On Unwritten Scenes

I’ve had The Lord of the Rings on the brain of late, the proximate cause being the repeated e-mails I’ve received from GameStop telling me to come into a local store to pre-order Lord of the Rings: Conquest, which came out on Wednesday. And then, of course, there was my discovery that a new Tolkien book, a take on the Volsung saga he wrote in the 1920s, which contributed to my new inkling to think Middle-Earth.

Musing on this, I thought I would share a tangential anecdote.

My Doctor Who short story, “The Spindle of Necessity,” for Short Trips: The Quality of Leadership, involves the sixth Doctor and Plato of Athens going on a road trip in the ancient world. When I pitched the story, there was one scene in the story I was absolutely dying to write — Plato and the Doctor talk about Atlantis.

The reason should be obvious. Plato was the writer who introduced Atlantis to literature in his unfinished dialogue Critias. And for the Doctor, he was there when Atlantis fell (“The Underwater Menace,” “The Time Monster”). So, naturally, the Doctor and Plato could have absolutely brilliant conversations about Atlantis, right?


I never figured out, in writing the story, where the scene would go or how it would fit. I know, in my head, how their conversation went, with Plato incredulous that the Doctor would claim to have been at Atlantis when it sank beneath the waves. And the Doctor was going to suggest a history of Atlantis that was a mish-mash of Plato’s history and Tolkien’s account of Numenor. (I think the Doctor was going to namecheck Ar-Pharazon, but at this span I can’t remember.)

I had pages of notes on this. I read Lewis Spense’s The History of Atlantis.

I ended up going in such a different direction, that the story bypassed Atlantis completely. I don’t regret that little scenelet’s lack. Especially when I found so many other madcap things to write in that story. 🙂

Now, fair readers, you know. And you have a video game ad to thank. 😉

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