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Somewhere over the rainbow?

I spent most of this weekend watching series three of Dr. Who. The production values are much better in this new series than in the old one, but I also see a real improvement in story telling. I think one reason I enjoy it so much is the characters are well drawn; the companions (even the Runaway Bride) are substantial people who are not just along for the ride. But also, I think the fact that clearly, the series is written as a series, with an overarching story arc, really makes it easier for a viewer to get sucked into the stories. Thus, things happen in episode 1 that have an impact on events in later episodes.

I also read an interesting interview with Lois McMaster Bujold in which she talks about writing books in a long story arc. She mentions that one reason she doesn't like to write in a traditional "series" format (i.e, with the same characters) is that the "...readers only have to live closely with the characters for the day or two it takes to read the novel: I have to keep them stuffed in my head for a year."

So, the appeal of the long story arc allows the writer to build depth into characters, but too much depth can lead to author burnout. Bujold solves that problem by reusing the world but varying the cast. In Dr. Who, the writers can vary the Doctor's companion and even the Doctor himself. After all, he changes personality when he regenerates into a new body.

Bujold works in novels, and the Dr. Who writers in TV episodes, but it's all still story telling. Fun for the reader/watcher, and fun for the story teller!

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