New Junior Sherlockian Society Includes Derrick Belanger's 10 Rules for a Young Adult Writing a Pastiche!

Today is August 9th, the 221st day of the year!  To celebrate this singular day, the Beacon Society, a scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars which focuses on exemplary educational experiences that introduce children and young adults to Sherlock Holmes, proudly launches the Junior Sherlockian Society

The society invites children and youth to complete Junior Sherlockian Training- an in-depth study of Sherlock Holmes’s character traits, observational skills, capacity for critical thought, and inductive and deductive reasoning. During the online training, Sherlockians-in-Training complete the 2-2-1-b tasks to explore , experience , and extend their understanding and appreciation of the great detective.
Upon completion of the tasks and submission of “training evidence,” a certificate of completion is granted.

This is pretty much the Sherlockian equivalent of the Junior Ranger's program available through the American National Parks Service. All teachers who want to spread the joy of Sherlock Holmes to their students should read over the web site and encourage your students to participate!

The Beacon Society created the Junior Sherlockian Society to get more children and young adults interested in Sherlock Holmes

I had the good fortune of being asked by Shannon Carlisle, an extraordinary teacher and the Junior Sherlockian Committee Chair of the Beacon Society, to help in this endeavor.  One extension activity to become a Junior Sherlockian is to write a pastiche.  Ms. Carlisle pointed out that the current plethora of "rules on writing a pastiche" focus on adults writing pastiches, none has focused on young adults writing pastiches.  As a young adult author (The MacDougall Twins with Sherlock Holmes series) and middle school teacher, she asked me to be the one to rectify this problem.  Thus, the website includes my ten rules for a young adult to follow when writing a pastiche.  

Derrick's 10 Rules for a YA Writing a Pastiche

The rules are as follows:

 1. You are writing a mystery. Your story needs a full plot with a client bringing
Sherlock Holmes a problem to solve. You need to have clues along the way as
Holmes investigates. You need to have a resolution where Holmes solves the
mystery. You can’t do that in a few paragraphs. Take your time to tell your tale.

2. You need to read the original Sherlock Holmes stories. You can’t write a
pastiche if you don’t know who you are imitating. Pay attention to how Doyle
introduces Holmes, how the mystery begins, how his characters interact. Note
that Watson calls Sherlock Holmes by his last name,“Holmes” not “Sherlock”.
The closer you are to Doyle, the better.

3. Sherlock Holmes is The Great Detective. Sherlock Holmes is the world’s
greatest detective. You have to show the reader that Holmes is great, don’t just
tell us. Have Holmes look at a client and tell their life story simply from their
clothing. Have Holmes solve a mystery that does not seem solvable. Prove to
the reader that Holmes is the best.

The MacDougall Twins with Sherlock Holmes series is a YA series written by Derrick Belanger and illustrated by Brian Belanger

4. Dr. Watson is Holmes’s biographer. Almost all of Doyle’s stories are told by Dr.
Watson. It is through his eyes that we see Holmes at work; it is through his
ears that we hear the client’s story. While you don’t necessarily have to tell the
story from Watson’s point of view, he should, at the very least, be an important
part of your narrative.

5. The setting of your story is vitally important. Sherlock Holmes lives at 221b
Baker street with Dr. Watson. They reside in Victorian (late 19th Century)
London. Show us the setting. Have them dine at the Criterion, visit the Strand,
stroll through Westminster, hear the chimes of Big Ben. The more we are
immersed in the Victorian time period, the better.

6. Characters make the story fun. Part of the fun of reading Sherlock Holmes
stories is the rich, diverse characters. You have the Baker Street Irregulars, the
children who help gather information for Sherlock Holmes. You have the
landlady, Mrs. Hudson, who not only delivers tea to Holmes and Watson but
actually helps them catch a dangerous criminal in “The Empty House”. You
have Jabez Wilson, the pawn shop owner tricked into joining the Red Headed
League. These side characters are unique; they are memorable and make the
story more interesting to read.

Toby the dog and other animals from Pinchin Lane are some of the fun side characters in the MacDougall Twins series.

7. We learn much from dialogue in a Sherlock Holmes story. Use dialogue both to
move the plot forward and to let us get to know the personalities of the
characters. The client always tells Holmes the problem they need him to solve.
Holmes asks questions of the client and we learn about the mystery. We also
learn much about the client from how they approach Holmes. From her
dialogue, we learn that Mary Stoner is nervous and fearing for her life in “The
Speckled Band”. In “The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor,” we learn of Lord
St. Simon’s befuddlement at the disappearance of his fiance from his story.
Make sure we learn about the characters in your story from their dialogue.

8. Know your ending. You have created a client who has brought Holmes a
mystery to solve. You have to have Holmes solve the mystery to bring your
story to a conclusion, and the ending must be believable. I find that authors
who don’t know the ending to their story in advance tend to get lost in the plot
and often abandon their story. My advice is to know your ending before you
write your story. If you know how the story will end then you can set up the
clues along the way to help you reach your conclusion and make it satisfying to
your readers.

9. Know your Facts. Even though you are writing a fictional story, you still need
to do a lot of research. No one writing a pastiche today lived in Victorian
London. You need to make certain you don’t have Holmes chase a suspect
down a street that did not exist until 1921 or say a modern slang expression.
Holmes never said, “Yo, Watson, What up!” Get to know the history of Victorian
London. Know the fashion of the day (Watson would never wear jeans and a
t-shirt). Know the train routes. Use an etymology guide to make sure your
language matches the time period. Fortunately, you have the internet to help
you along the way.

10.Writing a Pastiche is Hard Work. Don’t be intimidated by writing a Sherlock
Holmes story. You will probably need to revise your story several times before
it is complete. Have your friends, a teacher, a sibling and/or a parent read your
drafts along the way. Have them tell you parts that they like and parts that
need improvement. Don’t be upset if they find a big mistake in your text. When
you make the correction, your story will be better. In the end, you want your
story to be the best Sherlock Holmes story it possibly can be.

The MacDougall Twins with Sherlock Holmes series is available on Amazon.

To visit the Junior Sherlockian Society and learn how to join, click here

For more on the Beacon Society click here.  

Belanger Books is a small press owned by artist Brian Belanger and author Derrick Belanger specializing in new Sherlock Holmes books, Children's books, Steampunk, and genre specific anthologies.  Some of our books have been #1 bestsellers in their categories on Amazon. 


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