Writing Advice from Doctor Who

Please forgive my absence here on the blog. I’ve still been having problems with my foot (went for more x-rays today). During my recuperation, I’ve been travelling with the Doctor. My eyes have been opened to the wonders of the universe and beyond. I’d like to pretend I actually stepped foot inside the Tardis, alas, it isn’t so. Nay, my journey was only taken thanks to DVD and Netflix. Still, I learned much from the Doctor and have returned to share the writing knowledge.

The Doctor: “What’s wrong with being childish? I like being childish.”

What it means to writers: If we are writing for children, we need to access the child within.

The Doctor: “That was a nice nap, now down to business.”

What it means to writers: Sometimes we need to take a break—and it’s okay. We’ll come back better able to do what needs to be done.

The Doctor: “The best way to find out where you are from is find out where you are going and work backwards.”

What it means to writers: Know your ending. Even if you don’t have everything planned out, it’s helpful to know where you want the story to go. Once you know your ending, you can work backward to make sure you have the character development and story arc you need.

The Doctor: “First things first, but not necessarily in that order.”

What it means to writers: It doesn’t matter what writing method you use—as long as it works for you. You can write scenes out of order if you want.

The Doctor: “. . . The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Hey. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”

What it means to writers: Make sure your characters have a balance of good and bad things in their lives. It helps make them more real.

The Doctor: “You can’t rule the world in hiding. You’ve got to come out on the balcony sometimes and wave a tentacle.”

What it means to writers: You’re going to have to promote your work—no matter how shy/introverted you are.

The Doctor: “Oh, marvelous. You’re going to kill me. What a finely-tuned response to the situation.”

What it means to writers: Make sure our characters act and speak in believable ways. They need to respond to other characters actions and words appropriately.

The Doctor: “I always like to do the unexpected, it takes people by surprise.”

What it means to writers: Don’t be cliché.

The Doctor: “I think you’ll find, Sir, that I’m qualified to deal with practically everything, if I choose.”

What it means to writers: Write what you know—and know that you can write about anything you want to—just make sure you research the things you may not be as familiar with/knowledgeable about.

The Doctor: “I am the Doctor, whether you like it or not.”

What it means to writers: Be you. Don’t try to be like writer X. Some people will like your work, some people won’t, but be happy with what you’ve done!

The Doctor: “I was trying to help. Surely even a blockhead like you can see that!”

What it means to writers: Don’t be close minded when it comes to critiques. The critique is meant to help—but you have to let it.

The Doctor: “Don’t worry. I always leave things until the last moment.”

What it means to writers: We aren’t The Doctor. We don’t have a Tardis. We can’t go back in time. Therefore, leaving things to the last minute when we have a deadline isn’t a good idea.

The Doctor: “No, there’s something else going on here. I was taken out of time for another reason and I have every intention of finding out what it is!”

What it means to writers: Explore new plot ideas. Don’t sell your characters and story short by going with the first thing that comes to mind. You may find the first thing ends up being the best thing, but at least explore other possibilities.

The Doctor: “Well, look at me. I’m old, lacking in vigor, my mind’s in turmoil. I no longer know if I’m coming, have gone, or even been. I’m falling to pieces. I no longer even have any clothes sense… Self-pity is all I have left.”

What it means to writers: This is how some writers may feel after plugging along in the business for an extended period of time. We aren’t alone. But don’t stay in the self-pitying phase too long.

The Doctor: “A little gratitude wouldn’t irretrievably damage my ego.”

What it means to writers: Form rejections and no responses hurt. But they’re part of the business so we have to accept them and move on.

The Doctor: “Planets come and go. Stars perish. Matter disperses, coalesces, forms into other patterns, other worlds. Nothing can be eternal.”

What it means to writers: Whatever misery we are in, whatever struggles we may be going through, all we need is a little perspective—it won’t last forever.

The Doctor: “Anybody remotely interesting is mad, in some way or another.”

What it means to writers: Embrace your inner madness—let the creativity flow.

The Doctor: “We’re all basically primeval slime with ideas above its station.”

What it means to writers: We are all in this together.

The Doctor: “A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting.”

What it means to writers: Make sure your plotting has twists and turns. Following the beginning straight through to the end makes a boring read.

The Doctor: “No. Impossible. I’m fully booked for the next two centuries.”

What it means to writers: It’s okay to say no when people ask you to do something that takes you away from your writing time.

The Master: “I don’t know, rocket fire at long range – somehow it lacks that personal touch.”

What it means to writers: Give our work the personal touch. Even if you’re writing fiction, there should be a part of you in your story somewhere. If there isn’t, you’re creating distance for your readers (the long range rocket fire). While this can still be a good story, making it up close and personal makes for a better reading experience.

 

Even though that final quote wasn’t from The Doctor himself, it was still from the series and is still good advice. These quotes and more can be found here and here.

 

Write on!

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About joanstradling

I’m a wife, mother, writer, pet wrangler, crafter, student, and anything else I can fit into my busy schedule. I still hope to ride a dragon, discover a new world by walking through a wardrobe, meet a Hobbit, or any of the other amazing things I read about as a child. In the meantime, I imagine and write about my own incredible worlds and characters–and continue to live vicariously through books.
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