Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by bobjuh, Nov 21, 2019.
Again, I said if they are expected to be operational for many weeks / months on end, you need a larger crew. You can't run people on 12-hour shifts (or 6-on/6-off) for long periods of time. Trust me on this; most of my 26-year military career was working rotating shifts to cover a 24/7/365 mission. I've been on several deployments and field exercises with minimum manning; I've worked plenty of 12-hour shifts. Two weeks with no days off is about the max a person can handle before starting to burn out. Tired people make mistakes. You don't want that in space.
If it's a small ship that has a home base, so it goes out and back for a few days (no more than about two weeks), then, sure, no problem with a small crew. You can reduce the duty positions by doubling up on tasks. Just put two people on the bridge, a pilot-in-command and co-pilot if you will. They will share flying, navigation, communications, and sensors. The ship's commander and second-in-command will work opposite shifts. I'd still want at least two people in the engine room at all times (save for quick restroom / meal breaks). Ergo, if you're insisting on 12-hour shifts (or 6&6), then you only need two teams of four people. There's eight of your crew. So, yes, you can make it work with 12-15 people.
On the other hand, if this was my ship/story (but it's not!), I would go with three teams, and at least a third person on the bridge, which brings it up to 15 people. I'd round the crew out with another 6 to 10 specialists (medic, gunners, etc), or more depending on the mission statement and combat capabilities of the ship. The ship I'm writing about is a patrol cutter with a crew of about a hundred. It's small but is still a fully capable warship that goes out for six months or more at a time, so it has three 5-man teams each on the bridge and in engineering, accounting for a third of the crew.
I've worked on similar ideas for my own concept in the past, but for an original ship idea not what's being based on here (essentially a single deck, long-range scout/explorer that goes out for a few months flying an arc through unknown space scanning everything it can and investigating nothing further).
I came out to 24 crew - 3 shifts of 8 people. 3 on the bridge, 2 in Engineering, 1 in Medical and 2 as Security/gopher/fill-in for whatever needs temporarily filling in. Plus maybe once a week an extra 2 hour shift doing administrative/logistical duties if necessary.
Depending on the era you choose for your stories, a small scout assigned to longer missions would make sense. For instance, in my series, set right after the end of the Dominion War, Starfleet losses necessitated having small scouts and even runabouts patrolling sectors that used to be guarded by starships. Having a crew pulling a longer-than-usual mission under these circumstances while shouldering the burden of trying to run a ship with insufficient personnel might have some great story-telling potential.
Honestly, bobjuh, it's your story. Write it how you want to write it, with whatever crew assignments work for you to tell the tale you want to tell. If people don't like it, they don't have to read it. I'll reiterate what I said before: Have fun. That is the first, last and most important part of telling stories, so don't get too caught up in the minutiae here. And anyway, nothing says your first draft is going to be your only draft or that you can't tweak things later.
But first, just write and have fun.
For me when I write my fan fiction I tend to stay away from established characters. For example when i write mt fan fiction it is set 20 years after the events of STO and make the universe my own doing things that would make sense in the Trek timeline. I think the trap a lot of fic writers do is mess with established characters too much my advice to make it your own.
I've done both (I LOVE writing for Seven of Nine).
I've also created my own characters.
I tend to stay away from established characters because what ever I do might come of as a little too "fan ficy" as using established characters for me i might be temped to go too far.
Same here. I love writing Jean-Luc (even though he can be VERY tough to get right) but I'm also cool with creating my own. What I also like doing is "expand" characters that weren't given much screentime.
I use the "AU" (or Alternate Universe) tag. (I like to play with Seven's weapons. Just WHAT is she packing that Voyager didn't find?)
It allows me to write what I want (and I usually have people coming along for the ride ).
AUs are fine so long as you let people know what they're in for.
Agreed. I don't mind seeing "real" Trek characters popping in for a brief cameo role, but I think it's best if you write about new characters. You'll have a blank slate to work with, and thus you won't have to worry about getting "everything right" to match all known data about the "real" cast.
What's wrong with something being fanficcy? None of us are getting paid for this. XD I write canon characters because they're the ones I love. I write OCs when they make a good story. I write canon characters and OCs being friendly or in relationships or whatever with each other because why not? It's still all down to being a labor of love, so write what you want to write.
Can't really add much that hasn't already been said: focus on the characters, just get writing, etc.
What I would add, on a ship that size with just 15 officers and crew aboard, I'd suspect they'd be more generalists than specialists, with all of them being trained to man any station as required. That way you wouldn't have to double up on posts, so that during emergency/tactical situations with the CO, Conn, Ops and Tac crewmembers in place, a complement of engineers in the engine room, the remaining crew are ready for damage control, security cover or carrying out first aid, whilst during normal operations then you'd have the bridge covered by either the Conn/Ops/Tac operator and a deckhand for support, a couple of crew in engineering and one floater (e.g. corpsman, deckhands, security chief), whilst the staff of another shift is sleeping and the third is enjoying some downtime.
But that's just my rambling thoughts.
I have to agree with SGT G 110%. I too deployed overseas and worked a zillion 12 hour shifts. We made our Sunday's a "reduced battle rhythm" so we had a skeleton crew and worked about a 6 hours shift that day. And yep, I suppose if your crew has the "best and brightest", and you are doing nothing but investigating gas giants, that's great, but when the $h!t hits the fan, and you need all hands on deck, battle fatigue creeps in. Meaning, its OK when the enemy attacks DURING your shift, but when you need all hands on deck on your off hours, that sucks, cuz once the crisis is over you, either go back to bed for a few hours or might as well stay up as you are coming up on your shift.
For the non-military types, imagine cramming for a test and being up 16 hours straight, but you never get any downtime, that when you start to get crabby.
And yep, I don't want to get in the weeds about shift planning and crew complements, but I always raise an eyebrow to fan fic writers (and professional writers too), when he/she has a bare bones crew and they operate at their peak.
See i cant do that or ill ship all the male characters together and it just becomes a mess lol
Write to make yourself happy. If I'm writing anything, it needs to first please me - there's no way I can hope it will entertain anyone else if it can't even entertain myself.
Would anyone here be up for a collaboration of some kind? I find it can be fun to bounce ideas and energy off each other.
Not sure about crew size for the ~78 meter ship. It might be able to function as fully automated in the 24th Century. If it has a crew, 15 would be small by todays standards for a military vessel. Though there are merchant vessels of roughly that size with crews of 10-20, looking at various Naval and Coast Guard vessels in the 70m to 85m range, typical crew sizes are between 40-100. However, far greater advances in AI and automation may bring that number down significantly, possibly to not needing any crew. That however would not make for a great story.
My usual 'go to' for a naval 'small boy' is the Australian Armidale-class patrol boat -- particularly as showcased on Nine Network's Sea Patrol:
Three officers (CO, XO/1st LT, Second Officer [LT, SLT or Middie]); 1 CPO (usually the ChEng?), a handful of JNCOs (Killicks or Leaders; E4 to E6) and the balance of the 21-29 crew are Ordinary or Able Seaman (E1 or E2 rated).
Information on US Coast Guard manning levels beyond basic numbers and occasionally CO ranks is tricky, the closest USN vessels would be Mine Warfare Vessels like the 68m Avenger-class, with 6-8 officers (CO [LTCDR], XO [LT], CHEng [LT], OPS, SUPPO, 1stLT, DC Asst [LTJG] & CICO/TAO [ENS]) and 73-75 enlisted (COMMO & SUPPO [SCPO], ENG [CPO], Boatswain and "Doc" [CPO], the rest PO1 or below. You might be able to trim out a few personnel as I have my doubts that unrated personnel would be deployed*, but IFAIK that's never been more than 10-15% of the enlisted manpower for a "small boy".
*For instance, Simon Tarses' initial rank before promotion of Crewman Medical Technician logically corresponds to Hospitalman Hospitalman (A Medical Department "rated seaman" of E3).
The Armidale is listed as a little under 57 meters and with a "Standard" complement of 21. So they are quite a bit smaller than the Wallace class. I dont have any problems for the nearly 80 meter ships of the class having 15 odd crew because of automation. I doubt more than a handful would need to be on duty at any given moment on such a smallish vessel.
The US Navy had and still has, a very limited inventory of sub-frigate vessels, and no frigates today. Other navies have smaller vessels, including "Corvettes", which are what some navies call the next size vessel beneath a frigate. The Coast Guard provides the Cutters and boats that occupy most of the smaller tonnage vessels. US cutters run from small frigate sized, thru corvette and down to larger patrol boats. Their boat forces go down below that.
But I think the artificial intelligence running the automated functions can easily keep crew sizes down.
Which is why I offered the much larger crew of the Avenger-class for comparison. It's 68m so only slightly smaller than the Wallace, but has a crew roughly five times the size of the proposed.
An alternative comparison would be the manning levels of the canon Defiant-class, scaled down for the size, which would IMO favor around 50-60% of the Defiant's numbers (so 20-33 depending on mission profile).
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