Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of awards from our recent 2023 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write, and imagine their characters as well as their out of character contributions and achievements.
This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Lieutenant Nathan Richards playing a male human Engineering Officer assigned to Amity Outpost. He won the Silver Palm AND the Sheathed Sword. The Palm is “awarded to individuals who are renowned to offer that spark to a plot when it is lagging, or to consistently bring fun or a touch of humour to the sim, while keeping such sims current and realistic. They constantly raise their crew’s morale in a variety of methods” and the Sword to “individuals who choose to inflict mental and/or physical suffering on their character, then dig into the following feelings and decisions in a realistic manner. The term is derived from a passage in a Robert Jordan novel in which a warrior must be prepared to ‘sheath the sword’ in their own body, i.e. incur a painful wound to attain one’s objective (in this case, more realistic simming) rather than a genuine aim of the character.”
Promontory: Tell us a little about yourself as a writer — what do you particularly like about writing in the Star Trek universe?
INTERVIEWEE: ? Well, I’ve been writing since I was fairly young. Around my hometown there wasn’t much to do that interested me growing up so I spent a majority of my time either playing video games, or living in my own imagination as I created these other worlds on paper. I grew up watching TNG with my dad, and ever since I first laid eyes on the Enterprise-D and witnessed everything that the Star Trek Universe had to offer, it captivated me and a good majority of my writing revolved around Star Trek. The thing that really pulled me into writing in the Star Trek Universe was the fact that so much of the science and technology was rooted in fact and actual theories that may not have been tangible at the time they were first realized onscreen, but seemed doable in reality in the future. I enjoy exploring that aspect of the writing. Being able to see what has been done in Trek History and adding to it while exploring new concepts and imagining and writing how these things could play out and the possibility of seeing the ‘practical use’ of new technologies and theories in a Universe that is essentially our future has and always will be a sight to behold.
Both the Silver Palm and Sheathed Sword are given to those who keep their sims realistic. What do you do to ensure that your writing is grounded?
In all of my writing, both inside SB118 and out, I try to see the actions and dialogue as if it is happening right in front of me. Certain situations may call for a bit more embellishment, while a majority of them tend to just work when visualized. If it is something that I wouldn’t be able to believe if it happened right in front of me, I try not to write it. My characters actions, expressions, and word choice all come from this perspective by putting myself mentally into the situations that the character is in and, again, asking myself as I’m writing “Would/could this really be happening?” I don’t know if that approach makes sense to anyone else, but it works for me which is what matters I suppose.
The Sheathed Sword is specifically given for inflicting pain on your character. What have you put Nathan through and why did you choose to do so?
I see physical and mental pain as a good motivator for character development. I have put Nathan through more physical and mental pain and stress than any character before as sort of a test of my writing abilities to see how I can handle the character changes over time.
When Nathan was in high school, his youngest sister was attacked by a bear and had unfortunately passed from the injuries. Nathan was of course the one to come across the scene and ended up fighting the bear and almost losing his life to the bear as well. This life event played a big part in Nathan being a mostly selfless and protective individual, caring more about others safety over his own, not wanting to see what happened to his sister happen to anyone else.
During Nathan’s first mission aboard Amity Outpost, there was an unfortunate series of events that resulted in Nathan being injured by a pair of probes, gaining him a fancy, golden, prosthetic arm. In this situation, it started off as just wanting it to happen just to see it happen, but it evolved into much more as the character developed in a direction that I hadn’t originally planned on with gaining a shuttle project and eventually, a love interest.
How do you balance humor, fun, and realism?
I, myself, tend to lean on humor in many situations in my own life and try to get my characters to do the same at some points. If there isn’t humor in your writing, it can lead to a very dull read in my opinion. I don’t feel like I’ve necessarily found a balance between humor, fun and realism. In my writing I tend to go with the flow and write what makes the most sense at the time while trying to stick with what I said above. I guess you could say I ground everything I write in realism while trying to be fun and funny.
What suggestions would you give a new writer who wants to improve the quality of their sims? Specially, how would you counsel them around realistic writing that incorporates humor, pain, and plot development?
I think the best advice I could give a new writer would be to try and see it as if they were in whatever situation they were trying to write. Not as if they were the character, but as if it was happening right in front of them. If they are sitting there and watching the scene unfold before their eyes, what would their ‘realistically’ be doing? How would the character ‘realistically’ react? Would it be an emotional response? Would they crack a joke? Where would the plot ‘realistically’ go from there? Where would their character and the other characters involved ‘realistically’ go from there? I have found that, for my writing at least, everything cannot be rooted solely in the imagination. The imagination can come up with some beautiful and amazing concepts and stories, but do they really fit in the category of ‘realistic?’
What’s next for your character?
Honestly, I’m not too sure at this point. I have a relationship (or ‘situationship’ as it is being called) to explore between my character and another, and who knows what future missions and plot lines may hold? I have plans for a few new projects that I will be diving into in the near future that will be some fun developments. My ultimate goal is to get Nathan into a Chief Engineer position eventually, but for now, I am just going with the flow, scene by scene.
Thanks for your time, Lieutenant Richards!
You can read more about Lieutenant Nathan Richards on the wiki.