RSS iconTwitter iconFacebook icon

The Trek BBS title image

The Trek BBS statistics

Threads: 139,091
Posts: 5,399,283
Members: 24,737
Currently online: 417
Newest member: jonjps246

TrekToday headlines

Star Trek Seekers Cover Art
By: T'Bonz on Aug 27

Fan Film Axanar Kickstarter Success
By: T'Bonz on Aug 27

Two New Starship Collection Ships
By: T'Bonz on Aug 26

Trek Actor Wins Emmy
By: T'Bonz on Aug 26

Trek Retro Watches
By: T'Bonz on Aug 26

New DS9 eBook To Debut
By: T'Bonz on Aug 25

Trek Ice Cube Maker and Shot Glasses
By: T'Bonz on Aug 25

City on the Edge of Forever #3 Preview
By: T'Bonz on Aug 25

TV Alert: Shatner TNG Documentary
By: T'Bonz on Aug 25

Forbes Cast In Powers
By: T'Bonz on Aug 22


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 > Future of Trek

Future of Trek Discussion of future Trek projects.

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old October 4 2013, 06:04 PM   #1
David.Blue
Lieutenant Commander
 
David.Blue's Avatar
 
What Makes Good Writing?

Since folks want to discuss this, I thought an actual thread devoted to same made some sense.

Just to make it clear, I'm a playwright and reviewer as well as having worked on a five year "virtual spinoff" online (of Buffy).

Personally, and this is my own way of approaching things, good writing seems to me to boil down to character and rhythm.

By character I mean the specifics of how the lead characters as complex individuals react to the world around them. Please note how I worded that. Not "what they are like" and "how they look at things" but "how they react." Partially this comes from my theatre training. The people who play the parts are called actors not feelers or thinkers or be-ers (beings?). As in "to act." Said action can be subtle, may well consist of listening, but it needs to be a genuine reaction to what is happening.

Which brings me to rhythm. Consider breath. No one can breathe by exhaling all the time. You need to inhale. And you need the pauses between each. So too in terms of storytelling. The most compelling stories consist of an interplay between rising and falling action, between different levels and styles of energy to make a whole.

On of the best examples of how character interplays with action in Star Trek is in WOK when Kirk talks to people before the action suddenly picks up. When he discusses his age with Bones, the concept of humor with Saavik, taking command with Spock, how to meet a crisis with Carol Marcus and David and Saavik--all these create tension by leaving some question unresolved. More, they begin with something unsaid or some situation that increases tension. And each precede a period of rising action, when things get "exciting." Sometimes that is humorous (like Saavik taking the helm) or uplifting (Kirk taking command of Enterprise again) or thrilling (the windup to the final confrontation with Khan and Reliant).

What a writer should aim for is to integrate all this together without striking a lot of wrong notes. Character and rhythm need to work hand-in-hand.

For example, I've many problems with STID but the emotions of Kirk after seeing Pike die seemed totally clear-cut. His eagerness to break the rules out of revenge, to seize upon the excuse Admiral Marcus gives him seems totally spot on. What I don't quite like is how rushed the scenes seemed. Kirk came across as nothing but a fairly stupid hothead. Instead of someone with a genuine boiling fury, he looked and acted like someone perpetually on the edge, flying by the seat of his pants. The whole "letting Scotty go" felt rushed and frankly make subsequent actions scenes less effective. Nothing wrong with the idea, not at all. But the rhythm indicated a far less interesting and less identifiable character, while going for an explosion when a burning fuse seemed more appropriate.

It still worked. But IMHO a slight alteration would have worked better, by buidling tension rather than just another firecracker going off.

Now in the first Abrams Trek the meeting of Kirk and Bones worked very well indeed. The hectic getting onto the shuttles, the last minute decision by Kirk, the interaction between these two men who are both taking a big plunge into a new life--all that was like this lovely haiku of screenwriting. It really was very very good! And it was preceded by Kirk reacting without words to all sorts of things, including Pike's words to him and the sight of a starship under construction. Nice!

But look at how awkwardly it could be handled, this idea of dialogue setting things up. At its worst, all you get is exposition where someone shares facts and/or says how they feel. Frankly, this was a chronic problem in TNG, sooner or later showing up in the other Berman-Treks. I still cringe at Picard saying to Riker "Can you imagine--hating each other because of different economic systems?"

But that's my couple of pennies. Seems to me perfectly rational well-meaning folks can disagree. I for one hope to learn something from replies to this.
__________________
David.Blue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 06:16 PM   #2
BillJ
Admiral
 
BillJ's Avatar
 
Location: Covington, Ky.
View BillJ's Twitter Profile
Re: What Makes Good Writing?

Good writing means different things to different people.

I'm simply not sure it's something you can define.
__________________
"I tell you what you all need, you need to take a thirteenth step, down off your high horse." - Hank Hill, King of the Hill
BillJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 06:19 PM   #3
Andymator
Lieutenant Commander
 
Andymator's Avatar
 
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Re: What Makes Good Writing?

While we're at it, what makes good food?
Andymator is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 06:53 PM   #4
grendelsbayne
Commander
 
grendelsbayne's Avatar
 
Location: Netherlands
Re: What Makes Good Writing?

Pizza. Pizza makes good food.

And bismarks from Jolly Pirate Donuts.

And my grandmother's broccoli casserole.
grendelsbayne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 07:03 PM   #5
BigJake
Rear Admiral
 
BigJake's Avatar
 
Location: No matter where you go, there you are.
Re: What Makes Good Writing?

This thread is a good idea, David, thanks for putting it up. I'll try to post a reply later this evening.
__________________
It's got electrolytes!
"I wanna read more" - Dennis "I . . . agree with everything you said" - SPCTRE "I blame Cracked" - J. Allen "Take me off" - The Stig
BigJake is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 07:16 PM   #6
Andymator
Lieutenant Commander
 
Andymator's Avatar
 
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Re: What Makes Good Writing?

grendelsbayne wrote: View Post

... And my grandmother's broccoli casserole.
Yeah, but here's the thing; brocolli tastes really bad.

Now don't get me wrong! It's totally okay for you to like it, but you just have to be honest about how it's crappy food and you like it anyway.
Andymator is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 07:18 PM   #7
BillJ
Admiral
 
BillJ's Avatar
 
Location: Covington, Ky.
View BillJ's Twitter Profile
Re: What Makes Good Writing?

Andymator wrote: View Post
grendelsbayne wrote: View Post

... And my grandmother's broccoli casserole.
Yeah, but here's the thing; brocolli tastes really bad.

Now don't get me wrong! It's totally okay for you to like it, but you just have to be honest about how it's crappy food and you like it anyway.
__________________
"I tell you what you all need, you need to take a thirteenth step, down off your high horse." - Hank Hill, King of the Hill
BillJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 07:21 PM   #8
grendelsbayne
Commander
 
grendelsbayne's Avatar
 
Location: Netherlands
Re: What Makes Good Writing?

Andymator wrote: View Post
grendelsbayne wrote: View Post

... And my grandmother's broccoli casserole.
Yeah, but here's the thing; brocolli tastes really bad.

Now don't get me wrong! It's totally okay for you to like it, but you just have to be honest about how it's crappy food and you like it anyway.
No, no, no - you just need to realize that broccoli is truly one of the best foods ever, and anyway, certainly isn't any worse than cauliflower! I don't know why people have such a need to attack broccoli, which clearly has no real flaws, because so many people do eat it.
grendelsbayne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 07:26 PM   #9
Andymator
Lieutenant Commander
 
Andymator's Avatar
 
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Re: What Makes Good Writing?



Ladies and gentlemen we'll be here all night! Tip your waitresses!
Andymator is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 07:31 PM   #10
BigJake
Rear Admiral
 
BigJake's Avatar
 
Location: No matter where you go, there you are.
Re: What Makes Good Writing?

I love Peeps. I recommend them to my neice as the cornerstone of a healthy, balanced diet, since the fact that I like them obviously makes that true.

(So for reals, are we just importing the infighting and cheap shots from the other thread into this one? Are we planning on spreading them over both threads? Can I vote for Neither of the Above and we actually just try to tackle the thread topic seriously? What do people want?)
__________________
It's got electrolytes!
"I wanna read more" - Dennis "I . . . agree with everything you said" - SPCTRE "I blame Cracked" - J. Allen "Take me off" - The Stig
BigJake is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 07:33 PM   #11
grendelsbayne
Commander
 
grendelsbayne's Avatar
 
Location: Netherlands
Re: What Makes Good Writing?

Anyway - leaving that slight thread jack behind, I thought I might say a little bit on the subject at hand.

Bad writing, I think, is writing that interferes with itself. When the point of the story is to show the greatness of Empire A, and all I see in the film is Empire A acting idiotically and everyone around them just constantly reaffirming their greatness anyway, that's bad writing.

When the point of the story is to show the ridiculous absurdity of event b, but nothing in the story actually gets anywhere near being funny or absurd, that's bad writing.

There is also, of course, the possibility of slightly less bad writing, which sort of occasionally interferes with itself in more minor points, without ruining the main point of the story.
grendelsbayne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 07:35 PM   #12
BillJ
Admiral
 
BillJ's Avatar
 
Location: Covington, Ky.
View BillJ's Twitter Profile
Re: What Makes Good Writing?

BigJake wrote: View Post
I love Peeps. I recommend them to my neice as the cornerstone of a healthy, balanced diet, since the fact that I like them obviously makes that true.

(So for reals, are we just importing the infighting and cheap shots from the other thread into this one? Are we planning on spreading them over both threads? Can I vote for Neither of the Above and we actually just try to tackle the thread topic seriously? What do people want?)
Why can't we do both?
__________________
"I tell you what you all need, you need to take a thirteenth step, down off your high horse." - Hank Hill, King of the Hill
BillJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 07:42 PM   #13
dub
Fleet Captain
 
dub's Avatar
 
Location: Location? What is this?
Re: What Makes Good Writing?

grendelsbayne wrote: View Post
Pizza. Pizza makes good food.
Definitely pizza. Haters gonna hate. If you don't like it, you're in the minority and you're an elitist. With more than 65,000 pizza restaurants, $36.2 billion worth of pizza was sold in 2010, according to the trade publication PMQ Pizza Magazine. It makes huge profits. People are buying it. That means it's good. Period. I can't imagine why people would say over and over how much they hate pizza and keep shoving their reasons down our throats. Nobody ever complains about other food. Only pizza.

LittleCaeserSucks wrote:
The way they make pizza today makes me sick. It's bigger, more colorful, but it's really just oozing with grease and artificial flavors. Where's the real stuff? They shine all sorts of bright lights on it, but that's not fooling me. I miss the days when a tomato was a tomato. Papa John is an idiot and you guys are idiots for eating the crap he serves!
That's your opinion. Billion$ of other taste buds can't be wrong.

Papa John wrote:
I make better pizza with better ingredients. Screw the haters.
See...now they're making the people in the kitchen mad. It's embarrassing. If we're not careful, the cooks will go back to making (*gasp*) original crust pizza. Ugh. Long live today's pizza! Pizza is here to stay. Get over it.
dub is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 07:53 PM   #14
BillJ
Admiral
 
BillJ's Avatar
 
Location: Covington, Ky.
View BillJ's Twitter Profile
Re: What Makes Good Writing?

dub wrote: View Post
That means it's good. Period.
It means that some people like it. Who am I to tell them that their personal tastes (and taste buds) are wrong?
__________________
"I tell you what you all need, you need to take a thirteenth step, down off your high horse." - Hank Hill, King of the Hill
BillJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 4 2013, 08:17 PM   #15
Andymator
Lieutenant Commander
 
Andymator's Avatar
 
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Re: What Makes Good Writing?

BigJake wrote: View Post
I love Peeps. I recommend them to my neice as the cornerstone of a healthy, balanced diet, since the fact that I like them obviously makes that true.

(So for reals, are we just importing the infighting and cheap shots from the other thread into this one? Are we planning on spreading them over both threads? Can I vote for Neither of the Above and we actually just try to tackle the thread topic seriously? What do people want?)
Oh, lighten up buttercup. I was just ribbing you. Some kidding around, and not to mention being completely relevant to the topic of the thread. There's no infighting or cheap shots going on.
Andymator 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 12:56 PM.

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