Many writers find themselves worrying about the sense of realism in their sims. It is easy to watch a show or movie and see something that does not fit. But not everyone has all of the knowledge it takes to identify everything wrong in a movie. It can be the same within a sim. There comes a certain point when the writer may have knowledge of a situation and disagree with the probability of it happening. We have to remember that we write in a fictional world. Many things about the Star Trek universe are not possible. Did you ever wonder why you can hear the Enterprise zipping past you in a scene? We all know that sound cannot travel in space, so where is that “whooshing” sound coming from?
There comes a point, for the sake of the story and writers working on it, that one must suspend disbelief. This is not a new term or anything that any good sci-fi writer ignores. To suspend disbelief one must have a willingness to overlook their critical faculties and allow their self to believe the unbelievable for the sake of the story. There are times that something can be written that you know is not possible, but it made for a great situation or plot arch.
At the same time, if you take a look at the Using Research to Improve Your Sims tutorial, you will already know that it is possible to do some research to find the answer to a situation that we do have knowledge about. The greatest example comes from Medical Officers. Many of them find themselves looking up illnesses and treatments online, and then adapting what they know about the Star Trek universe to combine the two. Many times a character may make it known that they have a scar. We all know what the dermal regenerator can do. It can heal small cuts and burns. It can also be used to revert surgically modified skin and remove scars.
This is a great example that we need to suspend disbelief for that character. Perhaps there is a reason that they never had the scar removed? It could be a character development thing that we have no idea about. Perhaps some sort of archaic surgery had to take place on the battlefield and a dermal regenerator was not available. It is easy to take what we know and find a reason for some things to work. But it is possible to add more depth to a sim or story by doing just a little bit of research. Different species act in different ways. If something is out of the norm, there needs to be a good explanation for it. If a Klingon appears to be docile, why? It is easy to overlook some of the technical aspects of the universe, but a better sense of realism can be found with a bit of leg work.
At the same time, there are some things that you just cannot get over. It brings us back to the sound traveling through space. Is it absolutely cool to hear the Enterprise zip passed you? Of course it is! It is an effect that is used to heighten the enjoyment of the show or movie. The same can happen in a sim. If an idea for something pops in your mind, do not be afraid to do a little research and see what would really happen. If you need to alter things slightly for dramatic effect, do so.
With so many missions and sims flying through the fleet, it is easy to pick them apart and find the things that do not make sense in our minds. We have to remember that we, as writers, come from different backgrounds and we cannot expect everyone to possess the knowledge we do of a particular area of science. Instead, seek to be more understanding. If that doesn’t work always suspend disbelief. In the end, you will find that you will be able to enjoy the story a lot more in the process.
(Written by Fleet Captain Andrus Jaxx)