Sunday, December 28, 2014

No Moffatry

I finally caught up on this season of Doctor Who--don't you love it when your parents have Comcast On Demand? Here's the thing: I adore Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor, but Steven Moffat continues to have some serious failings a writer. The most troubling thing to me is his inability to write even remotely realistic female characters. (Regarding the recent Christmas Special: god forbid elderly Clara be able to go in the TARDIS--only young, conventionally pretty women deserve to travel space and time! And it's good to know that she never really has a life of her own--only a love life. It only matters what men she's with, or not with.) But Moffat also has a big problem with plot holes. He always tries to create these overarching, season-long arcs that don't pay off when they "resolve" in the end because he hasn't given us enough information for them to resolve in a satisfying way. I think there are two possibilities for why he does this: 1) He has the whole situation figured out in his head, but just assumes that we'll all think the same way he does, so he fails to put the things we need to know into the script, or 2) He doesn't even have all the rules figured out--he's more concerned with the ending flourish, and doesn't care about doing the necessary work to earn that flourish.

Sometimes this happens in a single episode as well; the recent Christmas Special was absurd, for instance. Basically it involved these aliens that attacked by putting you into multiple, nesting dream states so that you wouldn't notice while they slowly ate your brain. But the "logic" that the Doctor uses to determine whether they're in a dream state doesn't hold up, especially towards the end of the episode. It was sort of a cheap Inception rip-off featuring aliens and Santa Claus--although, to be honest, I had similar problems with Inception. The more I watched it and thought about it, the less it made sense.

All this led me to create a new writing mantra last night: DON'T BE A MOFFAT.

I've been working on my novel as much as I can over break--I recently broke the 50,000-word mark!--but lately I've been bothered by a few things (this is going to be hard to explain without summarizing my whole story, so I apologize for the vagueness):
  • My main character can enter a different world and control powerful creatures/forces, but so far it is unclear how he controls them. He's not a wizard like Harry Potter, so there's no spellcasting involved. In my head it's more of a psychological process, but that's just the trouble--right now it's only in my head. I need to find a concrete way to explain it on the page, especially considering that he's being trained to do this.
  • I thought I had all the rules of this different world figured out, but as I've been writing more, I've come up against some situations where I don't know why the creatures are doing what they're doing, and that's a serious problem. If I don't fully understand the thing I've created, nobody else will, either.
My novel is still in the rough draft stage, and I've also never written a novel before, obviously, so I can't be too hard on myself. But I feel as though Steven Moffat would simply leave these issues unanswered, just to get to the big bang flashy finish as quickly as possible. He wouldn't care that it doesn't make sense. I care very much. I want my story to be airtight. So last night I made a new list of rules for my world; I'd already made one early on, but I had to add to it, both in length and in detail. Today I think I'm going to re-write a few small sections throughout to make sure it's clear how my character is controlling the creatures. I think it's dangerous to do too much editing when I still don't have a completely finished draft, but at the same time, I think this will make it easier to write the rest of the scenes where's he's controlling them. I want there to be consistency.

Leta once cross-stitched me a small sign that says "Ass to Chair," so that I would always remember to sit down and write. I have it on my desk. Maybe someday she can make me one that says "Don't Be a Moffat" to go along with it. 

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