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:

Cathrina Constantine said...

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.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

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.

Victoria Lindstrom said...

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!

Luanne G. Smith said...

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. :)

cleemckenzie said...

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

Carol Kilgore said...

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.

Jemi Fraser said...

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

Unknown said...

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.

Christine Rains said...

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

J E Oneil said...

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 ;).

Denise Covey said...

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!

Suze said...

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.

Tammy Theriault said...

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

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

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

Trisha said...

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. ;)

Meradeth Houston said...

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!

Unknown said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Unknown said...

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! :-)

Intercostal Clavicle said...

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

Mark Koopmans said...

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. :)

Bish Denham said...

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.

Melissa said...

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

Great post! :)

Anonymous said...

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!

Southpaw said...

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

DEZMOND said...

'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.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

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.

Carol Riggs said...

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.

Misha Gerrick said...

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

:-D

Esther Jones said...

I made myself a Harry Potter Gryffindor scarf. :)

Theresa Milstein said...

I have dressed as Bellatrix once or twice.

M Pax said...

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.

Nana Prah said...

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

Crystal Collier said...

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. ;)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

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)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I'm having a COLD winter! ;)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I bet your friend hopes for cold weather! ;)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

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

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Wouldn't that be seriously awesome????

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

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.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

The warm and fuzzy is the important bit ;)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

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

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

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

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

get thee to a Dr Who DVD immediately! ;)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

see, now, that's awesome!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

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!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

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

Brian Miller said...

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...

Victoria Marie Lees said...

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!

Rachna Chhabria said...

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.

DWei said...

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

Kim Van Sickler said...

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

Cortney Pearson said...

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.

nutschell said...

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

Nas said...

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

Great post,

Nas

Michelle Wallace said...

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

Carrie Butler said...

Oo, nice tie-in! :)

Melissa Sugar said...

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.

Deniz Bevan said...

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!

Blue Grumpster said...

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.

JJ said...

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.

Weaver said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

scribbleandedit.blogspot.co.uk said...

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

emaginette said...

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. :-)

Connie Arnold said...

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

Karen Lange said...

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

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Well said, Blue!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Ah, if only such a police box existed!

Nicole said...

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

Bonnee Crawford said...

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 :)

Mark said...

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.

Shallee said...

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.

alexia said...

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 :)

Callie Leuck said...

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.