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  • Writer's pictureLaura L. Zimmerman

Listen to The Doctor. (or 3 Ways Dr. Who Can Make You a Better Writer)

The Doctor. Two simple words. Say them in proper company and you will fall into an hour long conversation without so much as a blink. (*Pun totally intended!*) 

Okay, okay. This guy has been around for generations – literally. And honestly, I find it fascinating that a TV show about a Time Lord and his Companions has captivated so many throughout the years. (A show other than Star Wars, at least. *wink*) This summer, my eldest daughter and I have taken to re-watching the series again (the more recent releases), now that it’s on Amazon Prime. (Oh no worries – we watched it when it was on Netflix, too. There is no such thing as too much Dr. Who. Tee-hee.) 

So without further ado, here are 3 Ways Dr. Who Can Make You a Better Writer!

1.Rule Number One: The Doctor lies. Oh my friend, you had better learn this one, quick! Because in any given episode, right at the height of the action, when things look most bleak, you will often find The Doctor had it under control the entire time – via a Little White Lie. Or a major one! Let’s be honest – lies make a story interesting. I challenge you to find a book – any book – where there isn’t some sort of lie right in the middle, which is either what creates the drama in the first place or at least adds a large amount of tension. Lies are sort of the basis of all inter-personal relationships – or rather, what makes them break down. Not that I’m suggesting you do it, but in a story, it works. Example: The MC wants to protect his/her love, so they lie, therefore breaking said ‘love’s heart. Come on, a lie has created the perfect ending to so many stories – especially when the reader is led to believe the hero/heroine will be the one to sacrifice his/her life, only to leave the reader in tears when another beloved character tricks that MC, gives their own life and saves everyone else. Boo-hoo! So, lies: If you want to be a good writer, get those characters telling false-hoods! (It’s literally the basis of every single Disney show out there.)

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2. Bowties are cool. Oh dear, dear Matt Smith. Will you never listen to Amy Pond? How often must she curl that upper lip and comment? Sigh. But, Matt Smith does have one thing right: That bowtie of his has made him memorable. And this is important, especially when writing a series of books where that MC will appear again. Find that one eccentric detail – an article of clothing, a habit, a phrase – that makes that character memorable, and your job will be complete. The reader will get a mental image of what that MC looks like – acts like – and you won’t have to constantly remind the reader of who they are. Seriously – say the words, “Hello Sweetie” to any Dr. Who fan, and see what they say. (Guaranteed it will be the name of a certain female character who’s name has to do with music (*wink* Spoilers!! Ha! Did it again!) ) Honestly, I’ve read books where, by the end, I couldn’t remember what the MC looked like or any distinguishing characteristics. Like they were just a face-less player in a game of chess. Which is fine, if you want the reader to put your book down. *Ahem* Be sure to give that MC a detail that sets them apart. Your readers will thank you for it. 

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3. Don’t Blink. Ack! Those crazy Weeping Angels. You just never know when they’re going to pop up. Especially when you blink. The point being – Expect the Unexpected. Now, I know not all of you are ‘pantsers’, and I do still love you. (Promise.) In fact, I will never knock a ‘plotter’ for the simple fact that I wrote that way for so very many years. But there is one thing to be said about going into a scene with no expectation and just letting your fingers (or rather, the characters) take you away. Hey, the worst that can happen is for you to reflect and realize you hate it and choose to scrap the scene altogether. (Stop crying. It was only an hour of your life.) All our manuscripts will face a certain amount of culling, when all is said and done. But there is something about that jaw-dropping-feeling you get when you sit down with zero ideas, and an hour later you have a scene you never. imagined. possible. And that it’s good! Just this month, my MC’s mother ended up dying of cancer from a ‘pantser’ moment. I had no clue it was coming. I hadn’t planned it into the vague plot that swam around my head. But ya know what? It not only worked, it became the drive behind the MC’s mission of the story – something I’d been struggling with for weeks. Score! So yeah, in this, Definitely Blink! You never know what will happen around the next corner.

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This is how I feel when writing and I break into laughter all alone. Sigh.

Happy writing, friends!

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Remember, a crack is never just a crack… 

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