Saturday, 4 September 2010


Everyone's a critic.

But that in itself is no bad thing. When I put my first draft out I was hoping for some pointers about what needed work. Amongst the people reading it were old school fans, newish fans and a few who were completely unaware of Doctor Who.

On the whole most of the things that were criticised I was aware of and I was thankful for the areas I had missed. The next draft is progressing along now in large part due to the notes I received back.

But you can't listen to everyone. You just can't.

As a writer you have to quickly learn how to take and interpret criticism. You can't just pick and choose the comments that back up what you've done so far and ignore all the negatives. At the same time you can't get too bogged down in just the negatives, you'd never write anything again if you did that. You need to learn to look at the feedback as a whole and remove all bias from your analysis.

A perfect example would be "The Attack of the 'Hmmmms'".

Seeing as I was writing for the first Doctor (albeit younger than we've ever known him) I tried very hard to find his voice. I watched old episodes and read back everything I wrote for to myself. One of the distinctive habits that William Hartnell gave the Doctor was the use of "Hmm?" at the end of any question the Doctor asked. I therefore used that in his speech. I was quite pleased with I way it sounded.

However, most people felt that there were too many used through out the story. And that I stretched them out with too many letters on occasion. One person felt that I had "pretty much nailed the Hartnell voice."

So, did I listen to the one person whose opinion agreed with mine or did I pay heed to the general consensus? A incredibly valid question. One I'm still struggling with. On one hand the person that agrees with me has a considerable knowledge of Who; he's well versed in the series, the books and the audio plays. He's also on the cusp of being a published author. His is not an opinion I take lightly. Having said that he's also seriously outnumbered regarding this opinion.

At this point I've chosen to "walk in the valley of the shadow of compromise". I've reduced the number of times I use an "Hmm?" and I've shortened the length of the word when I do use it.

And sometimes, just sometimes, you get an opinion that you have to disregard completely. I hate doing that. It always feels like an act of ego doing so. I got just such a critique on Friday.

Well that's not entirely true. Some valid points were raised. I'll leave you with the feedback and my defense of the points raised:

Point 1: Don't like the fact it's set in a cave. It's Sci-Fi. Would prefer grand scenario. New worlds require grandeur
I chose the cave on purpose. I felt it suited the theme of appointing a Champion of Time, that it carried a mythic quality. Also, in the current draft I'm using it as a metaphor for the Doctor's state of mind.

Point 2: The phrase "Set in stone" is overused.
Can't argue that point. I'm currently toning it down in the current draft.

Point 3: The identities of the Doctor, his friend and the spectres at the back of the cave are obvious from prior knowledge.
I don't know about obvious, but prior knowledge was certainly intended to help identify the characters involved. I don't feel, and the critic agreed, that not knowing who they were affected the flow of the story.

Point 4: You obviously have no grasp on the history of the Doctor. He has no family apart from Jenny the clone, so he couldn't have left any on Gallifrey. And the Master has always been evil so he could never have been friends with the young Doctor.
It was at this point that alarm bells started going off.

Point 5: You've not got any chapters.
Probably because it's a 4,300 word short story that fills 9 pages.


  1. right dude.

    point 1. yes its a cave its good in the cave. has the critic never seen any episodes of ST:TOS?!

    point 2. fair enough though I disagree.

    point 3. yes obvious from prior ku assuming you have that prior ku its a nod to the informed and a nice thing for new people. its not bad. they should stay.

    point 4. critic is wrong. and the doctor has commented as much on several occasions. THEY clearly have little ku of the full pantheon.

    point 5. its a short story.