Sunday, July 12, 2009

Stepping back

--Update from 2014 at the end of the post--

Before I start, this post - and every post on here, and anything I say on Twitter, or anywhere else - is entirely MY opinion. Nothing to do with the people I've worked with, or the BBC, or anyone else. I don't speak for any other writers, I *only* speak for myself, and I will not pass on any messages to anyone.

Here's my position: I'm not going get into any more discussions or debates about what happened in Torchwood this week (being vague, in case people come across this and haven't seen it). Not now, not in the future.

Why? I started trying to discuss it, but swiftly realised that it was pointless. It simply turns into "No it isn't" / "Yes it is", and there's no way I can win the argument, because in certain people's opinion, I am wrong, and that's the end of it. And it's all just opinion anyway. It would also feel like I was trying to justify the show, and I'm not doing that. I have absolutely no need to. The show is the show. Whether you like it or dislike it, that's up to you.

I helped plot the whole storyline, and I stand by every single decision. Yes, including *that* one - I had my hand on the death lever along with everyone else, and was fully involved. I think it's a fantastic, brave, challenging drama, and contains some of the best moments on TV all year.

I've received over a thousand messages from viewers talking about the show. The vast majority have been extremely positive. Even though many of them are upset, angry and shocked, they have managed to express that without making it personal. So to you, I'm extremely grateful. I'm glad you liked the show, and love that it made you respond so strongly. I can't reply to everyone, it'd take weeks, so please accept my thanks.

But the rest of the messages? Unacceptable. Some have been spewing insults and passive aggressive nonsense. Accusing me of deliberately trying to mislead, lie, and hurt people. Telling me I hate the fans, that I'm laughing at them, that I used them, that I'm slapping people in the face, that I've "killed" the show, that I'm a homophobe, that I want to turn the fanbase away and court new, "cooler" viewers, even that I'm hurting depressed people with dark storylines. Asking me to pass on vitriolic, hateful messages to people I love and respect.

Not cool.

These are all things that nobody would dare to say to me in person. But on the internet, it's easy for them to fire off these things. Forgetting that at the other end is me, a real person, someone who has been nothing but open and friendly. But I've been a bit too open, a bit too nice, a bit too willing to explain the thought process behind story decisions. And some people are taking advantage of that, or misinterpreting what it means.

So here's the deal: I'm a professional writer. That's my job. I write what I write, for whatever the project might be. I have the utmost respect for you, and honestly want you to like my work, but I can't let that affect my story decisions. Everybody wants different things from a story, but this is not a democracy, you do not get to vote. You are free to say what you think of my work, even if you hate it, I honestly don't mind. But the ONLY person I need to please is myself, and the ONLY thing I need to serve is the story. Not you. I will do my work to the very best of my ability, in an attempt to give you the best show, the best movie, the best story, the best entertainment I possibly can. Even if that means that sometimes, I'll do things you won't like. I won't debate it. Either you go along with it, or you don't. None of it is done to hurt you, or to force some agenda down your throat, or anything else. It's all in service of the story.

When I started this blog, I wanted to give some insight into the writing process. I've done that. I've answered all the questions, written about the process, done several huge posts trying to pass on what I've learned. The posts are all still there, and will remain there. I've had great fun with it, and given as much as I can, but it's never going to be enough. For a while now, I've let things get too cosy here, indulged myself too much, and if I let it carry on, it will affect my work. The last few days have just confirmed that for me. So I'm going to step back and take an extended break from it. Things are very busy for the next month or two, and I won't have the time anyway. I'm extremely grateful to everyone who has commented on here, and if the blog continues at a later date, it will be limited to anything that isn't about the work - announcements, TV/movie recommendations, etc. I have to concentrate on my writing.

And I will not put up with any more abusive messages, or threats, or accusations, or attempted guilt trips. So while I completely understand your pain at some of the events in the series, that does not give you the right to insult me. Talk about the *work*, all you want. But lay off the person behind the work. Because I'm simply trying to tell you good stories. In the end, that is all I can do.

James Moran

Please feel free to pass this on, I encourage you to do so, to make my position clear to everyone - but you must include the link to the full post here:

Update from 2014: This post keeps getting linked to quite a lot, so for those who've just found this - I reactivated the blog in April 2010, with comments turned off. I'm still updating it fairly regularly. This post was written at a time when things were very hectic and unpleasant, but staying away for a while seemed to let the dust settle. It feels strange looking back at it now. Anyway. Just wanted to do a tiny update for people just coming across the tale, so you know it all ended well.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Torchwood. Children of Earth. Day Five.

Day Five.

(Note: this was written before the online stuff happened, will do a full blog post over the weekend addressing it, and what I think, and responding to everyone.)

All hope is lost. Is this the end? Today's nuggets: mild, vague spoiler for yesterday's episode - I helped come up with the reason why they wanted the gift (you know what I mean), and explained what I meant by describing how foie gras is made (look it up, it's horrendous). As for tonight's episode - in the very first storyline meeting, we went through several different versions of the ending before settling on this, and then it changed again. And it's not going to end the way you think.

Good old Broadcast, taking the tiny drop between eps 1 and 2, and spinning it into "OMG TOUCHINGWOOD IS D00MZ0R3D". Every series drops off after the first one, even stripped ones - Criminal Justice lost 700,000 after ep1, but that's normal. Torchwood's smaller drop was actually pretty cool. Unless you're Broadcast. No sign of the "Torchwood leaps back up to 5.9m" story on their site, maybe I'm not looking in the right place. Also, 6.4 million for last night's episode, it went up even higher, which is pretty fantastic.

Don't forget, there'll be spoilers in the comments, so if you haven't seen the episode, don't read the comments. And remember, the Americans and Canadians don't get the show until the 20th, so please don't drop massive spoiler bombs where they can't avoid seeing them (like in your public Twitter feed). Be considerate!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Torchwood. Children of Earth. Day Four.

Day Four.

Shocking revelations, and much more. Today's nuggets: you'll see the object that I was brought into a room to see when I was on set, the object that horrified me and made me wonder if we would actually get away with this. You'll know it when you see it, it's during a scene where you find out the reason for something. This scene was going to be in episode 3, but would have meant too much exposition/delay in the middle of the cliffhanger, so got moved here.

As for last night's overnight figures: 5.9 million viewers. Holy fuckbum titspangling cockbananas. Normally there's a gradual drop off as a series goes on, as viewers forget it's on, or drift away. This is fucking incredible. I'm so, so chuffed and proud. Audience appreciation index was 90, which is fantastic.

Thank you everyone for the amazing response to yesterday's episode - comments, Tweets, emails, and so on - I'm gobsmacked yet again at how cool you all are. I really do get nervous before anything of mine airs, you never know if it just won't catch the audience in the right way, if everyone will hate it. I knew it was a solid, cracking episode, and thankfully, most people seemed to really go for it. I had 100 replies on Twitter, mostly between 10.00pm and 10.09pm. As I was reading those, another 37 came in. As I was reading *those*, another 19 came in. And they kept coming in, it was amazing. I tried to reply to as many questions as possible, but had to stop around midnight, I was knackered. Sorry if I didn't reply to you, but I really appreciate every single comment, thank you so much. This morning, another 70 replies! Blimey, I love Twitter.

Don't forget, there'll be spoilers in the comments, so if you haven't seen the episode, don't read the comments. And remember, the Americans and Canadians don't get the show until the 20th, so please don't drop massive spoiler bombs where they can't avoid seeing them (like in your public Twitter feed). Be considerate!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Torchwood: Children of Earth. Day Three.

Day Three.

Blimey - overnights for last night's second episode: 5.6 million. The first day was 5.9 million, and you'd normally expect a big drop after the first episode, every new season is the same, but this is incredible. Thank you all for staying with it, I'm so excited.

Hello! Today's nuggets: to those who have asked about the shared credit, me and Russell are both credited tonight - I did five drafts of the script while he did episode 1, and then he took ep3 from there for the final draft. I'll talk more about the writing process once it's all over, if people have more questions. There's also an interview with me here at Den of Geek, in which I explain a bit more about the writing process.

Bonus nuggets: This episode was also the first time ever I'd written a specific kind of thing - it disappeared later, as the subplot changed location, but it was still a first for me. I'll say what it was in the comments after the episode. Also, the team are forced to do something they've never done before. And I come up with a creative solution for a clothing difficulty. Oh, and watch out for the chopping board, in one of my favourite scenes.

One last nugget, which I'll leave you to ponder, it's not spoilery because I refuse to explain it: "The Hub 2". And no, it's not what you think.

But for now - something is coming...

Don't forget, there'll be spoilers in the comments, so if you haven't seen the episode, don't read the comments. And remember, the Americans and Canadians don't get the show until the 20th, so please don't drop massive spoiler bombs where they can't avoid seeing them (like in your public Twitter feed). Be considerate!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Torchwood: Children of Earth. Day Two.

Day Two.

5.9 million viewers for last night's episode, which is REALLY good news - and that's just the overnight figures, not taking into account HD or BBC3 viewers, or iPlayer, or Sky+ recordings, so it'll go up even more when the numbers are all crunched. Viewing figures actually went up during the episode, too. Let's hope we can keep hold of as many viewers as possible, so keep watching.

Hope you enjoy tonight's cracking episode from John Fay, as the story continues. Today's nuggets: potatoes play a very significant role at a crucial moment. As does a hearse. And I predict the internet will *explode* when you see a certain something through a security camera feed. Enough! I say no more! Enjoy the show!

Don't forget, there'll be spoilers in the comments, so if you haven't seen the episode, don't read the comments. And again, the lovely Americans and Canadians won't officially get this season until the 20th of July, so PLEASE try not to spoil in Twitter posts - I don't mean you can't talk about it, but don't just post huge spoilers that will, well, spoil the surprise of the show for them. It's not fair to them, they're trying to stay spoiler free. Thank you.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Torchwood: Children of Earth. Day One.

Day One.

When every single child on Earth stops, Torchwood is thrown into a world of terror.

Just in case you've missed all my blog posts, Twitter mentions, the Radio Times pullout cover, the Telegraph article, the covers of several magazines, the trailers, the TV ads... Torchwood Children of Earth starts today, at 9pm on BBC One.

It's a big, 5 part story, so you'll have to watch the whole thing. If you miss an episode, then it won't make sense. My one is on Wednesday, but you should be watching them all.

And as usual, the pre-broadcast nerves spring into action. They never trouble me until the day before it's on, then suddenly they arrive. We've all been working on it for so long, and are all so proud of what we've achieved, we haven't really had time to think about anything else. But what if everyone hates it? You never, EVER know if something is going to go down well or not. It's worse this time, because I haven't simply done an episode - I'm one of only three writers, and we (me, Russell, John Fay, with the producer, director, script editor, and Julie Gardner) storylined the whole thing, working out the entire plot in a room in Cardiff. There are bits from all of us in every single episode. So I'm partly responsible for the whole thing this time, which scares me a bit.

I'm not fishing for compliments or sympathy here. I genuinely never know if anyone's going to like something. I do the job to the best of my ability, but you still just don't know. But we've made what we think is a damn good show, and really hope you enjoy it.

There's an interview with me over at Den of Geek, in which I talk about the show and a bit more about the writing process - don't worry, there are no spoilers.

I'll do a mini post every day for each episode, with a small nugget of info each time, so feel free to comment and say what you think. Like or dislike, I'm a grown up and honestly don't mind, but let's keep it civil. Also, if you haven't seen the episode and come here after the fact? There will be spoilers in the comments. Be warned.

See you tonight, for episode one, "Day One" - it begins. Today's nugget of info: we'll meet a hitch hiker, but not the sort that thumbs for lifts. And the sentence "We are coming" - that's not the whole sentence. There's more, which you'll find out at the end of the episode...

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Twitter caption competition results

Okay, the Twitter caption competition results are in! Sorry it took so long, but there were well over 300 entries, and the judging panel had to read through them all. The competition was simple - come up with a caption for this photo:

There were lots of jokes about beaming up, and lots about me looking up skirts and kilts. You must all think I'm a Star Trek-obsessed pervert who likes copping sneaky looks at genitalia. You know me better than I realised. A lot of you went for the redecoration angle, there were several superglue gags, and lots of me being horrified by sexual antics out of shot. The most frequent captions involved me getting shat on by Myfanwy, which is clearly something most of you want to happen. I'm taking it as a compliment.

But we narrowed down the entries, until a few rose above the rest. The runners up, who get nothing but the glory of coming OH SO CLOSE:

BinkyBird: James was begining to wonder if he'd misunderstood Jack's instruction to "head for the other entrance"

psycicflower: James was taking extreme precautions to make sure he never heard the question 'When does the new series of Torchwood start?' again.

KGaleway: "New rule, no antigravity clamps during naked hide and seek."

And finally, the winning caption:

Andrew_Taylor: "If Microsoft Voice-Activated Teleporter 2009 is working, I should be arriving in Florida any second. Touch wood."

It's funny, it's clever, and it's still making me laugh. Well done, Andrew Taylor, you may nominate yourself or a personage of your choice to be named and possibly shamed, maimed or killed in the next thing of mine that gets made or published. It may be a TV/film project, it might be a short story, but either way, your chosen name will be in there. Email me (link in the sidebar) with your chosen name, and the address you want the signed copy sent to when it comes out.

In fact, because I'm feeling generous, I will also use the chosen names of the above runners up - BUT, Andrew will be first, and only he gets the signed copy of whatever it is. It may be a little while before you runners up get your names in something, so be patient. Send me your chosen names now, and I'll use them when I can. Sorry to those of you who didn't win, but don't worry, I'll have another competition at some point, because it's good fun.

Thank you to everyone who entered, you're all funny, clever, and brilliant. And filthy.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Telegraph article by me

Just a reminder that tomorrow's Telegraph TV Magazine (it comes with the newspaper) features an article by me, all about the Torchwood Children of Earth writing process, with a few other random digressions. I believe it'll be mentioned on the front cover, which is very exciting.

Update! It's also now online, so you can read it right here, without having to leave the house.

And another reminder that the new series starts on Monday at 9pm on BBC1, although I'm sure you all probably know that by now. Yes.

Update: Didn't realise, but this was my 500th post! Blimey. That's a lot of nonsense over the past 6 years. You may celebrate in your own way, or not at all, whatever you prefer. I'm a benevolent dictator.