The fidelity and innovation of transmedia storytelling: Sherlock

Written by Kepei Zhou

The narrative of novel is different from film, and television. The most important element in novel is characterization. The author unveils the personality of the character through characterization. The author straightforwardly lets readers know about the storytelling and the identity of the character, because the author can make use of different descriptive words to expose the disposition of the character and the storyline (Rafiq, 2016).

However, image is the most important element in film and television. While doing the transmedia storytelling from novel to film or television, the majority of characterization should be transferred into image.

While adapting a print text to film and television, directors may decide the degree and nature of how they use the original content of the text or play. They can choose to transfer them close to the original text, in order to create a highly literal reproduction of the text. On the contrary, they also can create a totally different version of the original text (Bluestone, 2003).

So, whether transmedia storytelling should always remain faithful?

I think the answer is NO. Tobias (2012) stated that when a book-to-film adaptation sets out to be faithful to the source material, the best result is a skillful abridgment. Because a book is a book, and a film should be a film, and whenever the latter merely sets about illustrating the former, it’s a failure of adaptation, to say nothing of imagination.


Therefore, the success of Sherlock is mainly owing to one reason. It is that Sherlock is not only faithful, but also innovative. It is well known, Sherlock adapts from the famous novel, so the series restore a great of plots and scenefrom the novel. But the series transfer the time background to the 21th century, so it contains many contemporary elements, and makes the storytelling become more different and attractive. Sherlock might imply that time is always changing and technology is always developing, but people’s wisdom is unchangeable.




Bluestone, G. (2003). Novels into film. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Rafiq, M. (2016). Definition & Elements of a Novel. Retrieved from:

Tobias, S. (2012). What makes a good book-to-film adaptation?. Retrieved from:


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