Another four hours’ work on this writing exercise. I wrote the new stuff yesterday morning, so before I saw Deep Breath, and I’ve not re-read it since I’ve seen Peter Capaldi in the role (or the relaunched Clara). Feels a little like the home stretch now, which are always famous last words for a writing project. Now I’ve decided to complete the script, I’ve had to go back with an eye to giving it a proper story and set up a few twists and reveals better. There’s still quite a lot missing. The Daleks-as-Buddhists thing is a funny idea, but there’s meant to be something with bite behind it, and I need to get more of that across. If only to make it seem like something a Dalek would do, rather than a silly idea a writer had. There needs to be a better sense of what the human monks are doing, more of a sense of community. I realised that this story is yet another ‘Daleks pretending to be friendly / one Dalek on his own is OK’ variation on The Power of the Daleks, and that’s played out, now, so I’m trying to get across – and I’m not quite there yet – that it’s more like Bruce Banner, that it’s about keeping the lid on genuine anger and violence.
Reading it, I also started to wonder what would have happened if the Doctor hadn’t shown up. One of my golden rules when I’ve written Doctor Who is that I ask that question. What difference is the Doctor making? I’ve found that the stories that work are ones where the answer is ‘everything is different’. There are stories, particularly in some of the early EDAs, where the Doctor just kind of observes and doesn’t disrupt. Asking that question is really useful, because it crystallises what the stakes are, what the threat is. ‘If the Doctor hadn’t shown up, then … ‘ is a sentence that any Doctor Who writer should be able to complete very early in the plotting process, and which they need to keep in mind right to the end.
Not that there’s been a ‘plotting process’ here, as such. But it’s interesting: if the Doctor hadn’t shown up, perhaps ‘Gandalf’ (sorry, still using a placeholder name) and the Eternal Dalek would have reached a stable point, perhaps there would have been peace. Not going to happen, is it? The Daleks haven’t fired a shot, yet. You can’t have a Dalek story without at least something getting shot, can you?
And at some point I really need to time it, to make sure I can tell this story in the, er, 47 minutes. Does that sound about right?
I’m going to try to get this finished before the actual Dalek episode next week. So … yeah, more famous last words for a writing project.
Normal caveats apply: this is unfinished, it’s a writing exercise, so on and so on.