I agree with what Maurice said, and admit my bias, although I don't believe it must be an either/or proposition. It should be both/and. The plot and setting must be well conceived and
the drama must be engaging. However, I also agree that between the two, drama is more important
. I guess Maurice's point is that if there are problems in both areas, then the status of being the bigger problem should be assigned to the drama, which is more important, and which is a point well taken. Thanks, Maurice. I Hope I read that correctly.
Here's my stab at critiquing the drama. The end of the opening segment of Heavy Lies the Crown
is one of the finer moments I've seen in Star Trek
fan films. I guess what Maurice is getting at is that, in the context of the episode then, fallout from that decision should have made another, later choice more agonizing.
Here are three opportunities that I've identified in the story to do that:
1. The first is in the decision to go down on the away mission in order to avoid bombarding the site. From a dramatic perspective, perhaps the problem here is that it was not really Hunter's idea to go down to the surface; it was Stiles'. It's fine to have competent officers, but this should be Hunter's
story. If it had been wholly Hunter's idea, then it could have been framed as Hunter
trying to avoid directly repeating what he had to do to Captain Talath in the teaser, by risking his own life to give those whom he might need to bombard more of a chance. The point is more or less made, but Hunter is reacting rather than driving the action (another common complaint in fan films, I believe). But even at this point, the story still has a long way to go (ETA:
i.e., it is far from over).
2. I apologize if you did this in the episode, but I don't remember exactly, but making it so that the phaser modifications to cut through the dampening field only worked for kill settings on the phasers would have made things much more dramatic when Hunter and S'Ceris are pinned down by the pair of obstinate colonists. Again Hunter should be the one to reason with the pair, and Hunter should be faced again with a decision of whether to kill them in order to carry out the mission.
3. Finally, the decision to home in on the communicator to target phasers should have been Hunter's. Hunter himself should have had to run closer to the target area, before throwing his combadge, because it was that far.
A common thread here is to make Hunter less of a bystander and more a driving force in the action. Constantly weighing decisions of life and death, whether to kill others, whether to risk their lives, and whether to risk his own, fits in with the theme suggested by the title, "Heavy Lies the Crown". It lies heavy, not just because of what he did to assume command, but from the decisions he must make continually while in command.
In summary, my suggestions revolve around the idea that the away mission
is the setting for the drama to unfold. Finally, trimming the running time to focus more specifically on the story of the hero, Hunter, and the away mission in particular, might be indicated.
I'd be interested in reading whether Maurice thinks these sorts of suggestions are on point, and also, if so, whether they go far enough.
I really intended to just dropped in for a quick bit (lol, and stayed an hour) to make sure TV Tropes
gets a mention (and I don't have the time this morning to search the thread to see if it's already been pointed out). Like any wiki-based resource (and indeed like any resource at all), it's not perfect. But one thing in particular I think is worth mentioning is that it seems to have an enumerable catalog of common pitfalls and clichés, which I'm sure us aspiring writers would benefit from being consciously aware of, in order to avoid their unintentional use.
I'm out till the New Year probably. Season's Greetings to all.
P.S. Oh, and last but not least, thanks, Nick, for being so gracious, in encouraging discussion of your work.