I came across an interesting book lately. I’m a big fan of the BBC’s current revival of its classic, long-running fantasy-adventure series Doctor Who. I’ve been really impressed with writer/executive producer/show runner Russell T. Davies’s clever, respectful continuation of the venerable show and have greatly enjoyed the program’s wonderfully entertaining mixture of sci-fi, drama, humor, and emotion.
Back in 2008, Davies published a book called The Writer’s Tale — a collection of emails between himself and the show’s publicist Benjamin Cook that chronicled Davies’s creative process as he conceived and executed the scripts for the show’s fourth series. Recently, Davies brought out a new edition of the book called The Writer’s Tale: The Final Chapter, which reprinted the original book along with almost 200 pages of additional material covering the creation of the five specials that were produced in 2009, including Davies’s and star David Tennant’s final episodes, “The End of Time” Part 1 and Part 2.
This is a great book for Doctor Who fans because it provides a great deal of information as to how the stories and scripts for the show were developed and how the creative team went about realizing them. But, even if you’re interested in the adventures of the man from Gallifrey, this is still a tome that’s worth reading because it’s also a great book about screenwriting. Davies has been a professional scripter for almost twenty-five years, and his thoughts about writing – what makes it good; the agonies and the ecstasies of the process (most especially how hard it is sometimes to simply get started, which is a major recurring theme of the piece); and the practical realities of being a professional in a very tough business, one that forces creative folk to conform their visions to the unyielding demands of budgets, schedules, and censorship and that requires them to be businessmen, promoters, and politicians as well as artists – are thoughtful and compelling. Davies conveys his insights and wisdom with enormous energy and good humor and (sometimes too much) personal information. At approximately 700 pages, it could be argued that the book is a tad long, but Davies’s wonderfully expressed passion for the craft makes it well worth the read. Check it out.