Descriptive Writing in Detective Mystery Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle


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Descriptive Writing in Detective Mystery Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle


The author is a man who brought detective stories into the world. The
word detective had not been made until three years before Arthur Conan
Doyle was born. Before Arthur Conan Doyle people used to read
criminals confessions. Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh on 22
May 1859. His parents were Charles Altamont and Mary Foley Doyle. He
was one of ten children and only seven of these survived. Charles
Altamont Doyle was a civil servant and Mary Doyle ran a boarding
house. In 1874 Arthur Conan Doyle passed his university matriculation
exam. During the summer of 1878 he worked as a doctor in general
practise. In 1879 Arthur Conan Doyle sold his first short story to
Chambers' journal. Arthur received his masters in Biology in 1881. In
1883, a short story entitled "Habakuk Jephson's statement" was
published. Arthur received a M.D in 1885. Arthur started to write
adventure stories to gain extra money. He became a doctor in 1887. His
first Sherlock Holmes book came out in 1887. The character was based
on Edgar Allan Poe's detective C. Auguste Dupin and Eugene Francois
Vidoq. By 1891 he had become a full time writer. In 1892 the first
collection of Sherlock Holmes stories where published. In 1917 the
last Sherlock Holmes story was published. By 1920 Arthur was one of
the highest paid writer in London. On July 7, 1930 Arthur Conan Doyle
died from heart disease.

Sherlock Holmes was not a real person but when Arthur Conan Doyle
wrote about him he based him on a man called Dr Joseph Bell. This man
shared many qualities with Sherlock Holmes. Although Sherlock Holmes
was based on a dear friend of Arthur Conan Doyle, the sidekick to
Sherlock Holmes Dr Watson was based on himself. 'The events in
question occurred in the early days of my association with Holmes,
when we were sharing rooms as bachelors in Backer Street." This quote
from The Speckled Band helps us to see that Arthur Conan Doyle, in the

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character of Dr Watson, is remembering how he lived with his friend.
(Look on Internet for the reasons for who the characters where based
on.)

When someone starts to write a detective story they have to decide
what the plot will be. They need to decide what the crime is going to
be. Both of the detective stories, which Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, had
the beginning of a crime at the start and then at the end of the story
had the solution. In the story the writer has to think how not to give
the plot away. In both of Arthur Conan Doyle's books there are clues
for the reader that mislead us and other clues which help us to find
out what the solution is. 'There is a trap-door at the back of that
building… which could tell some strange tales of what has passed
through it upon the moonless nights.' man with the twisted lip. This
quote makes us think that Neville St Clair was thrown into that trap
door; this is a misleading clue.

In all stories the writer must create tension to make people want to
read on. This is especially appropriate for a detective story. Of
course in a detective story there needs to be a victim of the crime as
well as the suspect. In Speckled Band the suspect is Dr Roylett and
the victims are Helen and Julia Stoner. In the Twisted the Lip the
suspect seems to be the tramp but at the end of the story we find out
that Neville St Clair is the suspect because he was the tramp, the
victim is Neville St Clair as well. To make the whole story complete
there needs to be the inspector and in this case it is Sherlock
Holmes.

The mood at the start of each story is different. The mood at the
start of the speckled Band is of people being scared, not knowing what
may happen, reflecting on what may happen if they do not get help. It
shows that something is going to happen and that the only way it will
be solved is for Sherlock Holmes to step in.

At the beginning of the story all the information about the case,
which Arthur Conan Doyle is writing about, tells us what is going to
happen in the story. This makes us become aware of what is going on
and try to predict what is going to happen in the story. When Arthur
Conan Doyle tells us about the crime, Dr Watson is telling Sherlock
Holmes of the crime. It makes us become a detective and look at each
clue carefully and think about what may be happening. This makes our
experience of reading the storey that much more exciting. At the start
of the story it is located in London whereas the story takes place in
the countryside. This gives us a sense of urgency because the
character Helen has to come into London early to see Sherlock Holmes.

The mood at the start of The Man with the twisted lip is more
mysterious and strange. This is because it all starts to take place in
the dark allies in the back streets of London. It tells us that if
something may happen it normally goes on with out anyone noticing. The
disappearance of a man would only be discovered if someone who cared
for them wanted to know. This person is his wife and the only way she
is going to find out where her husband is, is to get Sherlock Holmes
involved.

At the beginning of the story we are not told all the information for
the case as we were in the speckled band. We are told very little
about what is happening. Although we are told many clues which are not
needed in the story. I think that the beginning of the story does not
prepare us for what happens later on in the story. This is manly
because at the start of the story we are just led into the opium den
and not told what the actual crime is. I think that The Speckled Band
has a much better start to the story then The Man with the Twisted
Lip.

The setting at the beginning of the book is in London this is the same
setting throughout the story except when Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson
go into the countryside to see his wife.

Write about the different descriptions of London and the countryside
in each story. What atmosphere does Conan Doyle create through these
descriptions?

In the Man with the Twisted Lip the story is set in London, whereas in
the Speckled Band the story is mainly set in the countryside although
Helen does visit London to speak to Sherlock Holmes for the first
time. The crime takes place in London in The Man with Twisted Lip and
so Arthur Conan Doyle writes in a sinister way then the countryside,
whereas in the Speckled Band the crime takes place in the countryside
so Arthur Conan Doyle writes in a sinister way then London.

In the Man with the Twisted Lip the crime is set In Upper Swandom Lane
this is descried as 'a vile alley lurking, behind the high wharves
which line the north side of the river.' P53 This conveys that Swandom
Lane is not a pleasant place day or night. This helps us think of the
worse that may have happened to Neville St Clair. This adds a sense of
terror and dread. 'Lurking' conveys that the place is secretive. To
bring forward the atmosphere of dark and mysterious Arthur Conan Doyle
writes 'by a steep flight of steps leading down to a black gap like
the mouth of a cave,' this makes us think that if someone goes into
the cave they may never be seen again. This gives a sense of mystery
and intrigue about what may happen throughout the play. It starts to
bring us into the story.

The atmosphere is very different in both books at the start of the
story. In the Man with the twisted lip the story starts being very
mysterious and we do not know what the crime is going to be about. The
atmosphere is very confusing because we not know what is going to
happen throughout the story. In Speckled Band the atmosphere is more
tense and frightening. It starts of being like this and carries on
throughout the story also bringing out an added bonus of mystery with
the house and the characters.

When Sherlock Holmes start to begin to solve the mystery the sky
starts to become lighter and the atmosphere starts to get less
mysterious and more relaxed. Although in the Speckled Band the
atmosphere becomes more serious because Sherlock Holmes knows that
Helen is in grave danger of dieing like her sister did.

Write about how Conan Doyle uses light and dark, and sounds and
silence, in each story. What atmosphere does he create thought these
descriptions?

In "The Man with the Twisted Lip Arthur Conan Doyle uses a lot of
light and dark, sounds and silence in the way in which he writes his
story. Out of the black shadows there glimmered little red circles of
light as the burning poison waxed or waned in the bowels of the metal
pipes. This creates a mysterious atmosphere. This is because there is
no light and noise from drunken men. Then suddenly a glow of red lit
up the room. Different points in the room where people are sitting. It
makes it look unnatural in that room. The light comes from the opium
pipes. The shadow is from the smoke of the opium pipe. The waxed or
waned is the fire in the pipe having more or less oxygen from the
smoker. " The most lay silent, but some muttered to themselves, and
others talked together in a strange, low monotonous voice, their
conversation coming in gushes, and then suddenly tailing off to
silence..(p54) The room gets bursts of sound. It creates a frightening
almost threatening atmosphere. It sounds like a mad place where the
men know very little about what they are doing and saying. The sound
is very different from in the speckled band because Arthur Conan Doyle
says very little about sound and light in the Speckled Band he mostly
writes it in the Man with the twisted Lip. Of course there is some
suggestions of sound and light in the Speckled Band but there is also
not as much as the other books. Another example of light used in the
story is "In the dim light of the lamp I saw him sitting, there …
silent, motionless, with the light shining on his strong - set
aquiline features(p69) This shows how Sherlock Holmes thinks about his
case. The dim light shows that although he nearly knows what is
happening he is unsure of the actual story. He is unbothered by the
outside but is deep in his own thought. He has started to have
feelings of what is going on around him the atmosphere is tense
because everyone is anticipating Sherlock Holmes decision on what has
happened ion the case although Sherlock Holmes seems relaxed in his
smoke screen waiting to uncloud his memory. This is common with
Sherlock Holmes stories. For Sherlock Holmes to discover the solution
he covers himself in a smoke screen. He never tells anyone his
solution, he just shows that it is right. He is good at observing most
things that happen. About nine o'clock the light among the trees was
extinguished, and all was dark in the direction of the Manor House.'
This makes us think that something is going to happen soon because the
light of hope has gone out and all is left is darkness in the world.
It shows that the investigation is coming to a close that the light
has gone and all is left is darkness.

'-a very gentle , soothing sound, like that of a small kettle.' This
makes the Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson become aware of what was
happening. This was the beginning of a few minutes when they would
find out what had killed Helen's sister. This brings a lot of tension
into the story because this is what the whole story is based on.

Out of both stories I enjoyed 'The Man with Twisted Lip' better than
the 'Speckled Band' because it was more mysterious and you got to get
actually into the story. You had to start at the beginning when
Sherlock Holmes started and had to take all of the clues as and when
Sherlock Holmes did and you had to work out was going on at the same
time as Sherlock Holmes.


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