Was Roddenberry a Terrible Writer?

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by Captain Clark Terrell, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Frankly, I doubt it, and I say that without casting aspersions on your abilities. :)

    Screenwriting is a very peculiar form. It looks deceptively easy. It isn't. You have to be able to write very economically because every page is a minute of screentime (45 seconds for TV), which means figuring out how little you can get away with to get tell the story. You really need to kill your darlings, and pare out anything unessential because every word is golden.

    Then there's this very difficult trick of writing dialog which creates the illusion of natural conversation, but no one actually speaks with the precision that film characters do. Said dialog also has to sound right coming out of the mouth of an actor, which is something prose writers don't have to deal with.

    Oh yeah, and then you have to accommodate all the production requirements (something which can be filmed under the budget) and also all the requests for tweaks to make roles more attractive to specific actors. I'm speaking from professional experience here.
     
  2. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Whyever might we ever think you were writing that kind of fanfic when you were just spilling out effusive words inspired by your passionate love of MAN-THING?
     
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    MAN-THING sounds like a sexual euphemism.
     
  4. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Forgive me, but I've a hard time seeing how you could make such a comparison if none of your work has been displayed in a public forum. Subjective terms like better will always be in the eye of the beholder, but it stands to reason that the beholder is able to view any item of interest within its proper context. Saying that you could write a screenplay superior to Gene Roddenberry entails putting together a screenplay that's actually viewed and scrutinized by the public as Gene's were. Writing a document that's never seen by anyone outside of your home or office doesn't cut it.

    --Sran
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Right. That's the difference between a hobby and a profession. It's easy to say "I could write better than that" when you don't actually have to compete for a finite number of slots with a large number of other writers. Professionals have to write stuff that's better than 99.9% of what other people are writing and submitting. That's not something you can just slap together on your first try, unless you're amazingly gifted or amazingly lucky.
     
  6. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    And I would estimate that only a small number of people could actually pull that off (impromptu writing of a screenplay or novel). Even talented and accomplished writers have editors and publishers to whom they must submit their work before it lands in a bookstore.

    I don't know much about your profession beyond what I've heard through the grapevine, but it would seem that novels are revised and tweaked extensively before they're accepted for publication. From the first outline to the book's final draft, I'd imagine any number of things about a story could change- and not because the story content is bad or inappropriate, but because it doesn't fit with the surrounding content or because it's a topic that's already been touched on in another novel and doesn't need to be revisited.

    And even saying all of this doesn't take into account the numerous story ideas that have been pitched to editors and publishers and subsequently rejected before an author even had the chance to put pen to paper.

    --Sran
     
  7. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ah! I see this discussion's churning, nicely ... Now, we're cooking with gas, are we not, Gentlemen? But, perhaps, I did presume upon the Privilege of a Guest, when I boasted that I could write better than even GR, himself. When I Channel My Inner Two Takes Frakes, the results are invariably that of increased vigor and confidence. But I would never be secure enough to admit to writing Fan Fiction about Man Thing (were I ever so inclined to do so)! However ...

    Jean "Moebius" Giraud, is a "hero" of mine.
     
  8. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Okay, I sure set myself up for that one . . . :)

    [Insert GIANT-SIZED MAN-THING joke here.]
     
  9. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's a long story. ;)
     
  10. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    I do wonder how much blame lies with the story's premise of needing to incorporate all the holdover stuff from the Phase II pilot (ie, the relaunch of the Enterprise). Those elements were one of Roddenberry's contributions, but they were in light of it being the pilot episode of a proposed TV series, intended to get viewers up to speed with why the Enterprise looks different, what the crew have been up to etc.

    But the TOS writer's guide (and even the Phase II writer's guide) takes great pains to declare that Earth is out-of-bounds as a setting, because the Star Trek format is about exploring strange new worlds, not necessarily about Earth. TMP, on the other hand, starts a trend of Star Trek stories that revolve in one way or another around trips to and from Earth, with Earth as the home base. The rest of the TOS movies use the same template, but it was atypical of Star Trek to be so Earth-centric.

    So one of TMP's problems is that it's all about mother Earth. The threat is a threat to Earth. This makes it a big stake, but it does mean that the usual Star Trek trope of the Enterprise being the only ship in range, justifiable in context of being in deep space, does seem a little WEIRD when she's parked in Earth's orbit! :D

    IIRC the original Alan Dean Foster story treatment actually had the story begin 'out there', with the Enterprise encountering the V'Ger cloud while on a routine mission, just like it would in any episode of TOS. One can't help wonder if this might have flowed better as a movie, than having to go through all the carried over Phase II stuff about the Enterprise being refitted and relaunched.
     
  11. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    Morbius
     
  12. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    I think this is a very good point, and I think it's an excellent question to wonder whether the blame for the Enterprise being the only available ship is traceable, at least in part, to this shift in setting.

    However, I don't consider the Earth scenes themselves to be a problem. The space shots orbiting Earth are among the finest FX shots in the whole film series. Frankly, those space shots are among the redeeming elements that mitigate the film's more serious flaws, especially in story and in just being boring. Would I miss those shots if the rest of the film were fixed, but set entirely away from Earth? Impossible to say.
     
  13. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Yep, I meant Morbius the Living Vampire, not Moebius.

    And speaking of fanfic writers going pro, can I brag that, decades later, I actually sold a Morbius story to Marvel? (Check out WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #120).

    Not one of my old stories from junior high, I hasten to add!
     
  14. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I wouldn't mind seeing your GIANT-SIZED MAN-THING. :lol:
    Come on somebody had to say it.

    I mean you must have a copy somewhere.

    I thought a few years ago I might write some fanfic (since no-one else has seen fit to write one about Spock and Saavik's secret Genesis love child) but its a heck of a lot harder than it appears and I stopped before the first word was typed into my computer.
    I'm sure GR on his worst day (aside from the JFK thing) would be a thousand times better than myself. I can't speak for 2takesfrakes though. He might have some professional experience for all we know.
    I thought I heard that some movies have been written by first time writers though
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No movie is filmed verbatim from a first-draft script. There's a ton of rewriting at multiple hands, no matter how experienced the original screenwriter is.

    And a first-time seller isn't the same as a first-time writer. I'd been writing unsold stories for seven years before I made my first sale, and that's not atypical. It's often said that your first million words are practice.
     
  16. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Very well said and food for thought, for any would-be writer.