Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What Dr Who’s Scarf Taught Me about Writing

I thought I was a geek until my mum told me she’s knitting a Dr Who scarf for her niece. She showed me the wads of research she had to do to get the colours, length, ply, pattern and style of the scarf right. Apparently there are devotees who’ve done even more research into this 70s icon from Tom Baker’s Dr Who.

The various versions of the scarf have special names. In some seasons it was longer than in others. The longest version was actually three scarves sewn together with one of the portions sewn on back-to-front by mistake. The production’s costume designers had to patch it many times. The tassels were worn to threads.

Because wool colours are seasonal, it’s actually difficult to find the authentic colours, so fans have written long essays on the colour descriptions and possible substitutes that can be used depending on what country you’re in.

I’m so impressed.

These people have a powerful passion for the show and so they take the extra effort to get the details right. Their homemade scarf wouldn’t be a worthy end-product if they’d put together any old colours and hoped for the best.

The same goes with writing. Our stories require a certain amount of devotion that most other people looking on might think is something shy of crazy. It’s all worth it in the end.

If you’re a fan of Dr Who, which Dr is your favourite? What lengths have you gone to that shows you’re a true fan of a series, movie, book, author or celebrity?

75 comments:

  1. I love scarf's especially since it's cold here 6 months out of the year. The more colorful, the better. I've never watched Dr. Who, but heard a lot about him. I better catch one of his episodes.

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  2. That is scary devoted. I'm a big fan of Firefly, Stargate, and Star Trek, but I could not tell you details such as that. I just enjoy.

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    1. Though I find those details fascinating, I'm the same as you. I simply enjoy. Heck, I can't even quote lines from my favourite shows (or if I try, then I get it wrong, lol)

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  3. You're so right about details, Lynda. It seems that when I read a book where the author has done her research, the book takes on an authenticity - it's part of the hook. Hope you're having a great winter!

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  4. That's authenticity! I love doing that kind of research. I'm not a huge Dr. Who fan, but, yeah, if I were I'd want THE scarf. :)

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  5. I'm a fan of scarves in the winter. Once my neck's warm, I'm fine. And the details are essential. Love those.

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  6. Not a Dr. Who fan, so didn't know about the scarf. I'm almost fanatical about getting the details right in my own work.

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  7. That's pretty cool! I'm a fan of several shows, but I have to say I never reached that level of fandom :)

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  8. Wow, I didnt even know Dr Who had a scarf. How cool that your mum is such a geek! I hope your neice likes it.

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  9. I've known some pretty hardcore fans. I love the show, but I'm not that particular. David Tennant is my Doctor.

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    1. hehe yep. Tom Baker was my favourite until David Tennant came along. Both are awesome.

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  10. I'm not big on the whole fandom thing. Not that I don't get obsessive about stuff. I just find that keeping it to myself makes me feel less crazy ;).

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  11. I know a Dr Who fan who'll be after your mum for that pattern!! (Charmaine) Yes, a rich novel has lots of thought and research and colour go into it. An exciting allusion!

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  12. This post makes me want a really cool scarf. :)

    Hang in there, Lynnie. No question it'll be worth it for you in the end. Go get 'em.

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  13. a different scarf for all seasons...a different idea for each wip...it's all relevant :)

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  14. I'm not really a Dr Who fan, except that I did watch the 80s version and loved it. And my friend who is a maaaaaad Dr Who fan and big into all that 'fandom' stuff has recently bought herself a Dr Who scarf. ;)

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    1. I bet your friend hopes for cold weather! ;)

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  15. Yay for Dr Who!! Totally have to admit that I like Matt Smith the best--he just appeals to me the most :) Though, really, I've loved all the Drs. I love that there is all this fun work on the scarves, that's just awesome. And so true about the details--it's all about the details!

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    1. I wonder what the new Doctor will be like...

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  16. That's the kind of fandom most writers would kill for!

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    1. Wouldn't that be seriously awesome????

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  17. I like Dr. Who, but I'm not a huge fan... but I do love wearing scarves:)

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  18. I've never been that kind of fan. I honestly don't understand that devotion. It's not like these stars/shows are curing cancer or inventing a way to get fresh water to the world's population. But I hope your mother has a good time getting everything right and your cousin enjoys wearing it. I have nothing against people having a good time! :-)

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  19. Tom Baker is one of my favourite Doctors! If I could knit well, and has the money for all the wool, I would have knitted a 4th Doctor scarf by now. XD

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    1. The fact you know Tom Baker is the 4th Doctor, tells me you are a true fan :)

      I got Tom Baker's autograph once. I stood in line for an hour when he visited Sydney. I was really young and could barely see over the top of the table, but I offered him a jelly bean. I'll never forget his smile.

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  20. Oh my!

    Dr Who's scarf - and Tom Baker mentioned in one sentence:)

    Boy, now I feel old (but warm and fuzzy inside:)

    And, of course, Tom Baker *is* Dr. Who. :)

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    1. The warm and fuzzy is the important bit ;)

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  21. Wow, they're like Trekkies! The only time I watched Dr. Who was when Tom Baker starred, so I'm partial to him. I'm not into the cult of celebrity, but back in 1974 I braved going to the Oakland Coliseum all by myself to see George Harrison in concert. It was a momentous occasion.

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  22. Dr. Who...that takes me back to my childhood.

    Great post! :)

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  23. Never watched Dr. Who!! But the scarf thing sure gives a clue ;)
    And you are so not a geek...might catch upon some Dr.Who's episode,might be this week!

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  24. That is epic devotion. I love Dr. Who but couldn't pick a favorite.

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  25. 'tis true, ya writers are crazy people :)
    I don't think I've ever had a fan obsession with anything in any ever remotely extreme way.

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    1. Oh, I think you have... you're my fan, right? ;)

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  26. I'm truly amazed that someone could be so dedicated to the show that they'd wand a Dr. Who scarf. I never really got into that show, but I'm always coming across references to it by people that are fans. Which says something about a good story and good characters, doesn't it! Would that we struggling writers could write a book with such power over the readers. :-)

    Good for your mum, though, knitting that scarf for her niece. Definitely an act of love.

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    1. This is where I have to admit that in my teens I wanted the Dr Who scarf as well.

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  27. I've watched a few Dr. Who shows but never saw a scarf. Clever tie-in to writing. :) Yes, some people really get into shows and books! Harry Potter, for instance. Star Wars, Star Trek. Twilight and Hunger Games.

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  28. I've never watched a single episode of Dr. Who. Weird, I know.

    :-D

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    1. get thee to a Dr Who DVD immediately! ;)

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  29. I made myself a Harry Potter Gryffindor scarf. :)

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  30. I have dressed as Bellatrix once or twice.

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    1. I had to look up Bellatrix (um-ah!!). I'd love to see a pic of you dressed up like that. Bet you looked awesome!

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  31. I used to watch the Tom Baker episodes with my brother. So I'd say he was my favorite.

    Umm, I stalk, ummm, follow, yeah follow gladiators on Twitter.

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  32. The lesson you took away was good. I can relate to that. Not so much the geekiness, though.

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  33. I'm not such a fan girl, of anything really. (Other than my family.) Granted, I read an author or book I adore, you're going to hear about it (along with the rest of the world), but there will be no stalker-ish behavior or obsessing over the details. At least, not out loud. ;)

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  34. I've never been interested in Dr. Who but fans of any show often enjoy doing their part to support it.

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  35. i grew up watching the old dr who and reading the books as well...i like your lesson in this...our stories but also our craft takes a certain amount of devotion for sure...

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  36. While I don't know much about Dr. Who and the scarves, I did like your comparison between the devotion to the scarves and the devotion needed in writing. Good post. Thanks!

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  37. Lynda, you are absolutely right, its all these details that make such a difference to everything we do: writing, knitting, cooking.... I am trying to get a little more detailed into my world building.

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  38. I keep hearing great things about that show. I really should get around to watching it sometime.

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  39. I love that your mom is knitting this scarf! Great example of historical accuracy and attention to detail!!!

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  40. So cool! My mom just had me watch the first couple of Dr. Who episodes. It's a fun show--I haven't gotten far into it yet.

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  41. Have to admit I've been curious about Dr. Who but have never watched the series. Your mom is pretty rad!
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  42. I have heard but have not watched any episodes of Dr Who.

    Great post,

    Nas

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  43. Great analogy Lynda!
    And it's so true that the beauty of the finished creation lies in the minute attention to detail.
    Writer In Transit

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  44. Great analogy & really cool scarf that your mom is knitting. I've heard good reviews about Dr. Who, but unfortunately I've never seen it.

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  45. I love the first two Doctors best - and I mean Hartnell and Troughton!
    I knit a Tom Baker scarf once... it wasn't horribly authentic, though and a friend has asked for a "real" one, so I'm looking forward to following all the rules this time.
    Great post!

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  46. Fans have written long essays on the colour descriptions and possible substitutes that can be used? Why doesn't that surprise me, Lynda? I think we all have our little passions (and big ones, too) that other find a waste of time. In my book, passion is always a good thing as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. Be passionate, people! It makes your life worthwhile even if you've spent half of it knitting a geeky scarf. To each their own.

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  47. People rave about Dr. Who. I have seen one or two shows in the past (long past), but I have not been a fan. Perhaps I should give the series a go.

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  48. I don't watch it myself, but I know sooo many people who do. Makes me smile, all this Dr. Who frenzie. lol And I now get the Dr. Who references in Anne McCaffrey's Freedom's landing series. lol

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  49. I've never made myself anything like that, but I love the idea of being captured by a show or book to do something like that.

    I've never seen Dr. Who.

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  50. LOL! What a wonderful post. My favs are Tom Baker and his penchant for jelly babies and also the charismatic and dynamic David Tennant.

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  51. I have been a fan of Dr Who since the moment I discovered the show. I think Tom Baker was the star of the first one I'd ever seen and it imprinted deeply. His scarf and flamboyant behavior made me want to jump into the nearest police box and discover the universes out there.

    A dream I'd still like to follow. :-)

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    1. Ah, if only such a police box existed!

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  52. That's amazing! He is actually my favorite Dr. Who. Good point about all the details and writing. Have a great week, Lynda!

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  53. What an interesting project! I never would have thought of it. This could really spark some ideas!

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  54. Love those colors! Getting the details right is what sets those scarves (and great writing) apart from the crowd.

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  55. Haha only a true Dr Who fan would go to such efforts... I don't think I've ever gone THAT far. I considered trying to mimic the hairstyle of Daenerys Targaryen from the Game of Thrones TV show, because she's my favourite character and people keep telling me I look like her (I so do not...), but my hair isn't quite long enough for it to look right haha. Love how much attention true fans will pay to detail though :)

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  56. Wow, that's dedication:) I had no idea people did that, but it does go to show you what people will do when they really like a story.

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  57. That is a crazy amount of devotion! I love Doctor Who, though I haven't seen the older ones. Love the way you tie in the passion we have for our writing.

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  58. I've watched some of the new Dr. Who, and it's definitely awesome! Haven't seen the old ones. Let's see, to prove I'm a great fan of someone - last month I waited for 8 hours to get Neil Gaiman to sign a book. That's devotion :)

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  59. I know what you mean. I've developed what can only be described as an obsession with tattoos, tattoo methods, and the use of tattoos as punishment ... all for what adds up to one small fictional detail. Ah well.

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