tealin: (catharsis)
[personal profile] tealin
I found this part of On the Outside It Looked Like an Old Fashioned Police Box really interesting, as I've been thinking a lot about character development lately. An easy way to make a character more real is to get inside their head, recording their thoughts (if it's a book*) or filming things from their point of view (if it's a film**). But the following segment made me realize you don't have to do this to have a strong character – we have no doubt who The Doctor is, but we only ever see him from the outside. I suppose this makes a lot of sense, really; you know your friends very well – what they like and dislike, would do and wouldn't do, how they would react to a given situation – but you never ride around in their heads. Anyway, enough from me:

Mark Gatiss:
I've written for the character of The Doctor myself, and as a writer, one of the cardinal rules is: you don't go inside The Doctor's head. One of my favourite things about the character, the idea of The Doctor, is that although he looks like us, sounds like us, and wants to be like us, he isn't like us. I think that at heart, he's a lord. A Time Lord. And even at his most blokey, like Christopher Eccleston, or his most human, like David Tennant or Peter Davison, there's something of the tenant farmer about him (no pun intended). He comes down to the fields and mucks in, but he doesn't really belong there. Or he's like a great village GP, who helps people with their problems, but in essence belongs to the big house on the hill. I think that's rather wonderful. It doesn't make him posh, it makes him other.
Russell T Davies:
You'll find in the old books that it's very hard to get inside his head, and actually they don't – what I mean is they don't present events from The Doctor's point of view. In other words what he's thinking, you don't go through his thought processes. Some people sort of say 'well that makes the Doctor a bit boring in print.' I think the opposite, actually, because he remains slightly unknowable ... if you're going to start dipping into his mind, and say 'The Doctor thought this, The Doctor thought that,' actually he's thinking of 57 things at once – he's thinking of a thousand things you know nothing about that wouldn't even make sense to humans. And actually, once you get inside his head you tend to find that he could solve the problem in five minutes. A lot of Doctor Who writing is actually delaying getting the doctor to the ending because he's so clever – and not just scientifically clever, he's literally clever, his insights into human nature are clever, you know, you're dealing with a genius. And I think what sustains The Doctor over, what, 46 years, is that still, to this day, you never really actually know what he's thinking, which means he could be thinking anything, do anything, and that keeps him alive.


Mr Gatiss, as presenter, had the luxury of writing his out beforehand, while Mr Davies' input was rather more extemporaneous, in case you were wondering about the vastly different styles... oral speech never transcribes well.

*Going Postal is one of the very best, in this regard
**Not literally P.O.V. shots (though that's not out of the question) but telling the story, visually, as they would tell it ... everyone has a different version of events and if you can find how your character would tell a story, what they would notice and how they would present other people and situations, that says almost as much about them as it does the story at hand.

Date: 2009-06-28 01:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ubiquitouspitt.livejournal.com
Show don't tell.

I know you and I have always pounded this phrase into a place of honour and underlined it multiple times but it took my creative writing teacher saying: "Only go inside their heads if it is impossible to gain something you can't show in any other way." And that was a direct challenge to my creativity and so I try to remember that advice.

In my new work I always 'film' from the view of the two main characters but I am beginning to realize that the character whose personality leaves the strongest most vivid impression is David and I never 'film' from his point of view or record his thoughts. He's 'the other'.

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