From some of your recent posts it seems there is less of an overall arc to the novels (or at least more freedom for the authors) than I was expecting.
It's often surprising to me how many misconceptions there are out there about the creative process.
Can you give an overview of how the larger process works ? With, for instance, the Typhon Pact, is there a specific plan or destination ? Is there a central document for where the Trek universe is going, a timescale (real and in Trek universe) for when things happen, and who exactly makes these decisions ?
Oh, God, no! It's not that centralized. There's no master plan. An editor may have a loose plan in mind for a specific series or miniseries that he or she is editing, but it's just going to be some of the main points that the series should hit; the rest of it is for the authors to come up with. After all, coming up with stories is our job
. Why wouldn't they let us do it? There can be a series outline for something like DS9 post-finale or Vanguard
, but it's tentative and can easily be changed by the ideas the writers bring to the table. For instance, the course Vanguard
has taken bears very little resemblance to the proposed 6-book plan in the original bible for that series.
And if something isn't a planned series, as is usually the case, it's just up to the individual authors to come up with the ideas (albeit subject to approval by the editor and CBS), and the progression of a series is purely a matter of what each individual author comes up with in turn.
It looks as if it may be a more organic process than I thought, with the various authors coming up with stuff and relying on their own reading of their colleagues work to stay in a coherent (or at least non-contradictory) world.
To an extent, although it's not like we're dangling in the wind like that. It's the responsibility of the editor or editors to maintain continuity and make sure the authors have the information they need; and like I said, the degree to which a book series is author-driven vs. editor-driven depends on the series.
Some illustrations from my own experience:
On Corps of Engineers: Aftermath
, I was hired to contribute an installment in an ongoing series with strong continuity. I was told of the big changes that were coming in Wildfire
, and I decided on my own to do a story set after it, dealing with its, well, aftermath. With that decided, my editor (Keith R.A. DeCandido) told me that he wanted the main character to reach a certain point in her emotional arc, but it was up to me to figure out how to get her there. Also, because of where I'd chosen to set my story, I was given the task of introducing the new character Tev and was given the brief on his personality, but I was left to work out the details on my own.
Similarly, in TNG: Greater Than the Sum
, I was charged with wrapping up certain loose ends from Before Dishonor
and setting the stage for Destiny
, but coming up with the specifics was my responsibility. I needed to send the Enterprise
on a mission to hunt down the Borgified ship Einstein
, and I had to resolve that arc by the end of the novel, but what they encountered on that mission was up to me. And while I had to introduce the new character of Jasminder Choudhury that Dave Mack had created for the outline of Destiny
, as the first person to actually write her I got to establish a lot of the specifics of her personality myself. And I created the character of T'Ryssa Chen, whom subsequent writers have continued to use and develop.
series is very much a one-book-at-a-time kind of thing, practically carte blanche for the writers, so long as they're true to past continuity. I created several alien characters for the series, but had no idea that one of them, Torvig, would catch on so much with other authors. Also, in Orion's Hounds
, I decided to toss in the beginning of a thread about Riker and Deanna contemplating parenthood, just because it felt like a logical outgrowth of the story, but I wasn't sure it would be approved by the studio, and I had no idea it would be followed up soon thereafter in Destiny
Even if that is the case, you must be (?) all generally working towards the start of the JJ movie. How does it all hang together ?
Well, the start
of the Abrams movie is set in 2233 in an alternate timeline. I assume you're referring to the supernova in 2387 that destroys Romulus and results in Spock's departure from the Prime universe. Naturally the books will have to stay consistent with those events once they reach 2387, but I'm aware of no specific plan to work toward them. Indeed, lately it seems the ratio of 23rd-century books to 24th-century books is increasing, so it's not the case that we're all generally moving toward 2387.