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Tuesday 5 February 2013

Silent Witness - Legacy

Spoilers here if you haven't seen the episodes yet, but below are links to some of the material that provided inspiration, background detail or information for last week's story.

A producer who should have known better once accused me of 'letting the tail wag the dog' in my insistence on the importance of research. Story research is important for at least two reasons; it provides unexpected inspiration, and it reduces the chances of your being stupid at the top of your voice.

It's not about an obsession with minutiae. Detail is rarely interesting for its own sake. And you'll never get it perfect, nor should you; we're not in the business of reproducing reality.

But I've worked on a few science-based projects now (and we're not counting BUGS here, that was fantasy technology). I've learned a few things as I've gone along:
  • It's OK to compress and exaggerate process, but never to falsify
  • You can use contentious notions, but don't embrace them - don't be a shill for bad science
  • Connect your ideas into a rough structure and then lay them before experts before you go any further
  • Where they point to flaws, don't try to disagree - you've just been handed a gift in the form of realistic obstacles to your story
  • Remake your structure by what you've just learned
These links don't represent the research. They're some of the elements that lodged in my mind, suggested the shape of a story, and began the research. A more comprehensive roundup would include the newspaper story of the man who took a loaded gun into an American ICU and kept staff and police at bay while he unplugged his infant son's life support and cradled him as he died.

The clipping's slipped away from me. The thought of it never will.

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