I rarely find the time to do this sort of thing but, would you believe, I sprained my ankle this morning! So now it’s my turn to be stuck in bed and I’m not complaining.
Ideas. Where the hell do they come from? Can you make those little fuckers show up?
That is the easy bit. I have more ideas than I have time to deal with. Usually they flow from thinking over a particular scene in an episode and imagining how the presence of one or more characters, or a different turn of events, would have affected the outcome. And sometimes, as in Boxing Day, it comes from reading or hearing a remark from someone involved in the show. That story all grew out of RTD talking about how the Doctor and Rose were dangerous people who expected huge sacrifices from those around them and sometimes enjoyed the ensuing chaos a little too much.
One thing I’ve noticed is that I tend to set up scenarios where my characters can’t run away from the consequences of their behaviour, and then look at how they cope.
Wild horse-bunnies. When a story just gets pulled right out of you. Do you get them?
Absolutely, and almost always straight after watching an episode, or a scene, that really touched me. I’ve written some stories in about twenty minutes. “The Bigger Picture” came straight from the end of Gridlock, and my speculation on where Martha and the Doctor might go from there.
I also have vivid memories of being so moved by “Runaway Bride” that I couldn’t go to bed that night until I’d written it out. It felt as if the Doctor was inside me and it was my task to write all the things he’d felt and not managed to say.
Writer’s block. Have you been scourged?
Oh yes. Usually right in the middle of a really long, complicated plot when I panic and think “I can’t do this!” I get out of it by writing little scenes on a more modest scale. All the stuff I’m posting now is because I’m scared of tackling the sequel to “Some are more equal”. Gallifrey and densely plotted stuff freaks me out.
Clean up duty. Do you like editing?
Less than I ought to. I’m a very impatient writer and also rather a self-conscious one. Both make it difficult for me to work with betas and I should. Strangely, I have three wonderful BRs and this summer I actually met two of them. And since then I’ve found it much more difficult to ask them to look at my stuff. I hide behind a cloak of anonymity. Still love talking about writing with them both, however.
The ending. Is it hard for you to find the ending?
Not usually, but it can be murder getting there. In fact, I have been known to write the ending before anything else!
The title. Where do you get yours? Do you have yours when you start the story?
It varies. I have a story planned out right now that consists of a title and little else. Often, the inspiration is something a character on the show says, usually the Doctor. If there’s an element of self-delusion involved, I enjoy playing with that. One title I have lined up is, “The Moral High Ground” which, of course, is from his remark to Yvonne Hartmann “You can shoot me, but the moral high ground is mine.” If it ever gets written, it’ll be about wrestling with loads of murky moral decisions.
Song titles are also an inspiration, as in “The Way We Were.” In fact, I often use music to shift writers’ block. I really loved getting into 1970s music for that story. I remember writing an entire multi-Doctor scene around the Bob Dylan song, “My Back Pages” (Okay, that’s probably a 1960s song).
Plot. If you plot out your stories first, raise your hand.
Sometimes, but the most carefully plotted are sometimes my least successful. My favourite ones are where I just let the characters dictate the outcome, on the whole. Jack is particularly difficult to pin down, because he thinks with the part of his body that I’m least familiar with, shall we say.
POV. How do you choose your POV for a scene? For a story?
Oh, that fascinates me. I think it’s the most crucial decision for me. In longer stories I have several POV characters. I enjoy the contrast of swopping them around.
Unlike many people whose writing I admire, I probably feel most comfortable writing the Doctor. I only have to look at a close-up of DT’s face to get the writing bug because there’s often such a huge gulf between what he’s saying and how he’s feeling. That’s what I love to explore. I talked this over with my writing buddies and we came to the conclusion it’s because I’ve suffered from depression for many years but tend to present a slightly manic, “I’m always all right,” persona to the outside world. Also, it’s great fun to write someone in denial being called to account for himself. Comic or tragic, it’s all there. I love walking the delicate line between the two.
Challenges. Do you like them? Do they inspire you?
I’m always meaning to get a prompt table or something but then another idea comes along. I’m very much my own person with writing and tend to resist challenges, although I did enjoy doing Happy Who about a year ago.
Sex. Do you like writing sex?
Hate it, mostly because I’m so self-conscious about my fandom and writing generally. I’m afraid I feel unfaithful to my partner when I write sex scenes and I simply can’t get past that. Nope, I’m the person to read when you want the Doctor and Rose arguing about who does the washing up, or whatever.
Jack is a very alien character to me. My natural progression is from intimacy to sex, but he seems to take the opposite route. At the moment I’m interested in some of Jack’s hang-ups, and one of the things I think he needs to learn is that you don’t have to do it with someone to feel close to them. In fact, it can be a substitute for things he needs even more.