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.”