The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Angel Eyes (Extended Remix)

Today, I proudly present a 'deleted scene' from my Doctor Who novel Touched By An Angel, published earlier this year by BBC Books. Though it's not so much a deleted scene as a heavily-edited scene; when writing, my approach is always to over-write and then cut down to length.

This scene was edited down for three reasons. 1) It was too long 2) It was telling the reader stuff they already knew, or didn't need to know and 3) One of my 'read-through' critics thought the Doctor sounded like David Tennant. The third is a particular problem with spin-off media; while on television, Matt Smith can turn a David Tennant-y line into a Matt Smith-y line, in books and comic strips, the reader is imagining the character's voice based on cues in the text alone, so the writer must not only avoid writing out-of-character dialogue, but keep on re-emphasizing the actor's voice through the dialogue.

Anyway, here it is. Beginning of chapter 6. All the cut material is the stuff not in italics.

12 June 1994

‘So what exactly are these Weeping Angels?’ asked Mark.

The Doctor sliced his sausage and skewered it with his fork. But rather than eating it, he jabbed it in the air for emphasis. ‘The most malevolent creatures in the history of the universe,’ he said. ‘Nothing gives them greater pleasure than to watch a lesser species suffer. And to them, we are all lesser species.’

‘And they feed by sending people back in time?’

‘Usually.’ The Doctor ate the sausage. ‘But these Angels are different.’

‘A different variety,’ explained Amy helpfully.

‘They feed not on potential time, but time paradoxes. The consequences of irresponsible time travel.’ The Doctor raised his eyebrows at Mark reprovingly.

‘So,’ said Rory. ‘If somebody travelled back and killed their own grandfather - ‘

‘Their idea of a snack,’ said the Doctor. ‘Unless, of course, you killed your own grandfather after he’d met your grandmother and conceived one of your parents, in which case it would just be a horrible thing to do. What is it with time travellers and grandfathers?’

‘But any change, any change at all -‘ said Mark.

‘Well, the bigger the better, obviously. The more potential ramifications. Ramifications, love that word. Rory, could you write it down for me?’

‘Still not your secretary,’ Rory reminded him.

‘Vacancy’s still open.
The more ramifications, and, of course, the more paradoxical it is, the better.’

‘The more paradoxical?’ said Amy, sipping her orange juice.

‘The more it violates the normal laws of cause and effect. The universe doesn’t like that, you see. Result - release of vast amounts of time energy. Like blowing up a balloon and popping it. And that’s what you are, Mark.’

‘What, a balloon?’

‘Okay, metaphor doesn’t quite make sense.’ The Doctor squirted more brown sauce over his fried egg and swirled it in the mix. He ate breakfast as though it was a laboratory experiment. ‘That’s the trouble with metaphors. I would’ve gone with “pustule” but, you know, eating.’

Amy winced. ‘So where do these Angels come from?’

‘The Angels are an incredibly ancient race, born during the chaos of the primal universe. The stuff of legend. Regarding these particular Angels... many years ago there was a war, a terrible war between beings that had mastered time. A war waged using history itself, each side re-writing the past. Some races got caught in the crossfire. There were stories of abominations, of whole species transformed into the stuff of nightmares... but some races survived. Some thrived. The result of a million years of evolution in a matter of seconds. My guess is that these Weeping Angels are the remnants of one such race. A race forged in the crucible of war, adapted to life within a temporal schism.’

‘So what are they doing on Earth?’

‘Starving to death. Which makes them even more dangerous.’

‘Sorry,’ said Rory. ‘Why are they starving to death again?’

‘Because, Rory, they’ve evolved to feed on time paradoxes. Which have been rather thin on the ground since the war ended.’ The Doctor gazed into the distance, haunted by a memory. For a few moments, they all sat in silence in the hotel restaurant, the only sound an occasional clatter of cutlery from the kitchen.

‘Which is why,’ announced the Doctor. ‘Which is why we have to take you home, Mark Whitaker.’

‘But if the Angels want a paradox,’ said Amy. ‘Why go to all the trouble of bringing Mark here in the hope he changes history? Why not just do it themselves?’

‘Because that would make them part of the paradox. They need someone to do their dirty work for them so they remain external to the chain of events.’

‘What if I don’t want to go back?’ said Mark.

‘Not an option,’ said the Doctor, wiping his hands and rising to his feet. ‘Look. You’ve had some fun, a chance to relive the good old days, but now the trip’s over.’

Rory and Amy both got out of their seats, as a hint to Mark that he should move. He stayed put. ‘What if can’t go back?’

‘What do you mean, “can’t”?’

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