherlock (BBC) are on Netflix and are free on Amazon Prime so if you can you should give it a try. :-)

  87. I've never really watched Sherlock Holmes, but it was still interesting!

    I'm a reader!


  88. Loved this post! Regarding your description of details - "Others will raise readers’ skepticism—sending your readers on a mental process of correlation, fact-checking, and deduction—before they decide whether to believe you or not." - that described my thought process as a reader exactly! :)

    jswaks at gmail dot com

  89. I'm going to have to "show" and not just "tell" this to my younger sister --she's starting to write fanfiction, which I think is great for her to work on her creative writing skills.


  90. Jason seems to know his readers well!

  91. I love this post how interesting. The way it is put here it seems so simple. Thanks for sharing

  92. I love this post how interesting. The way it is put here it seems so simple. Thanks for sharing

  93. Hope I'm not too late for the drawing.

    I ditto all the commenters who raved about your post, Jason.

    And I like Ruth's strategy of telling during the first draft and converting to showing in revisions. I've gotten too bogged down in the niceties of writing to finish a complete draft of my novel.

    Maybe I can use the NaNo event as my deadline to finish the draft.

    P.S. Best Sherlock: Jeremy Brett, with Basil Rathbone a close second
    Best Watson: Martin Freeman, with Edward Hardwicke a close second. Nigel Bruce was very charming but too bumbling.

  94. I like this post, although I have to disagree with your first point. Maybe it's less disagreement and more refinement. Readers accept visible things for which they do not have conflicting knowledge.

    If a story is set in a city I know well and the author misplaces a landmark or creates a place of significance in the town that doesn't exist, that might pull me out of the story because I know better. If I'm a horse person (I'm not) and the author describes some piece of equipment or method for caring for horses in a way that I know to be inconsistent with reality, that would be implausible for me. Every reader brings a different body of knowledge and experience, which is why today, when readers are so literal, it can be tough to know which details to research and which to simply present. I believe authors hope readers will accept it all.

    Beyond that, I agree that readers take most visible things at face value, and overall, the Sherlock Holmes method holds up.

  95. This is a wonderful post Jason. You have an interesting take.
    I have read your book. It is full of great information.

  96. Great post! Thanks for sharing this information!