INKSPILL – Writing Doctor Who – Guest Writer William Gallagher

Standard

ticket 2014

©2014 Lee Allen Photography

©2014 Lee Allen Photography

Writing Doctor Who

Do be careful what you wish for: it can be bloody hard work. I write Doctor Who radio dramas for Big Finish and you cant just swan in and cook this stuff up. Doctor Who has to be inside you: I dont believe you can write for a show or a book range or a magazine if you dont already read it and love it. Plus, the producers at Big Finish do know and love Doctor Who, you have to step up to their level in the quality of your writing and its not easy.

Still, I hope that I will continue to write them forever. That is partly because I was a Doctor Who fan growing up and it never leaves you, especially not when the TV show is back and is capable of such great drama but also because it is radio drama and also because it stretches me tremendously.

Whatever type of writing you do, have a think about radio drama. I dont mean that you should definitely take it up, Ive got enough competition without you coming along and blowing me out of the water, but think about the form. I love radio drama because I feel its very intimate and personal, plus it is life-support dependent upon dialogue.

I am a dialogue man. Ive a friend who insists dialogue is the nice tasty little extra that you add at the end of a story and Im surprised were still friends. If I dont believe what your characters are saying, I dont believe them and I dont care about them. Let them be exterminated, so what?

Radio focuses you on dialogue like nothing else. Its exciting creating an entire new world, both metaphorically in your writing and pretty literally in that this is Doctor Who and youre making up a planet. But you have to convey that its, I dont know, a desert planet with oases of Apple Stores and a great big, green, smelly monster. You could have the Doctor step out of the TARDIS and say Oh, its Theta Beta Five, the famous desert planet – oh, no! A Smellosaurus! Quick, lets buy an iPad.

But nobody would be listening any more.

Ive tried recently to explain why I love scriptwriting above all things and at first I thought it came down to this. You have to conjure characters, a story, a world and all the drama using only what people say. (Plus a few sound effects. Do listen to a Big Finish Doctor Who some time: the sound design is simply a marvel.)

But actually, Ive come to realise that its much harder than that. And much more satisfying.

You cant say its a desert planet. You cant have villains saying what their dastardly plan is.

Russell T Davies, who with Julie Gardner brought Doctor Who back to TV in 2005, wrote once about a huge problem he had when moving on from writing soaps to writing drama. Im paraphrasing but broadly what he said was: In soaps, everybody says what they mean. In drama, they dont even know what they mean.

Thats a Damascus-level thought for me. I love and adore scriptwriting not because youre telling stories using only what people say, youre telling them only using what people do not.

Try it. Write me a scene with two characters and only dialogue, no settings, no description. One character wants something from the other and for some reason, that you have to think of he or she cannot tell that other person.

William

awf-2014 whirl

Doctor Who Radio Dramas and other books by William Gallagher on Amazon

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

5 responses »

  1. Be careful what you wish for indeed, I am currently living the writing life I wished – however, I am learning how much hard work is involved in commissions, the need to prioritise writing above other things (especially when deadlines loom) and how sometimes I can’t support others in events as I am already booked or busy myself.

    I still suggest you make your wishes though and live your dream!

  2. Pingback: INKSPILL 2014 Links | awritersfountain

  3. Pingback: INKSPILL Programme 2015 | awritersfountain

  4. Pingback: INKSPILL Not Yet Ready for Sleep | awritersfountain

  5. Pingback: INKSPILL Exploring the Archives | awritersfountain

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s