Help! I’ve rewritten series 5 episode 3 of [insert classic TV sci-fi here]

There’s only so many stories in the world, I know that. And within a genre it’s easy to fall into cliche-traps. Your classic hard-boiled detective comes up against the gat, the girl and the gangster (not necessarily in that order) and the variation comes from how he handles it. Or maybe just the wisecracks.

I thought I was onto something with a recent story. It wasn’t breaking new ground but it was by no means riddled with cliche. Then I realised that if I pictured the central character as Tom Baker in a long scarf, it still worked. If I hadn’t quite rewritten turn by turn a 1970s episode of Doctor Who, it wouldn’t look out of place in the stack of scripts they never filmed. A brief period of crisis ensued: should I ditch the story entirely or just think of another central premise (but if I was going to do that, why not ditch it entirely)? Then I was hit by an uncharacteristic wave of confidence: countless stories and scripts have similarities of plot, it’s the writing and the characters that make them different.

The story survived, now all I have to do is redraft until the characters are individuals and the writing’s outstanding. See you in a few years…


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