If you watch Doctor Who or Sherlock or both, this name strikes fear into your heart and makes you run for the nearest tissue box. For those of you who don’t know, Steven Moffat is the head writer of Doctor Who and the co-creator of Sherlock, two of the BBC’s most popular shows. No matter how you feel about the characters he’s tossed off buildings and killed off (multiple times), Moffat is a fantastic writer. Most of my favorite Doctor Who episodes were written by this man, and I felt like it was time to learn more about him. Don’t worry, no characters were killed in the making of this post. 😉
Steven Moffat was born on November 18th in Scotland. He was a childhood fan of Doctor Who and an avid reader of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Moffat said in an interview, “I never really had any other ambition and I was always very clear that I wanted to be a scriptwriter.” His first big writing break was when he became head writer on Press Gang. He went on to work on several comedies such as Joking Apart and Coupling. After Coupling was canceled, Moffat was offered a job writing for Doctor Who. “Blink,” a Doctor Who episode featuring the famous Weeping Angels, won several awards for Best Writer, Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, and Best Screenwriter. Moffat went on to become the head writer of the show in 2008 and started working on Sherlock in 2009.
I found an interview from the BBC Writersroom where Steven Moffat talked about writing. I loved the interview. He had lots of great writing advice, and I enjoyed hearing about where and how he writes his amazing scripts! You can find that interview here.
I thought I’d include some of Moffat’s writing advice:
“Write. Write lots. Don’t ask for advice, just write. And read the kind of stuff you want to write, because that’s the only advice that matters. If it’s screenplays, read William Goldman’s – he know EVERYTHING.”
“No writer truly stays focused, all day, every day…. Two or three hours will pass and I’ll have done nothing: not even had a useful thought!”
“Just write. The big break is easy if you’re good enough. I hear people saying, ‘I’m desperate to write – I’ve written this script.’ And I want to say: ‘Why haven’t you written 50 scripts?’… You have to write all the time and not worry so much about going to the right parties or the contacts you have in the business – they’re completely irrelevant. And stop badgering people for advice because there almost is none – If you write a truly brilliant script, it will get on the telly.”
“Every writer writes about what they’ve personally been through, just because that’s what’s to hand. I don’t know if it’s an important rule of thumb – you should tell the story that most animates you.”
“No one is that self-assured when they’re writing, or that assured about their writing. There’s no experience worse than handing your script in, and waiting.”
Thanks for reading!