Monday, June 30, 2008

"The Game Is Afoot"

"Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!"

-Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Abbey Grange.

In the above, Conan Doyle evokes the image of a hunt, with the game moving around and ready to be stalked [for only a boor would attack a creature at rest]. Good writing, both in blogs and elsewhere, has an element of the hunt in it as well. We search our minds [and a thesaurus, when necessary] to add the correct word. We use a favorite search engine to gather the correct information. Why? Because we want to look good in our writing [and yes, there are some good reasons for this; If you are a money blog writer, you want your readers to think you know what you're talking about (especially if you want to sell them something). Even if you're a casual blogger, it's important to be accurate when you write. If you don't have the interest in what you're doing to do necessary research, why should I invest my time to read your blog?]

Case in point: when I was thinking about writing this post, I remembered [or thought I remembered] that Conan Doyle had written a Sherlock Holmes story with the phrase, "The game's afoot". But I wanted to note which story it was from. My first search was "the game's afoot". It gave me several interesting facts, including that Shakespeare had actually used it first in writing [Henry V, if you must know]. But I couldn't find which story it was from. I searched again, using the phrase, "Sherlock Holmes quotes". Success! The first site listed had the quote [corrected to have Holmes saying "The game is afoot"], which story it was from, even a link to the story itself, if I were interested.

Unless you have one of those legendary "photographic" memories it is exceedingly dangerous to depend on your remembrance of a particular quote or historical event. A mangled quote or incorrect date may not change the point of your posting. but it does make what you say subject to question. If the details are inaccurate, the thinking behind your words may seem faulty to a reader.

Of course, fiction writers can't research an event they're making up. Then again, well-researched details, worked into your writing, will make your post look more "real". So take the time. Do the work. Get the right information. And Dr. Watson says hello.
"Writing is hunting, and as humans we are born to it"
-"Grumpus", When Things Get Dark.
-Mike Riley

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