Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Re-inventing a Legend

All right.  A conundrum, kiddos.  A head-scratcher.

Along comes someone who wants a character written who acts like Sherlock Holmes but isn't Sherlock Holmes.  Yep . . .  acts like Holmes but isn't Holmes?

What exactly does that mean?

Sir Conan Dole, a small time country physician who, to supplement his income as a practicing doctor out in the rustic rural countryside of England, decided to invent a detective of unusual eccentricities.  So unusual in fact that the character threatened (and eventually did) become better known than his creator!

Sherlock Holmes has become a legend.  An intellectual circus of deduction, acute observation, and reason which overwhelms the reader in his application of solving violent crimes.

And the guy has his peculiarities.  He's apparently a gifted violinist.  He's a casual abuser of drugs. And someone who mistrusts women.  His photogenic mind is so voluminous it actually pushes people away from him.  And let's face it; the guy is a bit of a snob.  He knows he's smart and he doesn't hesitate to let everyone around him know he knows he's smart.

A fascinating creature for a reader to discover.  One hundreds of writers have tried to mimic in one fashion or another.  None of them, in my opinion, coming close to the luster of the original.

So now someone wants a new, historical, Holmes-wannabe to be created.  As a writer you have to ask yourself . . . . where the hell do you begin?  What traits of Holmes do you keep and which ones do you throw away?  Just who, and what, makes a Holmes character . . .  act Sherlock Holmes?

Is it just the intellect of the man?  His eccentricities?  His constant companionship with a Dr. Watson around to recount all his cases? 

Hmmm . . . .

The request was make him a 1st Century Roman.  Place him in a specific historical setting and work from there.  Okay.  That's no problem.  But . . . historically speaking . . . are there any examples of anyone in that time frame who thought like a Holmes?  And the answer is . . . possibly.  Greek philosophers and scientists (yes, there were Greek scientists), soon followed by Roman equivalents, were becoming more and more inquisitive on the intellectual plain, establishing by the 1st Century C.E., a long history of scientific reasoning and philosophical inquiry a gifted intellect might be aware of.


Now, what kind of personality?  What's his familial background?  Where does he come from?   What are his eccentricities? (ever meet a genius who wasn't eccentric in some fashion?  Me neither)

So I have a character in mind.  Named him Decimus Octavius Virilis.  Ex-soldier.  Retired from the service with still all his limbs intact.  Distant cousin to Caesar Augustus.  Genius.  A character that is becoming more and more interesting the more I write about him.  Say . . . maybe I've got something here!

Read my previous blog.  Read the first chapter I've written.  See if you'll agree with me.

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