RSS iconTwitter iconFacebook icon

The Trek BBS title image

The Trek BBS statistics

Threads: 141,503
Posts: 5,511,215
Members: 25,135
Currently online: 484
Newest member: nonbelligerency

TrekToday headlines

Trek Paper Clips
By: T'Bonz on Dec 24

Sargent Passes
By: T'Bonz on Dec 23

QMx Trek Insignia Badges
By: T'Bonz on Dec 23

And The New Director Of Star Trek 3 Is…
By: T'Bonz on Dec 23

TV Alert: Pine On Tonight Show
By: T'Bonz on Dec 22

Retro Review: The Emperor’s New Cloak
By: Michelle on Dec 20

Star Trek Opera
By: T'Bonz on Dec 19

New Abrams Project
By: T'Bonz on Dec 18

IDW Publishing March 2015 Comics
By: T'Bonz on Dec 17

Paramount Star Trek 3 Expectations
By: T'Bonz on Dec 17


Welcome! The Trek BBS is the number one place to chat about Star Trek with like-minded fans. Please login to see our full range of forums as well as the ability to send and receive private messages, track your favourite topics and of course join in the discussions.

If you are a new visitor, join us for free. If you are an existing member please login below. Note: for members who joined under our old messageboard system, please login with your display name not your login name.


Go Back   The Trek BBS > Misc. Star Trek > Trek Literature

Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old December 1 2014, 01:40 AM   #1
Sran
Commodore
 
Sran's Avatar
 
Location: The Captain's Table
Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

Having read the transcript of a recent interview with both David Mack and Greg Cox, I was struck by Mr. Mack's comment that part of writing a novel entails avoiding mistakes and pitfalls that are likely to get a story idea, outline or manuscript red-flagged by an editor. As such, I thought it would be fun to discuss what some of these issues are.

Please note that this thread is in no way intended to be a discussion about specific story ideas, as such threads are prohibited in this part of the forum. This thread is meant to house a discussion of general points and ideas that may compromise a novel's chances of getting accepted or published.

Please also note that although I mentioned two authors by name, anyone who wishes to share is welcome to post in this thread; additionally, Mr. Mack and Mr. Cox are not obligated to comment in this thread but are certainly welcome to do so. Thanks!

--Sran
__________________
"Many things seem clever to an imbecile." --Captain Thelin th'Valrass, USS Enterprise-- "The Chimes at Midnight"
Sran is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 1 2014, 02:09 AM   #2
Greg Cox
Vice Admiral
 
Location: Oxford, PA
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

Some of it is just getting a feel for the licensor's tastes after working with them for years, and seeing their comments on previous projects, but in general:

1) Keep an eye on the source material and follow its lead when it comes to sex or violence or whatever. My own rule of thumb is to basically ask myself "Could they do this in the original show/movie/comic book/whatever?" If not, maybe I need to tone things down.

To my mind, Trek is basically a PG-rated franchise, so I'm not going to get as R-rated as I might when writing, say, a TERMINATOR or UNDERWORLD novel. For the same reason that I wouldn't use the F-word in a SUPERMAN book . . ..

2) If the show is still on the air, you probably need to listen to Smokey the Bear and leave the campfire the way you found it. In short, you need to restore the status quo by the end of the book. And avoid making any major changes to the characters, like revealing that they have a long-lost twin sister . . ..

3) If the show is off the air, you may have more latitude to shake things up since you're not going to run afoul of any future episodes, as with the latter 4400 books or the post-Nemesis Trek books

Hope that helps!
__________________
www.gregcox-author.com
Greg Cox is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 1 2014, 02:45 AM   #3
Christopher
Writer
 
Christopher's Avatar
 
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
1) Keep an eye on the source material and follow its lead when it comes to sex or violence or whatever. My own rule of thumb is to basically ask myself "Could they do this in the original show/movie/comic book/whatever?" If not, maybe I need to tone things down.
On the other hand, you'll generally find rather more nude scenes in Trek Lit than you'd see onscreen, since you can get away with more in print than you could in pictures. I've certainly written plenty of nude scenes, and Peter David and Dave Mack have done their share. I remember a couple of tales (Doors into Chaos and Buying Time) where Bob Greenberger had female characters choose to conform to Ferengi custom while on Ferenginar. And there was the rather intimate Keiko/Tasha nude scene in "A Terrible Beauty" in Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows.

Which segues into another area where the books have been able to get away with stuff they couldn't have done in the show, namely the portrayal of LGBT characters and relationships. That's one area where we fortunately haven't been under the same limitations as the shows. Similarly with portraying ethnic diversity, since we aren't limited by the available casting pool (or the unconscious biases of casting directors).

Indeed, I've always thought that the whole goal in tie-in books is to do things you couldn't do onscreen -- whether to do things that would blow the budget like showing more exotic aliens or settings or depicting bigger action, or to do things that the prose medium is uniquely suited for like getting into the characters' heads or telling stories that don't rely on visuals.

Of course, I take your point, because you're thinking in terms of the intended target audience for the work and not wanting to do things that are inappropriate or off-putting for that audience. But I think the way you phrased it, in terms of "Could they do this on the original," is a little too broad without some caveats.
__________________
Christopher L. Bennett Homepage -- Site update 11/16/14 including annotations for "The Caress of a Butterfly's Wing" and overview for DTI: The Collectors

Written Worlds -- My blog
Christopher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 1 2014, 02:47 AM   #4
Sran
Commodore
 
Sran's Avatar
 
Location: The Captain's Table
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

Thank you for your comments, Mr. Cox!

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
2) If the show is still on the air, you probably need to listen to Smokey the Bear and leave the campfire the way you found it. In short, you need to restore the status quo by the end of the book. And avoid making any major changes to the characters, like revealing that they have a long-lost twin sister . . ..
It seems like this point is even more important when writing Star Trek as opposed to another series. As there are many different eras to choose from when writing a novel, it would seem that a story that takes place in the 23rd century may be treated differently than a century later.

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
3) If the show is off the air, you may have more latitude to shake things up since you're not going to run afoul of any future episodes, as with the latter 4400 books or the post-Nemesis Trek books.
How much does an author's experience play into this? Are more established writers given greater latitude if they want to make major changes (i.e., killing off a major character)? Are authors given greater latitude if they're making major changes that involve characters or ideas that they created?

Thanks again!

--Sran
__________________
"Many things seem clever to an imbecile." --Captain Thelin th'Valrass, USS Enterprise-- "The Chimes at Midnight"
Sran is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 1 2014, 03:08 AM   #5
Christopher
Writer
 
Christopher's Avatar
 
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

Sran wrote: View Post
How much does an author's experience play into this? Are more established writers given greater latitude if they want to make major changes (i.e., killing off a major character)? Are authors given greater latitude if they're making major changes that involve characters or ideas that they created?
I don't know about killing off characters specifically, but in general, I think the licensing people are more willing to accept such suggestions from writers (or editors) that they know and trust. If you've proven repeatedly that you understand what makes a Star Trek story and respect the rules of the universe, they're more likely to trust that if you do something daring or strange, it will still do justice to the franchise.
__________________
Christopher L. Bennett Homepage -- Site update 11/16/14 including annotations for "The Caress of a Butterfly's Wing" and overview for DTI: The Collectors

Written Worlds -- My blog
Christopher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 1 2014, 03:56 AM   #6
borgboy
Fleet Captain
 
borgboy's Avatar
 
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

This makes me think of how Peter David really brought depth into the Riker/Troi and Picard/Beverly relationships. He didn't change the status quo, but the development he gave those relationships made me even more invested in the tv versions of those characters and relationships, specifically with Imzadi/Imzadi II and Q-Squared.

That is a problem with media tie in fiction, there's a limit to what you can do with the characters and relationships, so the writer has a bigger challenge to make the story feel important.

The LGBT inclusion in Trek lit is really important to me as a gay Trek fan. The tv shows and movies have really failed in that area, which I consider to be an important part of Trek's legacy, it's portrayal of diversity and a united humanity. In many ways I embrace Trek Lit as more personal to me, more "mine" because of that.

I'd use Ex Machina as a good example of Trek lit developing what was on screen far better than the original source. The OMP era is really brought to life beautifully, complete with excellent and well developed alien diversity, and exploring where the characters were in that largely unexplored time.
__________________
Resistance is futile
borgboy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 1 2014, 04:21 AM   #7
Sran
Commodore
 
Sran's Avatar
 
Location: The Captain's Table
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

Christopher wrote: View Post
I don't know about killing off characters specifically, but in general, I think the licensing people are more willing to accept such suggestions from writers (or editors) that they know and trust. If you've proven repeatedly that you understand what makes a Star Trek story and respect the rules of the universe, they're more likely to trust that if you do something daring or strange, it will still do justice to the franchise.
That makes sense; thanks, as always, for your comments, Mr. Bennett!

--Sran
__________________
"Many things seem clever to an imbecile." --Captain Thelin th'Valrass, USS Enterprise-- "The Chimes at Midnight"
Sran is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 1 2014, 07:41 AM   #8
The Hebrew Hammer
Lieutenant Commander
 
The Hebrew Hammer's Avatar
 
Location: Washington DC
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

borgboy wrote: View Post
This makes me think of how Peter David really brought depth into the Riker/Troi and Picard/Beverly relationships. He didn't change the status quo, but the development he gave those relationships made me even more invested in the tv versions of those characters and relationships, specifically with Imzadi/Imzadi II and Q-Squared.
I'm going to disagree with you on Riker/Troi in Imzadi. I love that book dearly, but I just never felt like the love and intimacy depicted in the book was remotely alluded to on the show. It comes up more in the movies for me - I mean, hey, they get married - but what I took away from Imzadi was that Troi and Riker were the greatest loves of each others' lives, and in the show I just got...well, they're former lovers who are still close, but then Troi dates Worf. Now, that obviously relates to the points in this thread about how books can do more than the movies, but Imzadi gave so much more to the relationship that I was actually a little disappointed it wasn't that way on screen.

borgboy wrote: View Post
The LGBT inclusion in Trek lit is really important to me as a gay Trek fan. The tv shows and movies have really failed in that area, which I consider to be an important part of Trek's legacy, it's portrayal of diversity and a united humanity. In many ways I embrace Trek Lit as more personal to me, more "mine" because of that.
On this part I wholly agree with you. It's a major social issue that on-screen Trek has never addressed fully, but as shown in this lengthy thread, it's come up over and over in TrekLit. It makes the world more real to me, and honors IDIC - if there are heterosexual relationships in any given universe, it would naturally follow that there are non-heterosexual relationships as well. (We do get a little bit of non-binary on-screen with "The Outcast," but it's not much, because Riker swoops in.)

I don't think I'd want much more than a nude scene (for any type of relationship) in licensed work, though. It wasn't on the show, so it would feel out of place in a book. Besides, there are other zines^H^H^H^H^H websites for that...

Thanks for starting this thread, Sran, it's been interesting so far and I hope it continues.
The Hebrew Hammer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4 2014, 03:27 AM   #9
voyager1
Lieutenant
 
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

I am really surprised by the comments about the LGBT thing. Something to consider is where LGBT rights as a movement was in the 1980s with TNG the 1990s with DS9. I think trek really has pushed the boundaries for when they were aired. Also
many of the themes about fighting discrimination and bigotry, while
taking a Scifi bent have real parallels then and today.

But yes one can do more with a book,
and our society has moved so forward
since the shows aired.
voyager1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4 2014, 03:58 AM   #10
Idran
Commander
 
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

voyager1 wrote: View Post
I am really surprised by the comments about the LGBT thing. Something to consider is where LGBT rights as a movement was in the 1980s with TNG the 1990s with DS9. I think trek really has pushed the boundaries for when they were aired. Also
many of the themes about fighting discrimination and bigotry, while
taking a Scifi bent have real parallels then and today.

But yes one can do more with a book,
and our society has moved so forward
since the shows aired.
The thing is, there was a lot more that was proposed over the years to include more LGBT representation - David Gerrold's "Blood and Fire" script that was rejected, Frakes pushing for a man to play Soren in The Outcast - that the production staff would always shoot down. Even Guinan refering to two people marrying when talking to Lal was offscript. To quote Memory Alpha:

In one of the scenes with Guinan tutoring Lal about Human sexuality, Whoopi Goldberg altered one of her script lines in order to turn a strictly heterosexual explanation into a gender-neutral version: "According to the script, Guinan was supposed to start telling Lal, 'When a man and a woman are in love ...' and in the background, there would be men and women sitting at tables, holding hands[...] But Whoopi refused to say that. She said, 'This show is beyond that. It should be 'When two people are in love.'" It was also decided on set that the background of the scene show a same-sex couple holding hands, but "someone ran to a phone and made a call to the production office and that was nixed. [Producer] David Livingston came down and made sure that didn't happen."
Idran is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4 2014, 04:52 AM   #11
Christopher
Writer
 
Christopher's Avatar
 
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

voyager1 wrote: View Post
Something to consider is where LGBT rights as a movement was in the 1980s with TNG the 1990s with DS9. I think trek really has pushed the boundaries for when they were aired.
Not really. There were a couple of times that they nudged against the boundaries a little -- "The Outcast," "Rejoined," "Warlord" -- but they were far from pioneers, since other contemporary shows had pushed the boundaries farther and earlier. "Rejoined" was the only time they did anything really daring and boundary-pushing for its time, with the same-sex kiss between Terry Farrell and Susanna Thompson, but L.A. Law had shown the first lesbian kiss on TV four years earlier, the same year that the sitcom Roc showed the first gay marriage on US television. There were shows with lesbian or gay regular characters by the mid-90s, and have been pretty much ever since. But "Rejoined" was the farthest that Trek ever pushed the envelope, and it avoided attempting any further progress even while the rest of TV was moving forward.
__________________
Christopher L. Bennett Homepage -- Site update 11/16/14 including annotations for "The Caress of a Butterfly's Wing" and overview for DTI: The Collectors

Written Worlds -- My blog
Christopher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4 2014, 01:47 PM   #12
borgboy
Fleet Captain
 
borgboy's Avatar
 
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

Jeri Ryan wanted Seven of Nine to be gay. There was consideration for Malcolm Reed to be gay - I remember reading an interview, I think in tv guide, when Enterprise first came out where they were asked about gay characters and the answer was that they weren't sure if any of the leads would be gay yet. I wasn't impressed that they didn't know that much about their leads supposedly - but then by the first couple of episodes every main character had shown interest in the opposite sex, even if it was just male gaze ogling of T'Pol.
And then Enterprise was supposed to do a "gay" episode and they just made it all about Vulcan taboo against mindmelds, a very weak metaphor at best.
Even the new movies have failed to have even a background gay character.
I love Trek to bits, but outside of the novels they have disappointed me many many times with failing to include LGBT diversity.
__________________
Resistance is futile
borgboy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4 2014, 05:36 PM   #13
The Hebrew Hammer
Lieutenant Commander
 
The Hebrew Hammer's Avatar
 
Location: Washington DC
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

Christopher wrote: View Post
Not really. There were a couple of times that they nudged against the boundaries a little -- "The Outcast," "Rejoined," "Warlord" -- but they were far from pioneers, since other contemporary shows had pushed the boundaries farther and earlier.
I would go so far as to say "The Outcast" is the opposite of helpful to the cause. They had a great opportunity when they created a non-binary species, and then they go and have the point of the episode become "it's okay to be heterosexual!"

I will note that TrekLit has been better in this regard; races like the Hermat and Talosians are shown to be dual-gendered and use alternative pronouns and nobody bats an eyelash.
__________________
"Could you please continue the petty bickering? I find it most intriguing."
(Etoile)
The Hebrew Hammer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4 2014, 05:46 PM   #14
rfmcdpei
Captain
 
rfmcdpei's Avatar
 
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
View rfmcdpei's Twitter Profile
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

borgboy wrote: View Post
Jeri Ryan wanted Seven of Nine to be gay. There was consideration for Malcolm Reed to be gay - I remember reading an interview, I think in tv guide, when Enterprise first came out where they were asked about gay characters and the answer was that they weren't sure if any of the leads would be gay yet. I wasn't impressed that they didn't know that much about their leads supposedly - but then by the first couple of episodes every main character had shown interest in the opposite sex, even if it was just male gaze ogling of T'Pol.
Malcolm Reed did read as potentially gay to me in early episodes of Enterprise. That may have been something of an achievement, given that I'd not realized my own sexual orientation at that time.
rfmcdpei is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4 2014, 07:29 PM   #15
Christopher
Writer
 
Christopher's Avatar
 
Re: Common Writing Mistakes and Pitfalls

The Hebrew Hammer wrote: View Post
I would go so far as to say "The Outcast" is the opposite of helpful to the cause. They had a great opportunity when they created a non-binary species, and then they go and have the point of the episode become "it's okay to be heterosexual!"
Well, it was going for a sort of inverted allegory, trying to get heterosexual people to think, "What if you were the group being discriminated against the way you discriminate against gays?" In a similar vein to Roddenberry's Planet Earth pilot about a society where women dominated and kept men as pets, or the story pitch from his original 1964 Trek proposal involving a "Plantation-Era" planet with black masters and white slaves. The idea is to get people in the privileged group to put themselves in the position of the subordinate group and recognize the injustice of their privilege. But I can certainly see how it could backfire and come across as "We have to end this backward system and restore our proper privilege!"

And no, it wasn't a very bold statement, but that's exactly my point -- that TNG fell so far short of pushing the envelope that its one effort to do a gay allegory comes off as feeble, even backward.
__________________
Christopher L. Bennett Homepage -- Site update 11/16/14 including annotations for "The Caress of a Butterfly's Wing" and overview for DTI: The Collectors

Written Worlds -- My blog
Christopher is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 04:11 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
FireFox 2+ or Internet Explorer 7+ highly recommended.