Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Defiance of Secrets

"Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead."
- Benjamin Franklin

"I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."
- Unknown

It seems to be a pretty consistent rule: the more people who know about something, the harder it is to keep more people from finding it out, while the fewer people who know about something, the easier it is.

But there's one secret that seems to defy this rule:

What is The Doctor's name? Doctor who?

But maybe it doesn't. Maybe that secret only seems to be well kept. I know, as a writer, if I want to avoid explaining something to the audience, I avoid the topic altogether; I don't come up with something to fill in the blank, I just leave it blank.

You can write stories without describing any of the characters, or without giving anybody a name, or without describing the setting. Where writing is about "show, don't tell," and you talk around any of those things without acknowledging that they're missing, and if you do it well enough, the audience won't notice they're missing.

I should know: I've done it.

If the Doctor had a name, and several people knew about it, it would have been leaked by now, I'm certain of that. That sort of thing can't be kept quiet, not as quiet as would be necessary.

I read a leaked first draft of Breaking Dawn. I found it online before it became an "open secret" (and I must say, the writing quality of my first drafts is far better quality than Ms Meyer's).

But I can come up with a way for it to work, for the secret to be kept without it defying this "Law of Secrets," and it's rather simple:

One can keep a secret, if he never thought it up in the first place.

What makes you think they've invented a name for the Doctor? Just because they've hinted that such a thing exists doesn't mean it actually does. I'm not saying the Doctor has no name, I'm just saying it hasn't been written yet. The easiest was to make an unsolvable mystery is to not make the answer. After that, it's just a matter of tricking your audience into believing that it's hidden somewhere, and they'll read into things where there's nothing to be read.

It's human nature to look for patterns, to seek order is chaos. Just because there isn't any order doesn't mean people will stop looking, it means they think you just outsmarted them and hid it somewhere they didn't think to look.

Or maybe his name is "Who." Did you ever think of that?

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