June 1, 2010

"I'm not psychic - just paying attention."

~Patrick Jane, 'The Mentalist'

My all-time favorite fictional character has to be the great Mr. Sherlock Holmes. That is probably the reason that I also love the show “The Mentalist”. For those of you who may not have seen it, the main character Patrick Jane is almost a modern counterpart of Mr. Holmes – only lacking the austere aloofness.

In the case of both characters, the thing that sets them apart and makes them the best at what they do is their ability to pick up on minute details and form accurate conclusions from them. The most surprising thing about their methods is that they work! Granted, in the case of Mr. Holmes we always get the explanation of how he knows what he knows, and we don’t often get all of that with Mr. Jane. But a person who is paying close attention can actually learn a lot about you just by noticing details.

With that in mind, I’m trying to work on putting good details in my writing – details that don’t just give the readers a vivid picture of the (character, building, etc.) but that make sense and actually help us learn more about them. And we all know how important that is to good writing, especially fiction.

I decided to experiment with it one day a couple of weeks ago. My mom had taken me to visit a newly-opened yarn shop in town. While we were inside, I decided to learn as much as I could about the shop’s owner without actually saying anything to her.

Here’s what I noticed:

1. She’s had a facelift – maybe two.

2. She tans and colors her hair.

3. She’s wearing a huge diamond wedding ring and diamond pendant.

4. The shop is brand-new, opened in February.

So now here’s a question for the Holmes and/or Jane fans reading this: What does her husband do for a living?

P.S. Yes, you can figure it out using only the details I gave you above. I did it, and I was actually correct! Can’t wait to hear what you come up with!


  1. Nice Mary! Let's see, they would have to have a good amount of money for all that...and not new money either. But I'm stumped. Obviously Mr Holmes hasn't rubbed off on me enough. :0)

  2. Hello Mary!
    Thank you for your lovely comment. :-) I was wondering who this "Mary Hawkins" was that was following me. ;-) I am glad that my feeble attempts to speak the thoughts from my heart are encouraging people!
    I like your blogs! Thank you for giving me the links. :-D

  3. Sherlock forever!

    I, uh, I'm not very observant. Is the February detail important?

  4. Laura: Welcome to the Lair!
    Lostariel: The February detail is important, not so much for the 'February' aspect of it but for the 'very recent' aspect of it.
    Keep thinking on it, guys. Just so you don't all go crazy on me, I'll reveal the answer on Saturday. ; )

  5. I'm thinking he must be a plastic surgeon...

    Thanks for following me. :)

  6. After further ponderings... he might be a jeweler. His record earnings from Valentine's day were enough to make the down payment on her book shop. :)

  7. You've stumped me. I'm not even going to guess. Well, alright. He's a jeweler. I say that with 10% confidence. Awaiting the real answer tomorrow.

  8. I KNOW! I KNOW!!! (And I haven't even read the newest post...) But only because I heard this story a while ago...
    DOCTOR. :P


What are your thoughts on this post? I'd love to hear your comments, questions, or ideas, even if you don't agree with me. Please be aware that I reserve the right to delete comments that are uncivil or vulgar, however.