Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Writer's Tale

If you're interested in writing for TV, or in making a real, money-earning career out of writing of any kind, then you just have to buy Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale.

It contains a series of emails which Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook exchanged between February 2007 and April 2008, in which they discuss all things Dr Who: the scripts, the series, the production team and the actors. Fragments of the show's scripts appear throughout along with photos of the show and some of Davies's cartoons, and through this eclectic mix it becomes clear how Davies forms and develops his many ideas, how the Dr Who plots were developed and how the scripts evolved. It's a funny, frank and moving account of Davies's obsession with his work: Davies is a successful writer, but he's become successful through extreme dedication and ridiculous amounts of sustained hard work.

I was going to write a real review of this book, but Keith Topping has already made a much better job of that than I could. So go and read Keith's review here: then go out and buy yourself a copy of The Writer's Tale, because it's a beautiful, rich, and wonderful book whether you're a writer or not.

9 comments:

Daniel said...

First thing of his I ever saw on telly was "Dark Season" in 1991. I remember thinking at the time how "Doctor Who"-ish it was. Same goes for "Century Falls" just over a year later.

Didn't know you were aware of Keith Telly Topping and his blog. He can be heard doing book and TV reviews (and making fun of Sting) on BBC Radio Newcastle.

Jane Smith said...

I don't know either of those TV programs, Daniel, but then I was out working in those days--which meant I was out partying in the evenings, and didn't have a telly at home.

As for Mr Telly Topping, I discovered him yesterday when I poked around your website. So it's all your fault I found him. I loved Newcastle last time I was there (for a book launch, as it happens), but didn't listen to any radio: I was too exhausted by the glories of the Phil & Lit.

Liz said...

I like the sounds of this book, because I write, and my husband loves Dr. Who! Sounds like a win/win. The writer's life can be so hard, what with all the rejection writers endure. So Mary Patrick Kavanaugh, whose book was rejected multiple times, is holding a funeral ceremony for her manuscripts. This is the place for writers mourning their manuscripts that have been rejected.

Elton A.R. Alwine said...

I can't say I was a fan of Doctor Who growing up, but this book does sound interesting. I think I'll check it out if I see it at the bookshop. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

beth said...

WOW! Thanks so much for the heads up--I'd never heard of this book before, but will buy it right now! I love Doctor Who, and love learning about its inception.

Sally Zigmond said...

The re-incarnated Doctor Who under Russell Davies is streets ahead of the old version. And that's 99% due to the writing. Russell is a great writer but my favourite recent(ish) episode is the one about the evil statues and hardly features the Doctor at all, except in a weird time-confusion. Brilliant concept, brilliant writing. I also loved the Madame de Pompadour episode too. I believe they were both written by the guy who's set to take over as chief writer. Sorry I can't name him. I'm hopeless at names. In one ear out, the other.

Daniel said...

Steven Moffat. Also writer of "The Empty Child", aka "the one with the boy in the gasmask who says Are You My Mummy?", and creator of the excellent "Press Gang". Doctor Who's future is in safe hands.

Jane Smith said...

Thank you, Daniel--I was going to look it up, but it's much easier this way.

Years ago, when my youngest son Fred was about three, I took him to Sainsbury's and was skulking round with him in a trolley when he leaned over, caught hold of a woman' coat, and said to her very urgently, "She's not my mummy..." as he pointed to me. I was incredulous; he enjoyed that SO much that he carried on trying it out with everyone we passed. In the end I abandoned shopping, but I remember wondering why no one reacted, and how I'd have proved my mummyness if they had.

Probably by shouting at Fred.

Jane Smith said...

Apologies for the comment-spam which appeared here just now: I've deleted it, and have switched on the comment moderation feature in an attempt to stop it happening again.