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Coming soon: Fleetwide Plot Arc

Courtesy of Commander Nugra, please take this opportunity to learn a little more about a completely new way of simming in our community!

Q: What is the Fleet Wide Plot Arc?
A: The Fleetwide Plot Arc (or what I like to call the FWPA ’15) is a storyline that effects the SB118 universe. It is an event or happening that all ships will know about and vessels have a chance to participate and influence what is happening. Think of it like a massive sim where instead of players moving the plot forward, it will be the vessels that wish to play.

Q: Is it like the Summer Blockbusters?
A: Yes! But instead of being just a few short months, the story (or event) will have effects/ramifications that will cover the year. Think of it like a plot that covers a season of a television series.

Q: What’s the status of the first arc?
A: It is almost done. There is a lot of planning and coordination going on behind the scenes to make this an enjoyable experience. The tentative date to launch is February of 2015.

Q: What’s your desired timescale for implementation?
A: The implementation timeline is pretty much done. That is why we did not have a summer blockbuster for this year. The time and energy went into getting this story all taken care of so we have quality instead of quantity.

Q: If people want to learn more, where can they look?
A: At the moment, there is nothing released to the public, but I highly suggest you watch the forums because I will be posting content there relatively soon! There will be stuff for you to look up and read, it just has to get finished!

Q: If people want to help out, what can they do?
A: Talk to your captains! Express to them your desire to help and your interest in the idea. The FWPA is to foster community morale and spirit. There is going to be quite a bit you can do. There will be phases to the story and the FWPA Facilitators are going to need reports (we have the forms) and wiki updates to tell us what your ship is doing! For now, the best thing is to let your captain know if you are excited about this idea!

As Cmdr. Nugra says, the best thing to do now is to watch the forums! More will be coming very soon about FWPA ’15, “The Prometheus Event.”

How can I be a Writing Challenge guest judge?

You may have noticed, at the end of every announcement of Writing Challenge winners and runners-up, that there’s a short paragraph thanking each of the judges. While many of the judges are the same from challenge to challenge, there’s also usually a note thanking a special guest judge. But who are these guest judges? How are they chosen?

Winning a Writing Challenge comes with a fair number of perks: You not only get to choose the next challenge and request a snazzy winner’s banner, you can also serve as a judge for the next round. Because the previous round’s winner picks the next round’s theme, s/he won’t be able to enter a story, so acting as a guest judge for the round is an extra bonus: You not only get to pick the theme, you also get to judge how close to your vision the round’s writers interpreted it!

However, guest judges aren’t made up solely of the winners of previous rounds. Starting in mid-2014, runners-up were also approached about being guest judges, though it wasn’t until the current round that any of them decided that they would like to do so. However, the result will be a great panel of judges for the November & December Writing Challenge: Not only the usual judges, but also the writers behind Ensigns Nathaniel Wilmer and Leland Bishop and Ambassador Della Vetri. It’ll be wonderful!

Don’t forget, the November & December challenge, “Love & Betrayal,” is now open! Head over to the Writing Challenge forums to learn more and submit your own entry.

One-Year Recognition Joins Member Service Awards

That’s right: This year, for the first time, members who have been a part of the UFOP: SB118 for one year will be recognized with this new award! Member service awards have previously been given to those members who have written for three, five, or ten years with the group — but now, anyone who has a year behind him or her will receive some recognition as well. The new award was approved unanimously by the Captains Council and will be given out for the first time during the 2014 Awards Ceremony.

The original suggestion for the one-year service award came out of a general membership forums discussion. The suggestion to implement a ribbon of completion for successfully making it through the Academy also came from that thread; the idea is currently under review on the Captains Council. This is an excellent example of how normal discussions can make real changes in our group, so always remember that anyone’s voice, whether they’re ranked ensign or admiral, can be heard!

Please read more about this award, as well as all the other general awards, on the wiki!

The Top 100 Star Trek Episodes

io9, a daily blog for science fiction and all that has to do with science and the future, has recently released an article, “The Top 100 Star Trek Episodes Of All Time!,” that’s sure to be as polarizing as it is exhaustive. The list considers all five television series and offers a few thoughts regarding each pick. Although the final ranking was done thanks to the editors, the contenders were all determined via comments on the site. The top ten from the list:

  1. TOS: “Balance of Terror”
  2. TNG: “The Best of Both Worlds”
  3. TOS: “The City on the Edge of Forever”
  4. DS9: “The Visitor”
  5. TNG: “Darmok”
  6. TOS: “The Trouble With Tribbles”
  7. DS9: “In the Pale Moonlight”
  8. TNG: “The Inner Light”
  9. TNG: “All Good Things…”
  10. TOS: “Mirror, Mirror”

What do you think about this list? Why not discuss it on our forums and discuss your own favorites with members of our community? Take a look at our General Discussion forums and let everyone know what you think!

Nathaniel Wilmer Wins “Run Shivers Down My Spine” Writing Challenge

Many and varied congratulations to the writer behind Nathaniel Wilmer, the winner of the “Run Shivers Down My Spine” Writing Challenge! His winning story, “Heritage of the Lost,” impressed the judges amidst a strong and varied field of great contenders. In fact, the Challenge hasn’t seen so many contestants in many months, which made this winning story especially memorable. According to the judges, “Heritage of the Lost” stood out especially:

…dropping the descriptions of Charlotte Farnsworth’s life in between the the status of the antiquated house played well throughout the story, and made the reader want to know more about her, and of her mad grandfather. … Wilmer’s strong command of the English language, grabbed this reader’s attention and never failed to deliver the unwritten promise of  the drama and suspense of Charlotte’s heritage, and when the end came, all he had written came to life all over again.  “Trelane.” Charlotte choked on the name. “Your name… is… Trelane….” And there was no question (or question mark) or doubt as to the identity of the specter who dwell within the pistol.

If you haven’t yet, please offer the winner, the runners-up, and all our fine writers some congratulations!

Our winner has kindly provided the theme for our November and December Writing Challenge: “Love & Betrayal.” Head over to the Writing Challenge forums to learn more!

As always, don’t forget that you can pick up a complete collection of all this round’s short stories, in PDF format, for free. Get yours here!

October 2014 Post Totals

As part of an ongoing overview of the whole fleet, we’d like to present for you the posting totals and simming trends for and through October. These number will give you some idea of how active our ships are month-to-month, as well as how the whole fleet is doing.

Simming numbers were up for most ships in October, including the Columbia, the Constitution, the Gemini, and the Victory, but especially for the Garuda, which posted that ship’s highest numbers ever! At 290, the group improved upon its September by almost 100 sims. Major kudos to Leo, aka Lieutenant Commander Nia Calderan, who is currently leading the ship as acting CO as part of his commander’s practical exam.

post totals october 2014

The whole-group average was steady around where it was in July and August, as well as back into May and even further back in February and March. Despite the many fleet changes that 2014 has welcomed, it seems that 170-180 sims per month is a fair approximation of a standard for the year. Looking back even further, you can see that for the last couple of years, September has resulted in a dip in total number of sims — but October has seen some recovery. What will November bring?

averages per month october 2014sims per month october 2014

On Writing Romantic Relationships

Editor’s note: This article first appeared as a post in the thread “Fellow crew member or PNPC?” on the Lambda Alliance forum. All credit for its content goes to the writer behind Lieutenant JG Eileen McClaren. Thank you for letting us repost it as a Writer’s Workshop article! As the thread title suggests, this is the writer’s take on writing a romantic relationship with another writer’s PC or PNPC versus creating a PNPC yourself for your character to engage in a relationship with.

For me, as a writer, it’s important to be eye-to-eye with whoever you’re collaborating with in regards to sharing the emotional narrative of a romantic relationship between characters. I’ve done it a few times before and aside from one it’s been a pleasurable and mutually engaging exercise, adding a level of complexity to the creative process, the depth of the characters overall, and provides me (and the other writer as well, hopefully, of course) the opportunity of experiencing our characters in a slightly more substantive level.

That said, making sure you’re at that point (eye-to-eye) with other writer(s) has always been key to me to assure that while I’m not trying to wrest control of the overall arc, that the arc of the relationship (whether or not it’s meant to be one that’s casual or more devoted) does have direction, progression and inertia. In other words, it takes a little bit of effort…just as relationships do. That it’s organic and not simply something being accepted by rote. (People aren’t always blissfully happy or defensive, etc.) That the evolution of the character’s experience is likewise organic, as well. (People…unless with rationally understandable cause… don’t have usually have violent and dramatic personality shifts, going from expressive to unemotive in 0.0002 seconds, etc.) Personally, I’m from the school of stream-of-consciousness writing that embraces the unplanned for but dislikes the idea of drama for drama’s own sake. Someone else might be the sort of writer that plans an arc out with an annotated outline, having very specific goals for their character’s growth and development. It’s a balancing act that mirrors, I think, the pattern in which the most stable actual relationships we have fall into. Knowing what’s expected or desired for/from one’s own character, voicing it clearly, and having empathy for the same in another’s creative expression. We get as much as we give in the creation and “life” of these beings and that should be respected by all involved parties.

Please drop by the forums if you’d like to add your thoughts to the ongoing discussion!

It’s Almost Curtains for the “Run Shivers Down My Spine” Writing Challenge

I’m sure you guys see what I did there. Don’t worry, I’ll be here all week.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and this spooky Writing Challenge is no exception! Halloween is almost upon us, which means that you have only a scant few days to submit your story. We’re looking for the best hair-raising, spine-tingling, hiding-in-the-corner-with-all-the-lights-on story you can give us, so please don’t hold back! Writes Jess, the writer behind Jalana Laxyn and the winner of our previous Challenge,

For the next challenge I would like to see something that would run shivers down our spines. Be it something unbelievable, something so touching one gets goosebumps, something so cruel you want to scream, or is it something spooky? What causes shivers for you?

Whatever your characters’ particular fears may be — the Borg, the horrors of the Dominion War, or even the neural parasites that made an attempt on Starfleet Command — be sure that your words are truly terrifying!

The judges look forward to having their pants scared off, but remember that all stories must be submitted by Saturday, October 25th. Good luck!

September 2014 Post Totals

As part of an ongoing overview of the whole fleet, please take a look at the post totals and simming trends for September 2014. These number will give you some idea of how active our ships are month-to-month, as well as how the whole fleet is doing.

Simming numbers were down a little from August to September after remaining almost unchanged from July to August. This was the opposite of the predicted trend, as fall tends to bring an upswing in simming as folks return to school (or send their kids back!). However, some changes are to be expected whenever there’s a fleet shakeup, as with the Excalibur‘s decommissioning.

 average sims per month september 2014

Individual ship simming totals are shown below. The Embassy, which posted the highest numbers for the month, actually improved from August! Atlantis and Garuda both hovered around 200 sims for September, and while those numbers were down from August, they were both vibrant and positive. The Constitution‘s launch under Commander Faranster went very well, too, with a healthy first-month showing of 163 sims — and that with not even a full month behind them!

post totals september 2014

Irina Pavlova Named July/August Writing Challenge Runner-Up

Special recognition is due to the writer named runner-up for July & August: The writer behind Irina Pavlova has regularly entered the Writing Challenges for a while now, and so it’s excellent to see this commendation. The story, “Dress Greens,” again the primary character Irina Pavlova, this time in a piece that dealt a lot with Irina’s interior journey. Judges were favorably impressed by this take; from the judge behind Fleet Captain Toni Turner:

Irina Pavlova hit new heights in characterization and descriptions in this story of a woman surviving 219 years and finding herself dumped into a virtually new world. … The descriptions of the only uniforms she had were so vivid, I could visualize them. I imagined the physical changes of her body made her uncomfortable. 

And from the judge behind Captain Cassandra Egan Manno:

The titular focus that allows Irina to access her thoughts and feelings, her dress greens, are a clever gateway for the storytelling, and there’s an emotional depth here that I appreciated and seems entirely warranted by Irina’s situation.

Well done! Please offer the July & August entrants and winners your congratulations if you haven’t done so already!

The next Challenge, “Run Shivers Down My Spine,” is currently ongoing, so be sure to hurry over to the Writing Challenge Forum for guidelines, deadlines, and inspiration!

As always, don’t forget that you can pick up a complete collection of all this round’s short stories, in PDF format, for free. Get yours here!

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