Monday, May 2, 2011

Fear of the Unknown

Do you watch DOCTOR WHO? If not, please get on that now, kthx.

For those who haven't yet discovered the Doctor, here's a super brief run-down. Actually--let me let Neil Gaiman tell you about it:

There’s a big blue box. It’s bigger on the inside than the outside. It can go anywhere in space and time, sometimes where it is supposed to go. Something will go wrong, and there’s some bloke called The Doctor who’ll make it all right because he’s awesome. Now sit down, shut up and watch Blink.

Which does pretty much sum up the wonderfulness of this show. A lot of people get intimidated by DOCTOR WHO because there seems to be so much you have to catch up on in order to watch it. Honestly? You could start with last season (the season that starts with Matt Smith) and be fine. Although, like Gaiman, I do think you'd be missing out if you missed the episode entitled "Blink."

So: the short of it is that this show is amazing, and you should definitely watch it.

But that's not my point with today's post. Today, I want to talk about this:

The season opener and the sequel to it aired recently, and I still can't get over how awesome it all was. I'm going to try to not spoil anything because I know several of you don't get BBC or BBCA and have to watch the series on Netflix.

The monster of the week was that ugly mother up above, known as the Silence. And I don't want to tell you what he does...but it's terrifying. Truly scary. I was on the edge of my seat last night, watching the episode, and I truly didn't know what was going to happen next.

DOCTOR WHO is a show that can be funny and tragic at the same time, romantic and adventurous, and, yes, horrifying. The brilliance of the show lies in the way it blends genres--you never know if you're going to get a love story or if by the end of the episode you're going to be curled up on the couch weeping.

But for me, the best episodes are the ones that scare me. That make me afraid to turn around, that make me reach for the light in the middle of the night.

This has got me thinking about what fears us, and what drives a story forward. A story needs a conflict, and when that conflict is something terrifying, the emotions are ramped up even more.

I am working now on a story--it's just an idea, but I'd like to turn it into a book. But while I have an idea for a resolution, I still need a big bad. I've asked many of my friends: "What scares you the most?" And most of the answers have been spiders or public speaking or something like that. I've been brainstorming ideas, and I thought about the reason why the monster on DOCTOR WHO always tend to be so frightening.

It's because they're unknown.

Our most basic fear is the thing that goes bump in the night. We know this as children. We turn the night light on and ask our parents to check under the bed. But when we grow up, we learn to tell ourselves there's nothing there. No monster in the closet, no reason for the nightlight.

DOCTOR WHO goes back to the thing that goes bump in the night. And when you turn the lights on, it shows you the monster you thought wasn't there.

So that's what I'm doing now, as I brainstorm a new book idea. I'm figuring out what's hiding in the dark.
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