SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

From draft to draft--A Study in Sherlock

Discussion started on

I was just tweeting about this, then I thought--hey, why not post about it in case there are some other fans of BBC's Sherlock series?

I've been tackling an old manuscript lately--it's five years old and I loved it back then, but it didn't sell.  I didn't look at it for quite some time (years) and now I can see it a bit more clearly--the flaws stand out.  Basically, I'm sort of a bare-bones person, much more likely to underwrite everything, so my manuscripts come up on the short side and too terse.  I can see this one needs developing.  There's some good stuff here and there--I just need to fill in some big blanks between.

On a completely different note, I'm just in love with BBC's Sherlock series.  When I saw there was an unaired pilot on YouTube, of course I watched.  This is the hour-long pilot episode, as it was filmed first.  Basically, it's almost the same as the first episode everybody saw on the air, but shorter and there's a slight difference in resolution with the bad guy.  It's good, but . . . then they were approved for more money and more time (an hour and a half, instead of an hour) and WHOA--in my opinion, with the second version (the first episode everyone saw) they blew it out of the water, they knocked it out of the park, and any other cliched phrases you can think up to mean it was awesome!

Better costumes, better sets, a slightly punchier script (all while adding MORE--they added in another small subplot), better lighting, better music, snappier pacing.  The only thing that really stays the same is the cast (only a couple of very small parts got re-cast).  But even the actors give better performances the second time around--a line that was played straight the first time around gets played for slight humor the second time, etc.  Their characterizations are stronger, too--it's like they said THIS IS WHO THIS PERSON IS and really went for it to a larger degree.

In other words, the show is richer in every way.

This is something I've been thinking about a lot as I revise my old ms.  From the details I use in the setting to the dialogue to the "surprises" in the scene--is this as good as I can get it?  Do I need a pause here or a snappier beat or to cut these lines that have always bothered me a little?  Gosh, I'm having a blast this time around.  Yes, it's slow and a little frustrating at times, but it's FUN.

Anyway, I thought this might interest some of you.  Here's a sample (VERY short) scene from the two--  The person who posted it just squished the old version and new version in one 45 second video.

If you're interested in watching the whole unaired pilot, it IS on YouTube (probably illegally, sorry--I wonder if it can be found on the DVD sets?) and the actual first episode as it really aired is available through Netflix.
#1 - June 05, 2012, 12:33 PM

Another huge fan of the BBC Sherlock series here. Can't recommend it enough! Thanks for sharing the link, Jaina.

Btw, I don't think your thoughts about polishing MSs as you grow as a writer and how the Sherlock series has evolved are at all unrelated! It's interesting to read about, and think about, the comparisons.
#2 - June 05, 2012, 12:45 PM


This is excellent! I'm a huge fan of the Sherlock series and now I need to find more about the unaired pilot.

I remember having similar thoughts about the Buffy unaired pilot. The lines and plot were the same. The only different actor was Willow. Basically, it was all there, but without that richness and polishing that eventually came with its final "draft."

Thanks for the new perspective on revision!
#3 - June 05, 2012, 12:48 PM


0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.