I watch Dr. Who now. Dr. Who is Cool.

If you’re not watching Dr. Who now, friends, you are missing out on some of the best science fiction drama/comedy storytelling on TV.  In my family Dr. Who is a multigenerational tradition. My dad saw the original series when he lived in England (I believe Pertwee was his first Doctor), and more recently me and my brothers have started watching it.

I’ve tried to find the adequate words to describe why you should watch this show, but I think Neil Gaiman, who is a lifelong Dr. Who fan, writer of the season 6 episode “The Doctor’s Wifeamong other things, and all around good guy says it better than I could:

“There’s a big blue box.  It’s bigger on the inside than the outside. It can go anywhere in space and time, sometimes where it is supposed to go.  Something will go wrong, and there’s some bloke called The Doctor who’ll make it all right because he’s awesome.  Now sit down, shut up and watch Blink.”

But really, for me, aside from the hours of brilliant heartfelt storytelling that Dr. Who delivered, the biggest impact was on my writing. I’ve started writing fun stories, silly stories, stories that I would not have conceivably written had it not been for Dr. Who. (And yes, I do write Dr. Who fan-fic. Its out in the open now. Not that I plan on showing the world any time soon.)

To catch you up, here’s a brief summary of everything you need to know about Dr. Who.

For someone new to Dr. Who I wouldn’t suggest starting from Series 1 and working up to Series 6, unless you want to be complete about it. At the very least I’d say you should watch these episodes to understand Steven Moffat’s (current showrunner of Dr. Who) story arc:

1. Dalek (Series 1)

2. Girl in the Fireplace (Series 2)*

3. Human Nature/The Family of Blood (Series 3)*

4. Blink (Series 3)**

5. Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (Series 4)

6. Everything from Series 5 onwards.

Though, if you had to watch just one, watch Blink. You can thank me later. The latter half of Series 6 starts in September 2011, so you’ll have plenty of time to catch up over the summer.

*[The starred episodes are, imho, the best written ones.]

I’d be interested in hearing other Who-vians opinions about how to introduce someone to the show.

And, as an afterthought, fans of Moffat’s Dr. Who work might like his work on the BBC’s Sherlock: a modern day adaption featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman (who’s playing Bilbo in The Hobbit) as Watson. It’s clever, cerebral, witty and labyrinthine storytelling at its best.

Second Draft Blues

I hate second drafts. At this point, as the writer, you’ve finished the story once, but you know that you will throw away 99% of it in the second draft. But this is not why I hate second drafts. Its the revision.

In second draft revision, I’ve found myself in stages of major story reconstruction while simultaneously fixing passive voice sentence structure and cliche scenes. I almost never have moments of pure “flow”–just free wheeling fun where I’m creating the story–there are always concerns of whether the story has got its shit together (in a manner of speaking) or if I’m just writing a exhaustingly self effacing monologue that pokes fun of the sf/fantasy genre and poorly imitates a Neil Gaiman short story.  (Note: I bring this up because I have a unknown number of trunk short stories from high school and the beginning of University that tried and failed at the task.)

And, the truth of it is that there’s no easy way around the revision. You put in the hours, the days, and whatever it takes to get you from beginning to middle to end. Then when you have something vaguely story shaped, your writing workshop (if you  belong to one) reads it and tells you that you may need another draft. And you repeat, and sometimes on the worst of days it feels like the revision is ad infinitum. But persist (like I am) and you may surprise yourself with something original.

On a personal note, I finished up the second draft of a story I started during the summer, and submitted it to two writing workshops at the start of September. The comments were helpful and  for the most part fixed glaringly obvious flaws in the story.  Due to school and other commitments I put off second draft revisions on another short story I finished over the summer. But, being honest here, the first draft sucks. I’ve rescued the best bits that I can from that train wreck and I’m attempting to Frankenstein the next iteration together. But, I did get out 430 words tonight and it looks pretty good down the road for the story.  I wonder what it’ll be like to write a novel that’s at least ten times longer than any short story I’ve written so far and revise that… Your thoughts? Anyone out there actually like second drafts or revision?