Cliché ideas

Hey readers! Nessa here.

I’m more or less on time but I’m going to dive right in because I had a burst (more like a brick thrown at my head) of inspiration while discussing something on a facebook thread in a writing group I’m in.

So you guys know I’m a stickler about clichés, right? I know… I sound like a broken record. But someone just said something to me, as more or less a veteran of the group, that struck a chord. I’ve heard it so many times before and it never really registered until now.

 

Basic rundown of the conversation:

Them: *asking about title ideas they have*

Myself and other members: “In all honesty they sound cliché, I wouldn’t personally pick up a book with that title because it sounds like a thousand other books.”

Them: “Okay okay they sound cliché but trust me the actual stories aren’t.”

 

Does anyone see the problem with this mindset, as innocent as it is?

Yes? No? Maybe so?

Alright so let’s say that the stories really aren’t cliché (although as mean as this sounds 99% of the times I’ve had writers say this to me the stories were in fact rather overdone). It’s quite possible. A truly unique and well-written story, dare I say masterpiece, is masked by a sub-par title or stereotypical back cover blurb. It’s very plausible. I’m certain it’s happened.

But, though you may know it’s not cliché, the readers aren’t in your mind. They don’t know the hours and hours of work you put into your book making it stand apart from the rest. All they see is a half-ass title drowning in a sea of similarly half-assed titles (sorry if this is harsh but that’s how I see it). I mean, if you were able to put the skill and dedication into creating a NOVEL (50K+ words!) that is both unconventional and great it just seems like laziness that you couldn’t extend that effort to what is essentially your book’s first impression: everything written on the cover.

You know the saying, don’t judge a book by its cover? Yeah… everyone does it. For me its this order:

  1. Title
  2. Cover art
  3. Synopsis

Call me shallow but these things can prevent me from picking up what may well be a wonderful creation. If all three of those things are present, I’ll read the book. Sometimes two exceptionally well done of the three elements will override one lacklustre element and I’ll read it anyway but don’t count on it.

Back to the point. Sometimes it is difficult to be unbiased with your babies. It’s hard to separate yourself from the project. It’s so easy to forget that all that background knowledge in your head doesn’t translate to the audience. Something that makes perfect sense to you won’t to a reader because they didn’t experience or craft it themselves.

It’s a difficult thing to overcome because you can’t press a magic button and poof forget everything about the project in order to see it with fresh eyes. Here is where I again suggest beta readers. Betas are wonderful! They are essentially a test for real audiences without the risk, and its better because they can help you polish off the more jagged edges.

Most authors look for betas in the final stages of a novel but I like to use them whenever I can, often when I get stuck in the mud. They’re such inspirational little nuggets and there’s no brainstorming buddy like a beta. You can even have them go into it with specific requests.

So you can’t think of a non-cliché title? Round up your betas and ask them to keep it in mind while reading. Someone so much less attached to the project will pick up on the elements you best relayed without all the prior knowledge you possess, and they’ll come up with some wicked titles for you. Same with synopsises, tag lines… all that fun front-cover stuff.

Just whenever your discussing ideas and you hear yourself uttering the accursed words but trust me it’s not cliché… Well, how do we know?

Chew it over.

Til next time, lovelies.

Vanessa

 

 

the Flow of Your Writing

Morning dear readers! Vanessa here. I think I may be a wee bit early but this morning was the beginning of second semester and thus my Grade 12 English class and the ensuing discussion regarding what makes good writing gave me inspiration. One such point was the flow of the writing and it got me thinking; flow is the number one issue I see when I read for people. Young writers especially struggle with this. It’s a normal issue and I have many tips to dish out that should make this easier for you.

Flow in this context can be defined as how smooth your writing sounds. Sentences aren’t clunky or confusing or awkwardly phrased. Your mind doesn’t stumble when reading.

Seems simple enough, eh? Well it’s easier said than done. Everyone has been guilty of clumsy writing at one point or another. Maybe you were sleep-deprived or rushing or it just sounded better in your head. Sometimes you just can’t think of a better phrasing at the time so you shrug and say, that’s what editing is for. But I’m going to go ahead and say that about 92% of the time you don’t realize when you’ve jotted down something that doesn’t flow right. Otherwise you wouldn’t have done it. Here are the things I often recommend when I edit to help you become aware of how your writing flows.

  1. Read aloud: This is the best tip I can give. Sometimes when we only read in our head we may accidentally skip over something that doesn’t flow right because in our heads we know what we meant and it’s easier to read internally anyway. But when we read out loud if something isn’t worded right we might stutter or stumble or just trail off saying “what…” because even we aren’t sure where we were going with that. I can guarantee that you’ll find most of your problems solely from reading aloud – though maybe have some tea with honey, because you may strain your throat.
  2. Watch your commas: So I probably sound like a hypocrite because I’m very very free with my commas but this is a common offender affecting fluidity. A misplaced or even missing comma can greatly affect the pacing of a sentence. A comma in the wrong spot will create a pause you wouldn’t normally hear or a missing one could make the sentence sound rushed. There are many different kinds of punctuation that could also cause this problem, but to be frank most don’t know how to use them properly and stick to commas, which in itself litters your writing up too much. When writing try to stop at each comma and think, “is this necessary/needed?” and even so when you reread later read aloud. As stated in the last point you will pick up on weird pauses much quicker than reading in your head.
  3. Word choice: Sometimes the problem is as simple as the wrong word. For example, every writer has dug up a thesaurus to try to add variety and spice to their vocabulary and thrown synonyms all up in their stories. Now this can be great. I love doing this. It’s a wonderful way to learn new words you may not have otherwise. However, many of the synonyms you’ll find are much less common than the word you began with, and they don’t always fit in everyday sentences. If every sentence is consistent in such word choice, go for it (just try not to sound pretentious!) but more often there will be a relatively normal vocab and then random huge words thrown in wherever, which will jerk readers from the flow of the story. A basic rule to follow is this: if you didn’t know what the word meant before looking it up, don’t expect readers to. I’d steer clear.
  4. Vary sentence lengths: This is something I have a lot of fun with but most don’t consider. Some writers I’ve noticed follow a pattern of sentence lengths, almost rigid as though they don’t realize they can mix it up. What I mean here is that they have several very short sentences in a row, which can make writing clunky and choppy, or several very long sentences in a row which can be tedious to read. For optimal flow to your writing you should swap them out. If you’ve written an unusually long sentence, maybe follow up with a shorter one. Keeps readers on their toes which should drive interest up, and this keeps things flowing well.
  5. Sentence beginnings: This last tip is more personal preference than anything else but I figured I’d leave you with something to chew over. One thing that I hate doing and dislike reading is when numerous sentences in a row begin with the exact same word. The worst culprits would be “she” and “he” and “I”. It nags at me in an OCD kind of way. It really just makes me think the author (or me if I ever do it) isn’t creative enough to think of more than one way to open a sentence. It also bothers the flow for me because it jerks me from the story. I get annoyed. Try to be mindful of how you begin sentences. As a novice writer I used to have the most trouble with this, starting all my sentences with “I did this” or “I did that”. Blah. But with time and focus it will become easier and easier to add variety.

So there you are, lovely readers. These are my top 5 tips for detecting and fixing flow in your writing. These are the tips I stand by myself out of experience. Many of these can be employed solely during the editing stage if you want to just plow through the first draft and make revisions later. But these can also be used if you edit as you go as I tend to do. It’s time consuming, sure, but there’ll be less work later when it comes to subsequent drafts.

Hope this helped. Any questions? Comments are always read. They’ve been silent for awhile too.

Til next time.

Vanessa

The Neverending Story

Hey folks! Vanessa here. Yes I’m a bit late but I had exams. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, today I’m going to discuss the Neverending Story – and no, I don’t mean the classic movie featuring Atreyu, that big white dragon thingy, and the horrible horrible scene with the dying horse. No, the Neverending Story is my personal pet name for the books (or movies, to be fair) with a plot that feels like it will never end.

You know what I mean. Everyone has suffered through reading a book and you’re just waiting and waiting for things to happen and for it to conclude, but you keep trudging on because surely something interesting or important will happen any moment now but then there’s an abrupt and ultimately unsatisfying end.

I’m honestly really guilty of this. Plot and pacing is my biggest issue, but I’ve really looked into how to remedy this for my own purposes. It occurred to me that I had an audience (I hope anyway… I’d seem really sad just sitting here talking to no one) who could really get some use out of it.

So learn from my mistakes! Take my knowledge, I bequeath it all!

One thing that most stories lack nowadays are a good set of obstacles. Most plots seem too goal-oriented and straightforward. It’s unrealistic. It’s like the book form of going to a city you’ve never been and getting from point A to point B without getting confused or lost. You’ll get lost, and similarly your characters won’t reach their goals without some physical or metaphorical stumble along the way.

This didn’t occur to me until I reread some books from my childhood and I noticed that their journey had a lot more twists and turns and backtracking and such than I tend to see in books, or at least in the YA genre. And maybe modern writers think it’s just frustrating or a waste of time for readers such as moi but it really just makes me more invested.

When the character is torn down and stomped all over and plunged to their lowest low it makes their following uprising and ultimate victory so much more meaningful. They clawed their way back from the bottom after a series of walls blocking their way and each wall rose my suspense and tension until I’m actually getting a sore neck from reading because I’m so on edge. But if the hero says “this is my goal” and without much fuss goes and achieves it… Well that’s nice, but why do I care? I’m not being a jerk, I swear. They haven’t proven themselves worthy of this win. They’ve been given a birthday cake when their birthday isn’t for another three months. No, child. They must earn that birthday wish.

One good thing that some authors have done was to utilize their obstacles in the final showdown to portray the level of character development that has gone on. Let’s look at the Harry Potter series, for instance. Without question the whole shebang was leading up to the face off of between The Boy Who Lived and He Who Must Not Be Named. Each year the challenges became darker and grittier and more difficult. Each was merely a warm up, however, for the final battle of Hogwarts. The spiders from book 2, dementors from book 3… Elements and enemies from the trio’s past victories came back to haunt them but this time you can see how much easier it was. Each past battle was scraped by and won by the skin of their teeth but the returning baddies were dismissed with much more ease this time around, highlighting how far the characters have come and progressed in their skills. They earned their victory. Give them a cake.

Trust me, I know that obstacles and trials are really painstaking and frustrating to write. As the author you’re most focussed on their main goals and the main plot, not all these problems and subplots, so you’ll always feel as though you’re spending too much time on them. You’ll feel as though they’re dragging on when really you are setting up a vital foundation for your protag to develop from and learn. And if it really does drag on… that’s what editing is for. It’s easier to trim scenes than to add new ones to an existing structure without changing the outcome of the whole thing.

Try to be mindful when you’re writing. If something feels off about the plot, think: have they earned this win yet? Have they put forth the effort and donated their blood, sweat, and tears into this? Have they been forced into situations where they had to adapt new skills to survive which will be necessary to win later?

If you lot have any questions, direct it to the comments. We’ll be around to answer.

Later, lovelies.

Vanessa

 

Making the Time

Hello dear readers. Vanessa here, again on time. How crazy is that? I’ve really grown up.

Anyhoo, I was perusing the writing group Adriana and I are both members of (Go Teen Writers, check out their blog) and I noticed a common obstacle that teen writers face: just making the time.

Adolescence is a lovely period in your life in which you are meant to stuff school, recreational activities (like writing!), socializing, fitness, preferably a job, and pretty much planning the next stages in your life, like applying to college in a teensy amount of time. You can only do so much with the 24 hours you have in a day. Some things are bound to fall through the cracks, and to be honest recreational activities (like writing!) are first to go.

But that doesn’t mean you should call it quits. There’s plenty you can do throughout the day and I’ve picked up a myriad of tips along the way.

Here we go: Vanessa’s Academy of Squeezing Some Productivity Out of Your Day.

I’ll refine the name.

  1. One thing I began doing when my life sped up was writing on my phone. Most phones have some sort of notes option or you could even download a free app of your choosing. Once you look for opportunities, they’re all over… but they’re often at really inconvenient moments in your life, or they’re just very small moments. And almost ALWAYS you are out of reach of pens and paper. If you aren’t out of reach, by the time you’ve fumbled through your knapsack for a writing utensil, the moment has passed/you’ve forgotten what you were going to say. But let’s be real here, when DON’T you have your phone on you? Never? Thought so. Maybe you’re waiting for a kettle to boil or you’re sitting on the bus (or the toilet) or some other such task. You’d be surprised how much those little moments and little thoughts through your day adds up. You’ll soon find yourself searching for even the smallest chances to squeeze in a sentence or two and eventually you’ll get more done in several wee segments instead of getting overwhelmed trying to do it all at once.
  2. There’s something called “100 for 100” which I consider the Nanowrimo for those who fear commitment (or just people who are really really really busy). Basically if you write just 100 words a day for 100 days and if you’ve been a good little nugget and gotten it done every day you should have 10 000 words at the end. 10 000 words may not be a novel, but it’s a hell of a start. It’s a good fraction of a novel, and in just over 3 months? That’s pretty darn good. 100 words a day is a tiny time commitment too. For reference, my first point on writing on your phone was 191 words. That’s almost double the daily requirement. Isn’t that crazy? You could write as much as you want but as long as you write at LEAST 100 words a day you’re golden. Easy as that.
  3. Let’s say for the sake of the post you have been awarded with a rare afternoon off, all to yourself, and like a good writer you decide to dedicate it to writing. But… oh poop. You’re burnt out. You have a serious case of writer’s block. But when will you get this time again? Something you can do is called a “word war”. You can one or more people set a time limit (usually 15 minutes but I’ve seen epic hour-long battles) where you just write and write as much as you can. Whoever has the most words at the end wins. The element of competition, as well as the added element of a ticking clock, is an amazing motivator. I’m too competitive and honestly it will make me plow through even the nastiest case of writer’s block. You can have one massive word war, which can be draining, or numerous consecutive ones. It’s certainly worth a shot.
  4. One thing that may boost your long-term productivity is setting yourself a routine. Look over the things you do each day and set aside time you would normally spend doing something non-productive like watching tv (or reading blogs, aha!). Plan instead to use that time for writing. After a week or so of doing this every day you will officially have integrated writing into your routine. If you have absolutely no non-productive time in your day to day life, which would be impressive, maybe try waking up 15 minutes earlier and start your day with some words. It may have a smaller pay up to begin but mark my words: in three months, the mere idea of not writing in your designated writing time will make you sweat.

Once again, lovelies, I’m out of time. Hope this helps a little.

Vanessa

 

Just a Booster

Hello readers. Vanessa here. I guess I’m more or less taking the reigns, which is fine. You guys aren’t sick of me yet I’m sure.

I hope.

Excellent segue; today I’m going to discuss self-doubt.

Self-doubt is almost guaranteed in any profession but especially those in which your product comes solely from the creativity of your own mind. An artist of any medium, be it words or colours or sounds, is going to be prone to crippling periods of uncertainty in which everything they produce just seems like crap.

It happens to the best of us. We all fall down. I haven’t known a writer who hasn’t wrestled with this issue, and it can be worse for teen authors because a) teens are angsty by definition and b) we’re so often overlooked as being novices in the craft. It’s natural to feel inadequate. Hard not to with such literary successes all around. Speaking as a teen writer, it ain’t easy. What is easy is getting lost in a masterpiece of a story and then resurfacing with the  heavy weight of despair at ever reaching that level of wordsmithery (is that a word? it should be… it is now). It seems impossible when you’re just at the beginning of your first draft with nothing to show for it but a handful of ideas and really really really rough notes jotted down on the back of some schoolwork that will totally get done.

But you know what? It’s not impossible. It really isn’t. Here’s some things to keep in mind throughout the whole long exhausting process of writing a book (or short stories or plays or poetry, we don’t discriminate here).

  1. You know that phenomenal book you just devoured that you love love love and let’s be honest hate a little bit for being so stinkin’ good? It was once a terrible first draft. Once upon a time (ha, story reference) it had fragment sentences, unnecessary commas, flat characters and a boring plot. The author once wrote and backspaced and scratched their heads and despaired. We think so highly of now-famous authors and try so hard to reach their standard, but they aren’t infallible. They underwent the same trials and tribulations and doubts as we have. Their precious novel reached the perfection you consider it to be through work and perseverance. And if you work hard and persevere at those handful of ideas of ideas, why couldn’t your book be the one that the next generation fawns over as being flawless?
  2. You know how you constantly try to develop that one idea that’s been in the back of your mind pestering you for like 495867 years (slight exaggeration) but however hard you try it refuses to not be cliché? Well, hate to break it to you but it’s 2016 and pretty much everything is cliché if you boil it down to its simplest form. I’m certain that Shakespeare himself covered everything that can possibly be done. Honestly, everything begins as cliché. Every idea an excited young writer has shot at me has been cliché. All of mine began that way. The trick is to take said cliché idea and give it a unique spin that makes it stand out amongst the other clichés (how many times can I say cliché in one paragraph?). For example, every few years a certain kind of book takes prominence in the YA market. Vampires, zombies, dystopian. They all boil down to the same simple elements. However, some books just excel in every way because the authors put such a different take on it. Every idea is cliché. Just be patient and keep working on it, because you’ll discover the one thing it needs to set it apart and shine. The way I see it, at least you have a cliché idea to start off with. Don’t ditch it because its been done. Tinker with it to discover new avenues you can explore and make it your own.
  3. So you’ve gotten through thick and thin with your first and maybe second drafts and it’s time to reaaaally commit to editing. But you’re discouraged; the writing is so predictable and blah and you just feel the need to cut out everything and cry and drown in the ceaseless markings of a red pen. But the thing is, it’s predictable because it came from your own mind. You wrote it. You already know what’s going to happen next. A first time reader doesn’t have that luxury (or curse). They have no inkling of how the story ends or what the protagonist will do or say. Unless you’re just a poopy writer all around (which I highly doubt because everyone has some sort of strong suit) another pair of eyes will find so much more to delight in when reading your story. This is exactly why beta readers are encouraged, or if you’re editing yourself you’re meant to take 6 weeks since your last writing or reading of the whole thing. 6 weeks is enough time for the details to dull in your mind and chances are you’ll forget a lot that you wrote, and so you’ll experience it much more like an actual reader would. So like I said, don’t despair. Take it easy on the red pen. I suggest doing first edits on just spelling and grammar and ignoring all else, then taking another long pause from editing, and that should give you the distance you need. Also beta readers are a wonderful resource – utilize them!

I think I’ll do a follow up post on this later, more uplifting points, but I’m a bit short on time at the moment. But these were the three biggies when it comes to self-doubt that I’ve experienced anyway. Keep them in mind when you next despair over the quality of your work. I can almost guarantee you’re making it out to be worse than it is. The best thing you can do is get betas on that. Even if they have criticism, you can use it to improve your book to make it into the masterpiece that will make the next-gen writers doubt themselves – but that’s a story for another day.

Til next time.

Vanessa

Voice

Hello readers! Vanessa here. A bit late but if you recall from my laaaaaast post I predicted that would happen what with Christmas craziness and such. And let’s face it, compared to my typical lateness I’m still in the realms of being on time.

So today dear readers I’m here to discuss a common question among authors, new authors especially, that for some reason just seems to escape understanding. I’m going to talk about voice.

I don’t mean your character’s voice, and I believe we’ve discussed that before (how to make it easy to differentiate between multiple different POVs and not making them all sound the same). No, I mean your voice as an author. This is kind of tough to explain and even more so to comprehend. I’m having difficulties wording it for you. After all, writers are hounded to try and sell that this is a real character narrating a real story so that their audience gets lost in the pages and gives all their money. This IS important. But in trying to hammer that message home another is often lost. It is vital that there be an underlying unique tone to the book only attributed to this particular author (you lot).

Let’s get real; the chances of getting published are slim. Everything’s been done so the bar has been raised exponentially. Authors have attempted their whole lives and never broken into the market (I’m not trying to dissuade you all from your dreams… instead, work harder to improve your craft!) For arguments sake, say you WERE published. You got the call, freaked out, signed the contract, all that jazz… and then your book never really gets known. People rarely think about AFTER publication. Even once you beat the odds and a company decides to take on your book there are already thousands of books in existence you must compete with. A book could be just lovely but if the style isn’t memorable you won’t remember the author’s name and odds are they’ll never meet true success. Yours will be lost among the piles and piles of good but ultimately non-memorable novels.

It’s kind of like how artists stylize their work. There are artists who, when drawing in their own way, produce something no one else can really replicate. You can look at it and recognize it as theirs right away. Same for writing. Something about your work needs to set you apart and make you instantly recognizable, regardless of what book it is. You could write many very different books with very different characters but you can still have a distinct voice.

A prime example of a really really recognizable voice would be Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. If you’ve read even one book you’d remember his style in a moment. It’s so unique I can’t even describe it for you guys. Another good example would be Doctor Seuss; the unmistakable silliness and flawless rhyme scheme is entirely his own. You could pick up any of his stories and know instantly it’s Doctor Seuss. This is what I mean by voice. Once you’ve been published being memorable is a crazy important thing. It gets you out there, gets you known. That’s what gets the ball rolling.

Now there’s no real right way to go about finding your personal voice. The point is to be all your own, after all. Some go about it with an odd or funny narration throughout the book (Lemony Snicket). Others have gorgeous imagery and a unique way of describing things that sets them apart (Maggie Steifvater is a good one for this, I love her description). Others have intense world building like George R. R. Martin or J. K. Tolkien, or they always have wondrous characters. Some use a unique combination of these elements to give themselves a distinct sound.

Above all, don’t worry. No one starts off with a beautiful voice that floats off the page. It’s honestly kind of a trial and error thing. Most voices develop after several failed or abandoned projects, and most are centered on things the author is either naturally better at or enjoys reading themselves. For me it’s generally flawed, realistic characters and heavier description. I love reading AND writing it.

Next time you pick up a book by a famous author, maybe your favourite, consider why you like THEM so much in particular. Go through several of their books and try to distinguish the common voice between them.

Til next time.

Vanessa

Fangirl… Monday

Sorry I hesitated on the title, I’m not in school right now so I forgot what day it was. Anyhow, I know it isn’t Friday for the classic fangirlish posts but Friday is Christmas and I had an urge, so may as well get it written now. I’ll forget otherwise.

We haven’t had a Time Travel Thursday in awhile either, so let’s combine that too.

That was what we writers call foreshadowing, lovelies.

So, the Doctor Who finale just aired. It was a two-parter following – SPOILERS AHEAD – the very prolonged (if you ask me) death of Clara.

I’m going to discuss only the first part. I wasn’t so much a fan of the second… after the first, it was a bit of a letdown to me. But let’s begin, shall we?

So to sum up, the doctor was sent to this mysterious place he’s never seen through a teleport pod. He steps out, remembers Clara’s last moments (She’s dead, let’s get on with it! I would have been okay with it if they didn’t take like 96585839 years to get through her goodbyes) then spouts this very classic dark doctor speech about how he’ll find whoever was responsible, yada yada. The intro didn’t do much for me. I guessed it would just be a massive vengeance trip.

So then as the doctor tries to deduce his way out of the mysterious castle (there’s a very old portrait of Clara, muddy shovels, etc) he discovers that there is an incredibly creepy veiled figure stalking him, and it lets him see its stalking him through well-placed monitors on the wall. A bit horror movie for Doctor Who, I thought, but beats the more comical/cheesy villains they’ve been showcasing like the ones made of the sleep from peoples’ eyes. I liked the change in mood.

It stalks him to a room, he’s trapped, throws a chair out the window and jumps. Now this is certain death because the castle is enormous and very high above some lake. Suddenly he bursts in the Tardis asking if someone wants to know how he escaped. (There is a figure in the corner that looks like Clara with her back to us, which was a red flag). Turns out he hasn’t escaped yet. He’s still falling. He’s in the Tardis in his mind and is going to figure out a plan through bragging to Clara what he has done/will do. So it flashes to all the things he did in the room while stalling the creature and how it all had a purpose. Discovering the rate of gravity by dropping petals, he listened to the chair falling for an idea of how far the fall was, etc. Pretty clever. So we’re flashing between him falling and him in his mind. The hit of the water knocked him out, so we were watching him in the mind-tardis and the figure of Clara was writing things on a random blackboard to motivate him and finally he awoke and swam up.

Now this whole scene had a distinctly when-Sherlock-was-shot feel about it with the mind palace and requiring people he knew to tell him what to do to survive. It could be criticized that Moffat is running out of material, but I didn’t mind. They were beautifully done scenes and fit with the smart characters.

I won’t continue to narrate all the scenes, just the important ones. He sees the stars at night and gets all pissy because “someone has moved the stars”. It looks like he’s travelled 7000 years in the future but he knows he hasn’t.

He discovers that the creature only stops if he makes confessions he has never said before and realizes that what the faceless villain wants is to know about “the hybrid”. He doesn’t tell.

He finally comes to a room with a massive wall of some material I forget what it’s called, but its way thicker than diamonds. The creature is lurching up behind him, ever slowly, and the doctor starts punching the wall. He doesn’t stop, even as the creature reaches him, puts its hands on him, and I think it burned him? I was a bit iffy there. But then it disappears. The doctor is clearly dying but he struggles his way back to the escape pod. In his thoughts he’s narrating.

Each room he’s been to has reset to how he got to it, which should include the teleport. The teleport should have a copy of himself exactly as he arrived. It just needs juice, energy, to boot up. With his failing strength he attaches electrodes to himself and starts the machine. It kills him, burns him up, but the teleport starts back up and a brand new copy of the doctor appears in the pod… and gives the same vengeance speech again. You realize he didn’t travel 7000 years in the future. He’s just been doing the same things over and over for a very long time.

It starts replaying all the same things over and over faster and faster in flashes, and each time he says how it looks like he’s travelled in time but longer. 10 000 years. 12 000. 50 000. 1 000 000. All the way up to 4 000 000. I wondered, how do you break such a loop? How can he possibly? But you begin to notice each time he gets to the diamond wall, there’s a dent forming. HE’S PUNCHING THROUGH IT. It’s taking millions of years and probably trillions of times through all the same events, but he’s slowly making his way through.

Finally, finally, he does break through. The bright light burns the creature up as it was coming up behind him, and alas the doctor steps through the opening to… drum roll please… Gallifrey.

That’s basically it because it’s a two-parter.

My thoughts:

I adored this episode. I’ve been a bit indifferent to the past season of doctor who, even in Matt Smith’s last episodes. And it isn’t the doctor himself. I adored Smith and I do like Capaldi’s delivery most of the time. Honestly, the problem is Clara. I never liked her much. She always seemed entitled and bossy and I never understood the Doctor’s undying love for her. I never connected the way I had with past companions. I tried really hard to like her. I liked the “Impossible Girl” plotline, but that finished and with it so did my small level of interest in her. As time went on it felt like it focused too much on Clara. The Doctor felt like the companion almost. But I loved this episode. And this was for a number of reasons but mostly it’s that it was the first one without Clara, excepting her tiny moments in the mind-tardis. This episode was entirely the doctor being clever. And I’ve MISSED that so much. THAT’S what’s been lacking for me.

My only criticism – there’s the Sherlock thing, but that didn’t bug me or upset my watching of the episode – would be that if all the rooms reset, wouldn’t the diamond wall room reset too?

But that’s all.

This was the best episode I’ve seen in a long time.

Watch it and see, if I haven’t spoiled it.

Til next time.

Vanessa