Wednesday, 18 May 2011


Regular readers may remember me foolishly committing myself to print by saying of this episode:

”Everything seemed built around her [the Tardis].”

Then later I read the Guardian’s Q+A with writer Neil Gaiman where someone asks…

”Was this the one great Who story you've always wanted to tell?”

…which would pretty much have been my question. Surely this was the Who story which had been buzzing around Gaiman’s cranium since he was a young fan. “When I become a big, famous writer I shall do a ’Doctor Who’ where the Tardis is a lady!” Why, you could see that all over this episode!

But he replies…

”The story actually came about backwards. It began with me wanting to do a story like THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME set in the TARDIS, with the Doctor being hunted. And then I thought, that's no fun, because he knows everything about the TARDIS. It's no contest. It would be more interesting to have a companion be hunted through the TARDIS...

And I thought, Or even have something malevolent possess the TARDIS. But if I did that, I'd need to put the TARDIS consciousness somewhere.

And then I had a story.”

I had pretty much considered the corridor-chasing to be tangential to the main story, in effect a ‘bubble universe’ of its own. (Though of course it added to the tension and was fun in its own right.) We could have had the whole ‘possessed Tardis’ thing without it, in fact Amy and Rory could have been completely cut out of the story… maybe on a second honeymoon somewhere… with little functional loss. We would still have gone outside the universe, met everyone and come home again. Yet, like someone building an extension then figuring they need a house to go with it, that was the bit which came first.

It’s bizarre to think how many times the spark for a story turns out to be a stray spark, outside the main body of the thing.


  1. So true. It's impossible to recognise good or bad ideas as good or bad until you see what grows from them.

  2. I don't think it's good or bad so much as connections. It's a bit like building up a jigsaw, you kind of build up a section with no idea where in the picture it goes, just that this bit goes with that bit. The first section you build can be quite incidental to the main picture.

    (Okay, with jigsaws you normally start with the edge!)

  3. Yes, there is a lot in this. I've had an idea for a novel floating around in my head for a year or so, and recently I sat down to start actually writing it. I was literally no more than a page in before I realised that my central idea -- the thing about it that excites and delights me -- is just not hefty enough to carry a novel alone. So I am now more or less resigned to waiting until a second idea strikes me -- one that I can collide with the first to produce a story with enough depth and weight. It's frustrating. Maybe I should stick to blogging and technical papers.

  4. It's sometimes hard to see what ideas are going to run without running them.

    Tho' I suppose (at least up till now) I've just written funny comics where it's inherently a bit like that. The early ones I would just line up running jokes on a theme. Figured they needed a bit more of a storyline after that.

    I've got books and books of random snippets roughly along the lines of "Doctor chased through Tardis". I am giving up on jigsaws and now about to make a most-sperm-die analogy...

  5. Gavin, where can I obtain these comics of yours?

  6. Well you can read some on-line here. (Mostly sample pages, but a couple of full strips.)

    If they appeal you can buy some from Smallzone and Top Shelf. Tell 'em I sent you!

  7. Wow, that is quite the range of styles and tones! Thanks for the link; having sampled the first row, I'll catch up on them all once I'm not straining to get a blog entry out. So far, Indifferent Bob is my favourite: I LOLled twice.

  8. Glad you like 'em! I work with different artists, which probably accounts for the different styles.

    Comics was for a long time my main thing. Lately it seems to have been supplanted by other stuff (not least of which is this blog). I'd like to get back on 'em again really...

  9. Comics were for a long time my main thing. (Hope my old English teacher ain't reading this!)

  10. Well, it would be fine to say "politics was my main thing", so I think you could wriggle out of it by claiming that you were using "comics" as a collective, singular, term to refer to the field of comics rather than a collection of individual comics.

    That would be my line of defence, anyway.

  11. Yeah, and my English is normally the bestest innit?