Saturday, March 19, 2011

Writing Child!Sherlock

A few days ago, I wrote three installments for AMM that glimpsed into Sherlock Holmes’s childhood.  It was a lot of fun—not only to get those glimpses but also to break the stereotypes.

There seems to be a general stereotype for writing children in general, and another stereotype for writing child!Sherlock.  The general stereotype is that all young children must either be brats or angels.  The Sherlockian stereotype is that Sherlock must have had an angsty/abusive/negligent childhood to have turned out the way he did.


Um, NO.

Before anybody gets all defensive, let me explain.  I agree completely that the average child is bratty, and I also believe that it’s due very much to how they’re raised.  We’ve all a tendency to be bratty, but if we know we’re going to get in trouble for it, well… we have a little less inclination for it.  But while a fictional bratty child is, sadly, realistic, a fictional non-bratty child is also realistic.  Not an angel, mind you—no child is that—but sweet, obedient children do exist.

And, though we can all agree that Sherlock could probably be quite the pain in his younger years, I think there’s a fair possibility that he could also be a sweetheart.

As to the stereotype for childhood!fics… I’m almost willing to say that Sherlock having an abusive-or-what-have-you childhood is unrealistic.  It’s certainly not probable, nor is it canonical.  No, he never breathes a word of his parents, but just from the fact that we see his brother and not his parents in the Canon, we can safely deduce that Mr. and Mrs. Holmes are dead.  If so, the introversive Sherlock probably doesn’t like discussing them—even good memories can be painful.

In my personal canon, the Holmes parents are murdered by a fire.  The ensuing case, with a 19-yr-old private consulting detective on the job, is not a pleasant one by any means.  Is it any wonder that he wouldn’t want to talk about his parents?

Sherlock could well have had a happy childhood with loving parents, and still have turned out the way he did merely because he’s so intelligent.  The way we’re raised plays a large part in our personalities, but on the other hand, we make our own choices.  As we grow from childhood to adulthood, we make choices about what we believe, who we are, what we’ll do… and we change.

As I said before, writing these three childhood stories was a lot of fun.  I was a bit apprehensive about how my parents would like them when they read them, but I needn’t have worried!  My dad said that the stories blew him away—talk about something guaranteed to brighten your day!  He loved it that I could write such stories and draw inspiration from my experience as the firstborn in a large family with several brothers.  ;D

My mom’s response was even more memorable: she was reading the stories last night, and I went to bed before she was finished.  Well, a few minutes later, she came into my room—figuring that I’d still be awake, and I was—and told me that she loved the longest of the three, involving Sherlock’s mother.  I was thrilled.  The situation definitely called for a hug.  It was a beautiful way to end my day.

I plan on writing more childhood scenes for At the Mercy of the Mind when I get the inspiration, and I hope you’ll enjoy this much lighter look at the youth of the Great Detective.  The three aforementioned stories won’t be uploaded for a couple of weeks yet to keep with the order of the prompts, but they all should be up by Easter!

Allow me to give you, fair reader, a challenge: write a child!Sherlock fic that’s fluffy, upload it, and link me to it!  The world needs more of such lighthearted stories.

At the Mercy of the Mind status: 35 out of 100 complete.


  1. I agree, the whole 'abusive childhood' thing just doesn't seem right to me. Yeah, it could have happened and yes it does lead to some more interesting backgrounds, but why couldn't Holmes had just a happy childhood?
    In fact, it seems much more likely that he had a happy childhood. At least in my book it does.

    Hm, a Child!Sherlock story.. I will have to try it.
    Looking forward to those stories!

  2. I agree, as well, with what you and Spoky said about the abusive childhood. It doesn't fit. If he were abused, then would it seem more probable that he shied completly away from men/women in general? For instance, would he be working so much around men (Lesrtade, Bradstreet, Watson) if his father had abused him?

    Hmm, Child!Holmes... I think I can work with that, but it will be posted on FFN. Is that ok?