Rachel’s BLOG #4

Uncle John’s Writing Guidelines

Rachel Holmes

Always, always remember who the author is. Your voice is the most important one in the story.

I have had a talk with my Uncle John about writing. After all, he has just finished publishing Papa’s latest adventure for the Strand. I was home for the weekend and we had just sat down to one of Mrs. Hudson’s delicious afternoon teas.

“Uncle John, I have taken to writing a Blog. Have you read it?”

“Yes, especially when I’m missing your presence, Miss Rachel.”

I said, “Doing this is not as easy as I once thought. Sometimes I am a reporter, others are like writing letters to a friend. But the more I write, the less I seem to know about it. Do you have rules you adhere to in your writing? Papa, please pass the sandwiches? Thank you.”

“Not rules exactly, more like guidelines, Miss Rachel. There are deadlines, of course, but when involved in the creative aspects of life one must be free to act, to follow where the muse leads.”

Papa passed the plate to me and said, “Muse, Watson? A flatfooted man of science pursuing an ephemeral spirit? Surely, your imagination is affecting your judgment, my friend.”

“Well, of course, for me, Holmes, the muse is flesh and blood, and sometimes I even live with him.”

Papa laughed and thumped Uncle John on the back. Then he sampled Mrs. Hudson’s strawberry tarts.

Uncle John’s Guidelines:

  1. It is not easy to express the inexpressible.
  2. Always, always remember who the author is. Your voice is the most important one in the story.
  3. Write characters you know. Names can always be changed.
  4. Take copious notes and keep your memory sharp.
  5. Know your environment. If it’s new to you, go there, and get to know it.
  6. Develop a group of central characters who become better known with each story.
  7. Know your villains as well as your heroes. This is not easy and sometimes distasteful, but a shallow, undeveloped villain stands out like a hacked off thumb.
  8. Each character must speak their own way. If they all sound like you, it is better to write an essay.
  9. Beware of your tenses. Only use the ones you know well. If you wander off into the unknown, you may get lost.
  10. Do wander off into the unknown where your story is concerned.
  11. Learn as much as you can about the times you are writing about, and the environment your characters live in and let this influence your story.
  12. Do not listen to critics. If I paid attention to your father’s comments about my writing, A Study in Scarlet would have been my first and last story.
  13. A good editor is worth far more than gold.
  14. Always carry a pencil, a notebook, and a firearm.
  15. Eat well, exercise well, and take walks in nature.
  16. Develop good friends and remember your family.
  17. Take days off.

Gretchen Altabef is an Award-Winning author who emulates Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories for MX Publishing. From a woman’s point of view and the history Conan Doyle left out. She also publishes with Belanger Books, Mondadori, and Mystery MagazineThe first, These Scattered Houses, is in Holmes’ own voice, and resourcefully chronicles the conclusion of his underground years. This is where the Rachel Holmes Series begins. The second in the series is, Remarkable Power of Stimulus. After 3 years away, Holmes finds London awash in murders, No. 221B under siege, anarchists threatening Paris, and the return of Irene Adler. Fully aware he is under surveillance by Moriarty’s henchmen, Holmes steps out of the cab into Baker Street knowing he will find Watson’s friendship and unerring aim are as dependable as the British Rail. Ms. Altabef’s most recent novel, THE KEYS OF DEATH is the genesis story of the world’s most famous address, and the young occupants of No. 221B Baker Street.

Gretchen is currently tucked away in her writer’s cabin with a goodly stock of Earl Grey and delicious concoctions from Mrs. Hudson’s Garden. Where she is diligently at work on the third Rachel Holmes novel. Rachel Holmes now has her own BLOG, where she will keep you apprized of her world during the book’s progress.

Do you enjoy my stories? Are there ways they could have been improved? Please help me and future readers of my books by posting a review on Amazon. Doing so would be incredibly helpful. Thanks in advance, Gretchen.

2 thoughts on “Rachel’s BLOG #4”

    1. Thank you for your comment. Please be aware the time I am writing about is the 19th-Century when the suffragist movement was in it’s heyday. I happily believe you are right. Many of these gentlemen put their beliefs to the test by joining the suffragists and the present day feminists. For example, while Mrs. Pankhurst was fighting for equality in London, her husband, raised their children in Manchester. You will find, in my novels, that circumstances cause Sherlock Holmes to face his own beliefs about intelligent women, and it changes him. All the best.


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