OK, I’ve finished hacking at Conan Doyle’s masterpiece! I’ve uploaded the result, which I edited with Word’s Track Changes turned on, if you care to have a read. (Study in Scarlet Chapter 1 edited)
So, what did I actually do? More or less what I decided last time:
- Shortened by about 200 words (roughly 10% before I started adding)
- Made it more Watson-centric, introducing him by name earlier on, elaborating on his time slumming about London, playing up his stated desire for peace and quiet just a little
- Streamlined the info dump at the beginning and much of the dialogue later
- Clarified a few things that may not make as much sense to modern or American audiences (such as the reference to Watson carrying a bull pup, what “Barts” is, etc)
- Tried to ratchet up the tension a little bit, make this Holmes fellow a little more questionable and menacing (as I suspect he might have been to more strait-laced audiences at the time)
At the same time, I kept the original flow of things intact and (except for adding contractions and otherwise smoothing some of the text) the pattern and style of the original language. One of the important things about the revising process that I’m trying to learn is how not to allow it to erase voice. It’s so easy to edit toward neutrality, and that’s something I’m trying to avoid.
Anyhow, I think I like the result. I’ll hasten to say that I don’t consider this “better” than the original. It sounds a bit more like me now but it’s still recognizably the original. Bearing in mind that it’s not intended as an improvement, what do you think — did I more or less accomplish my goals? Do those goals even make sense? I’m curious to hear what people think.
Also: did anyone else try this little exercise? Care to share the results? (I’m willing to host files)