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Old September 16 2014, 04:24 PM   #1
Johnny
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Location: Birmingham, UK.
I've started writing again...

So I've been working on this script for quite a while now, but I've been getting in to it more so the last six months. Now as much as I like the way Star Trek is written, I don't find the formula works too well with how I like to write, so I came up with a few rules of things I wanted to deal with.

1. The solution to the story cannot be technology based. ie: an invention/something technologically risky that's not been tried before/repolarising/reconfiguring/getting more speed.
2. There's only a fundamental amount of power on the ship. ie: there are limits to what it can do.
3. There are better ships than this one out there.
4. No ego about this being the best crew in the fleet, etc.
5. It's a job, not a calling.
6. The story is about the characters, why and how they make decisions, their relationships with each other, lies, secrets and deceit. And these things must affect the overall story arc.
7. The ship isn't a solid thing - it's got give in it's construction and materials. Therefore creeks and bends.
8. Physical damage to the ship can't be fixed with fields/strengthening/button presses. It affects performance, and has longer term ramifications.
9. The ship is massive and weighs 'a tonne' so doesn't flit about like a needle on a compass.
10. People die...and not pleasantly, or with a 'final defining statement'.
11. Loss/grief/pain hurts and has longer term ramifications to the characters, and affects how they make decisions and such.
12. People are not perfect, and not everyone gets on or is necessarily that close. They also have personal problems and issues that define how their character acts.
13. No voice over captains log summaries to jump ahead.
14. To show there's a massive non-money-making-corporate element to the Federation, private companies, shipping, restaurants, r&r, gyms, pubs, cruise liners, sea fairing ships, mass transport, etc, which needs to be shown.
15. To show federation space is busy, especially ports, ships coming and going all over the place.
16. TV & Radio is still around!
17. Space is huge! As such, you can hide a lot of things in a lot of places, even if it's in your space, and it's likely not many people with find it.

That's all I can think about right now. But I was hoping that others may have a few thoughts on what would be worth avoiding or changing to improve general storytelling?

Ta, J.
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Old September 16 2014, 04:52 PM   #2
Dulak
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Re: I've started writing again...

Nice ideas...Star Trek has a certain feel to it as generally presented. Your ideas are an interesting combination of the standard "feel," but with enough "on the edge" concepts to make things interesting.

Your challenge as I see it from what you presented is to keep enough trek like traditional elements in your stories, BUT, pushing the envelope in a few key areas to write the kind of story you want. I see the potential for some really strong stories if you can pull off that balancing act!

If you need a kickstart, pick up some copies of the three old narrator's guides from the defunct Last Unicorn Games Star Trek roleplaying games. They pack a lot of how to create trek stories in a concise manner.

Looking forward to some of your offerings.
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Old September 17 2014, 01:53 AM   #3
Johnny
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Re: I've started writing again...

Thanks Dulak.

Just read some of your stuff, good read.

I think at a first level fleshing out my characters with some of the above is likely the best step to naturally breaking out of the mold. I've got a couple of hundred pages of notes, and maybe 30 or 40 pages of script written.

I'll dig out a bit I'm happy with and post it for thoughts.

J.
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Old September 17 2014, 02:19 AM   #4
Count Zero
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Re: I've started writing again...

I'm curious as to why you'd want TV and radio to still be around. That's one of the things Star Trek got right, I think, although the reason they give is a little silly (or not, if you interpret social media as people's own lives). Even in my generation many people don't watch TV anymore, not to speak of radio which is even less common. Sure, there'll be some audio-visual entertainment in the future but I don't think people will be going back to traditional TV and radio.

(Sorry if that seems like harping on about a minor thing. Just curious. )
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Old September 17 2014, 02:57 AM   #5
Johnny
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Re: I've started writing again...

Count Zero wrote: View Post
I'm curious as to why you'd want TV and radio to still be around. That's one of the things Star Trek got right, I think, although the reason they give is a little silly (or not, if you interpret social media as people's own lives). Even in my generation many people don't watch TV anymore, not to speak of radio which is even less common. Sure, there'll be some audio-visual entertainment in the future but I don't think people will be going back to traditional TV and radio.

(Sorry if that seems like harping on about a minor thing. Just curious. )
I know what you mean, but I do have some reasons for keeping them in. (I get rather defensive about it as well but I'll try to remain calm.)

From a practical point of view, tv and radio are fairly passive and make it easy to take in information without much effort. Reading however is a fairly consuming thing. Especially in news for example, I won't read the BBC News articles but I'll listen to Radio 4 news bulletins since they take less effort. I can do other things at the same time.

From a personal point of view, I only know what I want to listen to half the time, so I can pick for half the day, but sometimes I just want someone to play something at me without having to think about picking something out. I just hit an on (or stream!) button. It helps me switch off from everything and not worry that I've got enough stuff lined up in iplayer. I also get to listen to people I've never met have opinions about stuff that may sway mine, or I'd likely end up thinking I'm right all the time!

Also, things like broadcasts of important events, that people cannot attend, like swearing in of a new president. Or keeping up to date of flood or storm warnings, especially where local communities exist, where simple technology like radio is easy to use, install, etc.

I find that the interaction required is fairly low stress, and that you can zone in and out with interest or lack thereof.

From an in-universe point of view, there's billions of people who only want to do things they enjoy. And it seriously hasn't been anyone's interest to transmit news, comedy, theatre, sport, politics and drama to anyone, for the last 400 years? Whether by picture or by radio?

From a writing point of view, it allows an 'in-flow of information' which doesn't rely on the ship or crew meeting someone for exposition. I can use it to build up tension or show what is important to the federation community at the time.

Does any of that make sense? I know I rambled a bit!
J.
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Old September 17 2014, 04:37 AM   #6
Dulak
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Re: I've started writing again...

Of course with 20+ years worth of "cannon" trek series to draw from, one is bound to miss something. But just based on what limited evidence I remember, it seems likely that tv and movies (broadcast/scripted media) are still around. Even if just as archaic entertainment media enjoyed occasionally.

TOS of course has more examples, but they still watch live theater, and several references are made to old earth actors..

Kirk takes Edith Keeler to a "picture" without blinking an eye.

I remember TNG episodes where holodeck adventures were taken from old media..


And I don't think prediction of the death of old media forms are really accurate. People still watch silent film for heaven's sake....a new silent film even won an oscar a few years ago...

And so called "reality tv" hasn't (despite predictions) replaced television scripted drama...

And even tv and movies aren't static media...they are constantly evolving themselves in an attempt to continue to draw audiences.

One could argue that holodeck adventures, while perhaps more derivative from video games than tv, are evidence that some form of scripted media, if a bit more interactive, are still available.
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Old September 17 2014, 05:26 AM   #7
Count Zero
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Re: I've started writing again...

So, if I understand it correctly, Johnny wants to incorporate something like broadcasts which I agree would still be made.
TV and radio, however, are certain forms of presentation of those broadcasts, in so far as they're transmitted on a fixed schedule and people can't skip ahead (or back). There's a switch to media consumption on-demand right now and that's why the inclusion of traditional TV and radio seemed anachronistic to me. I ditched my TV set almost 10 years ago but of course, I watch TV shows or the news or even live broadcasts occasionally.

There's nothing wrong with inserting anachronistic elements into one's science fiction, anyway. It can be quite interesting. Which is why I wanted to know more about that detail, I guess.

From the list, I find point 17 the most interesting as it presents some good storytelling opportunities.
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Old September 17 2014, 06:12 AM   #8
Dulak
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Re: I've started writing again...

OK, just noticed that 5 "it's a job not a calling. " conflicts in my book with 14. "Huge non-money making corp..."

If you're going with the "we just do what we are drawn to" futuristic "to each according to his needs.." then without profit. ...everything is a calling.
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Old September 18 2014, 01:10 AM   #9
Johnny
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Re: I've started writing again...

Dulak wrote: View Post
One could argue that holodeck adventures, while perhaps more derivative from video games than tv, are evidence that some form of scripted media, if a bit more interactive, are still available.
I like that idea, not something that's dawned on me before, but it does seem a more natural progression.

Count Zero wrote: View Post
So, if I understand it correctly, Johnny wants to incorporate something like broadcasts which I agree would still be made.
TV and radio, however, are certain forms of presentation of those broadcasts, in so far as they're transmitted on a fixed schedule and people can't skip ahead (or back). There's a switch to media consumption on-demand right now and that's why the inclusion of traditional TV and radio seemed anachronistic to me. I ditched my TV set almost 10 years ago but of course, I watch TV shows or the news or even live broadcasts occasionally.
I suppose technically live TV and Radio can't be rewound, it's the local tech that gives it that facility. Like you say though, on demand is a different story.
Where there isn't yet the infastructure, or where people may not have access to, are out of range of, or will never get access to (let's call it for now...) a residential subspace network, then blind broadcasting would be an advantage.
But even then (if I were in control) I'd still be inclined to transmit blind all over. Like targeting the lowest common (reciever) denominator.
I could see it being especially useful for providing access to programming outside of the Federation in regards to news and current affairs. Providing a wider exposure to Federation values, but that's getting political!

I also dumped my TV last week! It was taking up too much room!

Dulak wrote: View Post
OK, just noticed that 5 "it's a job not a calling. " conflicts in my book with 14. "Huge non-money making corp..."

If you're going with the "we just do what we are drawn to" futuristic "to each according to his needs.." then without profit. ...everything is a calling.
To clarify the "It's a job...' point, it's more from a writing point of view, to remind me that I shouldn't be laying down dialogue that gives the impression that 'I work for Star Fleet therefore I have a higher moral standard than you.'. I think it's been overdone, and also gives the impression everyone thinks the same way, stunting individual character growth.
Things like this are also why they appear in their own clothes for some chunk of the story. I'm trying to express that as much as Star Fleet is a good chunk of their life, it's not who they are or all they are.
However, I'm not striking that view point from Star Trek entirely, I'm just avoiding writing it in to this story.

As for the non-profit side of things, I can see what you mean about a contradiction. For myself I'm good at photography, and I really enjoy photographing weddings and kids parties, but I wouldn't say it's my calling. Not sure if I have one to be honest. But if I had the freedom to do photography for free for the rest of my life, but still be able to live, I'd be happy doing that.
I don't really have much else on that one, a Star Trek money-less based society and how it operates has been swimming around my head for years and I still don't have a complete handle on how I'd perceive it!

Thanks both for you feedback as well. Love little chit-chats about the intricacies.
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Old September 23 2014, 02:35 AM   #10
Johnny
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Re: I've started writing again...

Ok, I've been tidying up a few bits. This one's a light scene, it's meant to offset of the awful stuff to happen later.
I'll try and clear up some more tomorrow, I know this isn't much.
Please bare in mind this is a script so it doesn't have all the narrative embellishments, and the characters names may change, some don't even have full names yet.
J.


INT. STARBASE 631 – COMMAND & CONTROL

- Miller runs in and stops at the door.
MILLER: John! Have they left yet?
- John twists round and wraps his hand around the head piece.
JOHN: They're about to, why?
MILLER: Hold them will you?
- Miller runs back out again.
JOHN: What do I tell them?!
MILLER: Just make it up!
- John leans on his console and thinks, before speaking in to his head piece.
JOHN: 3066-Charlie, we're having problems with the dock release clamps, stand-by.

INT. HYPERION - BRIDGE

- Leicester impatiently leans on his console, Bruggeman leans back in his chair, and Connell is pacing back and forth across the bridge.
JOHN (V.O.): Sorry, Richard, I can't fix it from here, I've got a team coming up to you now, it'll only be a couple of minutes...
CONNELL: I'm tempted to go down there myself with a crowbar and prise the the ship off the dock if...
JOHN (V.O.): You want an explosive decompression then go ahead, but for the sake of you keeping your eyeballs in your head I'd give it a miss.
CONNELL: No, you're not listening to me. In sixty seconds I'm going to fire the bow thrusters, and if you don't release the dock I'm going to be taking some of the Starbase with me. I practically handed you this job so if you want to keep it I suggest you...
- As he turns he sees MILLER coming off the turbo lift.
MILLER: Commander Myra Elizabeth Miller reporting for duty.
CONNELL (to JOHN): You utter bastard.
JOHN (V.O.): You're welcome.
CONNELL (to MILLER): You on board?
MILLER: I pick my own team.
CONNELL: Done.
MILLER: And get my own office.
CONNELL: No problem.
MILLER: Large quarters.
CONNELL: We can share. (beat) Ok, they're yours. (beat) I'll even put your name on the door.
MILLER: So you still want me?
CONNELL: Always.
- Bruggeman rolls his chair over to Leicester's console and presses the comm button.
BRUGGEMAN: Control, can you hurry it up, they're flirting again.
- John laughs over the comm.
JOHN (V.O.): Priority departure confirmed, gate 3, level 2. Good luck.
- Connell and Miller, sly smiles on their faces, don't break eye contact.
BRUGGEMAN: Can we go now?
CONNELL: Take your seat Commander.
- Miller sits at the science station and everyone perks up.
CONNELL: Clear all moorings, send departure signal. Thrusters to station keeping.
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Old September 24 2014, 07:05 PM   #11
Johnny
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Re: I've started writing again...

One more section:

EXT. SPACE
The dark side of a moon's surface approaches at speed as they warp in to position. The ship drops out some fifty meters above the arid surface. The clearing effect from the deflector kicks up a cloud of dust in a long strip, across the surface in front of them. Dark rocky mountains make up most of the eyeline.

INT. HYPERION - BRIDGE
The moon surface curves away from the viewscreen.
CONNELL: Bloody hell Ellen, that was close.
She smiles.
MCCABE: You asked for hidden...
BRUGGEMAN: ...and a flair for the dramatic?
LEICESTER: Standard traffic on long-range, sub space relay at three light-years, one commercial vessel passing through the far side of the system.
CONNELL: Ok, let's see it.

EXT. SPACE
The ship crawls along the surface until the planet edge comes in to view.

INT. HYPERION - BRIDGE

CONNELL: Liz?
MILLER: Low energy scan underway.
CONNELL: Drop our power output to below 8%. Let's go in slow.
BRUGGEMAN hit's a few buttons.

INT. HYPERION - ENGINEERING
LARSON looks up at the screen as order flash through. He shifts aside to another console and commences a warp core shut-down, as well at powering down all but the impulse generators.

EXT. SPACE
The nacelle glow diminishes until nothing, and we see a burst from the main impulse engines.

INT. HYPERION - BRIDGE
The planet now fills the viewscreen, and the bridge has fallen silent. CONNEL stands over MILLER's shoulder.
CONNELL: Anything?
MILLER: Mostly desert, some bodies of water. What looks like the remains of a colony. I'm picking up a single band low energy emission, very weak, but worth starting there.
CONNELL: Ok, send it to the helm...
A buzzing comes from CONNELL's chair, and everyone goes silent. He steps over to it and picks up the comm unit.
He flicks it on.
CONNELL: Hello?
H (V.O.): I can see you, you know.
CONNELL: And you are?

INT. HYPERION - CREW LOUNGE
The entire command crew litter the edges and sofas of the crew lounge. CONNELL stands in the corner leaning against the wall. BRUGGEMAN struts back and forth with his hands in is pockets.
BRUGGEMAN: Who do you think he is?
MILLER: We should hold the speculation until he's here.
CONNELL: That's a good idea.
BRUGGEMAN sits down as the door opens and H walks in, escorted by LEICESTER. No one speaks.
H: Oppressive much?
BRUGGEMAN: Take a seat.
He does, and still no one speaks. H looks around waiting for someone to start. He smiles a little.
H: Do you even know why you're here?
BRUGGEMAN: Enlighten us.
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