When I signed on to write for the Public Domain Universe--the brand new podcast project that is the brainchild of writer/producer/comedian Ben Fort--I broke my cardinal rule of storytelling: always know the end of the story before starting to write from the beginning. A project like this podcast, though, is unique. In fact, it's very much more like a television show than a book (or a book series), and for that reason, I've had to approach it... differently. A bit like the Doctor, if you will, stepping out of the Tardis, with a sense of, "I'm not sure exactly how I got here or how this is going to end, but I'm certain I'm supposed to be here, and together, with my companions, we'll make sure to have the best darned adventure we can! Oh yeah, and hope that everything turns out resolved and neat and tidy when we're through, too."
Speaking of Doctor Who, this whole experience of writing for a podcast--and the difference between writing for a podcast and writing a novel--has allowed me to really explore different sorts of storytelling options available on television. Some shows are finite. They're clearly only made to run for a set number of seasons, so the writers have a sense that they are writing to some sort of END. I imagine--and I've always imagined, because I'm a writer, and this is the bonkers sort of thing I sit and think about when watching TV--that it's still incredibly challenging to write TV shows like this, because one never knows if they will be renewed season after season. In fact, I think this is probably what went awry with the plot of LOST around seasons 5-6. Without a set end or end date, writers on shows are, I imagine, often left having to come up with probable endings, and then filler when the show is renewed again (or fumbling to wrap things up if they are not). Some shows manage it well, some shows do not. With a show like Doctor Who, though, the sky (the universe... all of space and time!) is literally the limit.
And this is what makes Doctor Who so successful, and so brilliant. There doesn't have to ever be an ending. The Doctor can endlessly regenerate. The universe will never be too small. There are infinite worlds to be explored, and with them, infinite stories to be told. What an alluring concept! In that regard, my cardinal rule does not apply, because the Doctor IS the story, and the "end" of the story is that he has no end.
But, alas, his companions always do, and that's what forms the real drama, and the keep-you-coming-back story arcs, season after season. And, of course, the writers on a show like Doctor Who have to know the beginning and end of each of the companion's stories. And as I'm now writing for a show--albeit just a small start-up podcast show--I'm adjusting to the fact that I may not know the end of our metanarrative, and I may not know where the other two writers are taking their characters, and I may not ever know if our show is going to be renewed for a second, third, fourth... season, but what I DO, and CAN know is the stories of my characters--my companions, if you will. We don't have all of time and space to explore in the Public Domain Universe, but we do have, well, all of the characters in the Public Domain we could explore using, if we wanted to, and that gives us a lot of options for a lot of stories to come. Will you come exploring with us? We may be small now, but if there's one thing I've learned from the Tardis, it's that good things often come in small packages.
*Find the Public Domain Universe on the Interwebz: http://publicdomainuniverse.com/
~If you're only interested in following my stories on the PDU (Cinderella), you can find my page on the website HERE.
*Listen to the Public Domain Universe on iTunes HERE! It's Free!
*Follow @PDUpod on Twitter to stay up-to-date on all the latest episodes and to interact with the writers and producer!
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