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28 October 2012 @ 09:32 am
Opinions Needed (And a Fic Preview too, I guess)  
Hello, f'listers! I'm working on a rather long Sherlock fic and I could use some opinions for one aspect of it. Excerpt and explanation below the cut, for length and to save anyone who might want to wait until the full fic is being posted (which, hopefully, will happen within, you know, the next few decades or so). I'm a bit stuck on the next part, so I'm trying to clean up what I have a little while I muddle out where to go next.

So the premise of the story is that Sherlock has been assaulted and has a severe brain injury, resulting in right side weakness and expressive aphasia (read: the inability to speak fluently and/or grammatically and/or find the appropriate words). Because I like to torture my characters like that. So, I'm trying to figure out how to show Sherlock's struggle to speak without it being annoying to read. In real life, expressive aphasics speak with a lot of hesitation and repetition and tend to 'um' and 'uh' a lot. So I want to show Sherlock doing that, but I also don't want the reader to lose interest with all the ellipses and uh and um. I think I'm happy with the way I have it now and it gives me a place to start off and slowly have him improve has the time goes on. So if you wouldn't mind reading a bit of it and letting me know if you think it's working or not, I would be very grateful.

This is a section from the first chapter--Sherlock is in hospital and the severity of his brain injuries are being determined. Not completely edited yet. Text is subject to change without notice. All rights reserved. Void where prohibited and in Quebec.

If you are bothered by the notion of something being unable to speak freely, this is your trigger warning.

Geordie took Sherlock through a few exercises with his hands and feet first. Sherlock's right side was slow to respond, but he got all the tasks completed eventually. There were some memory and decision making tests next. Sherlock did pretty well with those. Then they moved on to the speech tests, starting with repetition. Sherlock did about fifty-fifty on those, able to repeat some words and a few short phrases, but having trouble with longer sentences.

Geordie held up a pen next. “Do you know what this is?” he asked. Sherlock nodded, looking insulted. “Can you tell me?”

Sherlock frowned and concentrated. “Tr... uh... blue,” he said.

“Yes, the ink is blue,” Geordie said, in a praising tone of voice. “But what is the object itself called?”

“Pen,” Sherlock came up with, after several seconds of opening and closing his mouth and saying 'uh...'.

“Perfect, great,” Geordie said, making a note on his paper. “What do you do with a pen?”

“Words,” Sherlock said, making a writing movement. “And... um... maths and... and... and... pictures.”

“Great,” Geordie repeated. He made some more notes. John tried to read them, but they were too far away for him to do it without being obvious. Geordie touched his glasses next. “What about these?”

“Spectacles,” Sherlock said, without too much hesitation. “Broken... eyes... um... um... hear... no... uh... look.”

“Perfect,” Geordie said.

Sherlock rolled his eyes at John, who hid a smile.

Geordie pointed to John next. “Do you know who this is?” Sherlock nodded again. “Can you tell me his name?”

Sherlock looked over at John and opened his mouth. Nothing came out. He closed and opened it several times. “No, no,” he said. Or maybe 'know, know'. He looked annoyed and then a bit panicked and John really had to bite his tongue not to say his name for him. Sherlock looked back at Geordie and shook his head.

“That's all right,” Geordie soothed. “Can you tell me about him?”

Sherlock looked at John again. “Baker... Baker,” he said. “Baker.”

“That's our address,” John explained.

Geordie nodded, but put a finger to his lips and John clamped his mouth shut. “Tell me more, Sherlock,” he said. “What does he do?”

“Pills...” Sherlock said. “Pills... and... running... and... uh... war. Also... words... stories... not... pen... words... keys... words.” He made a motion of typing on a keyboard. John guessed he was trying to explain about the blog. “Words.”

“Great,” Geordie said. “Can you tell me anything else?”

“Women,” Sherlock said and John chuckled at the disgusted tone in his voice. “And... pub... also... uh... tea... tea and.... short...” John gave him a mock annoyed look at this and Sherlock grinned. “Me... follow...” he shook his head, as though disagreeing with himself. “No. No. Me...” he made an odd gesture John couldn't interpret, a sort of circular motion between the two of them. “Trouble... me... fix...”

“Do you want to write it?” Geordie asked.

Sherlock nodded, and snatched the pen as soon as it was close enough. He scribbled on a piece of paper Geordie set down, then pushed it back.

“He assists you with your work,” Geordie read, with a nod. “And what do you do for a living Sherlock? What does he assist you with?”

“Murder,” Sherlock answered, without hesitation.

John felt that interceding here was necessary. “Uh, he's a detective,” he explained. “We solve murders.”

“Oh, I see,” Geordie said, looking a bit relieved.

“No, no,” Sherlock said. Or again, maybe 'know, know'. He pointed to the paper and Geordie handed it back to him. He wrote on it again and pushed it toward John.

He picked it up and read it. The words 'John H. Watson' were printed in capital letters and underlined twice, as though Sherlock were trying to prove that he remembered it.

“Know,” Sherlock said, and John knew which word he meant this time. “Know... you.”
formerly lifeinsomniac: SherlockChaseScenejoonscribble on October 28th, 2012 01:54 pm (UTC)
Christ, that snippet made me tear up at the end.

Personally as a reader, I was fine with how you're showing Sherlock's inability to speak properly. More than fine actually. It actually flows quite well and I don't envision I'd have a problem reading long segments of it as is.

Hope that helps.

The Writer They Call Tay: Merlin: Thumbs up!awanderingbard on October 28th, 2012 02:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, good! That's exactly what I wanted to know. And, I realized out of context, it seems like Sherlock's injuries are worse than they are. It's not going to be pure angst, I promise. But I'm glad you enjoyed it! Hopefully I can muddle out the last bit. I hate plot. I mostly just like to stand there and go 'look, these people are talking! look at them talk! see how they're talking?'.

Thanks for responding!
donutsweeperdonutsweeper on October 28th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
Oh that's powerful. And not hard to read or annoying or anything. There's enough word stumbling to show what's going on, but not too much to make it annoying.
The Writer They Call Tay: SHERLOCK: Sherlock cameoawanderingbard on October 28th, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
That's great, thanks! I'm aiming for not annoying, so that's good. And that's sort of the worst he'll be, it gets better from there. I'm glad it's working.

Thanks for responding!
shadowfireflame: Sherlockshadowfireflame on December 12th, 2012 03:26 pm (UTC)
OMG, this is already incredible. Love when Sherlock said "Murder."

Ugh, I curse the fact that I'm American sometimes or I would be all over being a Britpick for you!!