Coincidence and Reference

When Doctor Who came back for an eight series, my sister and I both tuned in, but I was watching it later in the week with her, so she’d seen it already. Less surprised by Capaldi’s performance the second time ’round, she would point out a bunch of different pieces and facts about what was going on, what was said, and trying to help me understand, from the standpoint of someone who’d been watching the show for years.

My sister doesn’t miss much, as an aside.

Considering the way things went that episode, I’m willing to bet this happened toward the end. The Doctor says something to the villain about something else that happened, earlier in the show. That also managed to be an episode written by Steven Moffat. My sister’s words were something like this: “Ugh. It’s his episode. Like, I don’t care. Why don’t you reference something other than your own work?”

I paused. You’re always inclined to agree with your family and friends, but when they say things that make you rethink what you’ve been doing all this time, there’s cause for consideration.

I did agree with her, quietly, but I thought about it. In other stories, I have tiny little references and “Easter eggs” about other stories and characters and things I’ve worked on. Names and phrases that mean something to something else I’ve written. I can hardly imagine I’m alone, I know Friend does it, we do it with each other’s works sometimes. Shared things. Even references to other works, in the form of puns or jokes.

Maybe that’s where the difference lies. If you take from only your work, then you’re not branching out, you’re thought of as narcissistic, self-absorbed in all of your own work, to the point of self-worshiping. Tooting your own horn and blocking everyone else out. Arrogance. It turns people off.

Keeping yourself open and taking from everything that’s available, in some small form or another, is the key to it all. If, in this case, all means “seeming open and creative.”

Something that brought this to my attention again was that I saw two different stills– hold on.

This. Referencing his own work, pulling from one to the next, and linking the two works together because of a phrase he likes. Which, if you like the phrase, make it something that one character says, in my opinion.

Of course, within the Doctor Who fans, most seem content to dislike Moffat and his writing, what he does and how he works the storyline. “Russel T. Davies was so much better!” They talk about the characters under Moffat lacking depth and dimension, that there’s very little imagination to it and that he keeps relying on old staples instead of creating new ones, and, of course, that he plays solely in his own little creations.

In the beginning, and even a little bit now, I can’t claim to know that he’s the worst. I didn’t see much of Davies’ work, or the work before from the original series, and I only saw half of series seven. I think mistakes are made, but if he was really that awful, he would be sacked, right? I could never really tell good from bad in this case, but I wonder how much of that was because I’ve always been riding on my sister’s expectations and thoughts on the matter.

I will admit to being worried about ever becoming like Moffat in that situation, where people generally hate my work and throw me under the bus and deliberately pick things out to hate me for. It’s hard not to, as a writer, criticizing another writer.

Then again, some are just better at storytelling than others. It is the way of the world. We need all kinds to help illuminate all of the imaginations around the world. Someone needs your story, no matter how much an/other(s) don’t/doesn’t like it.

-The Novice Wordsmith

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