Members of the Starbase 118 Fleet are in the business of creating memorable characters that are unique. Our characters are windows into worlds that may only exist within our minds and we all strive to make them more than just information on a page. Each post and each faucet of our characters is something that we use to bring our character’s to life, but sometimes it can be really difficult to avoid falling into the traps of the ‘same old stuff’ that may have come many times before us.
Unlike many other genre’s of writing, science fiction requires extensive world building. This can be problematic for some people, as the many little things that would have affected a realistic character over the years have to be created from near scratch. Sure, at Starbase 118, we have the Star Trek realm to fall back on and work with, but there are near endless possibilities when it comes to just what we can bend that world to do.
Often, when we think about making our writing better at Starbase 118, we think that it takes a lot of reading. What we don’t understand is that we can learn an awful lot from listening. These days, technology allows us the gift of sharing our experience with others without ever having to actually write a word. Instead, we can make use of a new tool; the Podcast.
With so many resources out there that all claim to give your writing a new, and sharper, edge, it might be difficult to uncover the ones that are not only good for you, but useful as well. It can be frustrating to spend your limited writing time scouring the net for tools and helpful information about writing creatively, which is the reasoning behind Joel Lee’s compilation of 6 Must-Listen Podcasts for Novelists, Screenwriters, and Storytellers. From short, fifteen minute, regularly released shows, to less-than-regularly released insights, there is something for everyone in this short list.
And while you may not have the time to listen to all of the podcasts on the list, you can take them with you unlike any time in history before. Load one up on your iPod, cell phone, or other mobile device, and learn more about writing no matter where you are or what you are doing.
No matter what role on what ship you write, finding a way to make your sims better for the audience who will eventually read them is something we all struggle with from time to time. It isn’t always simple to sit down and write something that fulfills your own requirements of a good piece of writing, which is why so many of us are always looking for tips and tricks that help us make our contributions even better. From some simple ideas, to more complex exercises that make us delve into the pits of our writing, there’s never a better time to find out just how to create that master screenplay that could serve as a Star Trek episode all on its own!
While we don’t necessarily write screenplays here at Starbase 118, we certainly write something very much like them. Sure, our stories are made to be read, not seen, but we want to invoke the images of a movie or television episode within the minds of our audience. For that reason, this week’s Writer’s Workshop brings to you ten tips from acclaimed writer/director; Billy Wilder. Be sure to check out these tips direct from the source and see if they can bring a bit more of an edge to your writing!
Do you know what your writing voice is? What does it sound like? Is it able to come out and speak, or do you have to tone it down when you write? We all have a writing voice, though some of us find it difficult to really locate or pin down. We often struggle through one sim or another while we search for the next ‘wave’ of writing inspiration. Unfortunately, actually finding your writing voice is often a task that is not described by the words quick, or easy. As in all things, if it’s worth doing, it takes time, but the journey is usually well worth it.
Sure, there will be times when you have to force yourself to actually sit down and write. This is especially true when you might feel a bit lost in the plot or after a week of illness that has kept you away. It may take some time to find that voice again, but along the way you should relish the other discoveries that you make. Confident Writing has come up with a list of at least 37 things that you might stumble upon when you start the search for your writing voice.
Have you found any of these things along your writing path?
Ever imagine, as a kid, how it might feel to be invisible? Now that you spend at least some of your time doing just that, how does it feel? It might sound funny, but as a writer, a lot of work goes into making sure that you remain invisible and behind the curtain of your story. While some of us may pour quite a bit of ourselves into our characters, there is a fine line that we walk each time we sim here at Starbase 118; a line that defines what we write as ‘In Character’ and who we are ‘Out of Character’. To maintain that line, keeping ourselves invisible in the story is imperative.
But there is more to staying behind that curtain than the simple RPG rules that we follow such as keeping OOC knowledge away from your character. We also have to think about how we show readers what’s going on in our sims, rather than just telling them the story. That’s why the New York Times’ writer Elmore Leonard put together this handy list of rules to consider when writing. Among them, some handpicked solely for the purpose of helping other writers remain invisible. Take a look and see if you can implement some of these suggestions and hide behind that curtain better than the old wizard from the city of OZ.
If you’ve attended a college or university class before, you may be familiar with the standards that some professors hold you to, especially when it comes to writing. These higher level instructors expect you to be articulate and able to convey your ideas in a written form without stumbling over your words and your grammar. And while they know mistakes will be made, some of them, such as David Patterson, a Computer Science Professor at UC Berkeley, have gone out of their way to give students and writers around the world some simple ideas on how to make writing better.
Devoid of frilly additions to the page, or ads that take away from the basic premise and simple ideas of the text, this professor has pretty much hit the nail on the head. He simply takes the time to put forth some ‘from the teacher’ tips that can be used in almost any kind of writing. With simple to use advice, you’re sure to walk away from this page with some new technique or hint that can help you make your sims better, which, in the end, is a goal we all share. Be sure to take a minute to check out the page and the simple writing advice Mister Patterson offers today!
Simming, for the most part, is nothing more than a vast collection of short stories, and as such, the act of building your sims should be approached in a very particular manner. From the beginnings of the piece of the plot you are trying to address, to the resolutions that you will find near the end of your sim (if there are any), building something that could be considered more than just another everyday sim definitely takes some work. But even if you have the time to put into it, if you don’t know the ins and outs of writing shorter stories versus longer one, or creative writing versus writing a paper for school, then the task becomes even more complex.
We often find that time is always at a premium. Whether it’s the Starbase 118 OOC stuff we want to do, or just an extra sim we want to write, there are always moments when you simply run out of time. Other things begin to take precedence, and before we know it, the time is gone and we have no sims to show for it. Finding time to set aside for your writing pursuits, be it simming or writing a book, takes a certain amount of self determination and a schedule that you will stick to. And while finding the time to write isn’t always something that you’ll be able to do, there are some very easy things you can do to make it a much easier thing to do.
Perhaps one of the more difficult aspects of writing within Starbase 118 that we face with each sim that we write is the need for proper grammar. The English language is not easy to master by any means and often times we see the very same mistakes being made over and over again. From simple misspellings for words that sound the same but have different meanings (homophones), to the gross misuse of the all powerful comma, grammar rules are not always the clearest and they aren’t always the easiest thing to remember. Is it there or their? Or perhaps it is they’re? Is it a moot point? Maybe it’s just on a whole other plain…or plane. Either way, knowing the right grammar to use in your sims is important, regardless of who or how you write.
There are many different ways that we add complexity and uniqueness to our Starbase 118 sims. By incorporating what we know with what we know might be one day, we can create a woven storyline that is not only plausible in some instances, but one that draws on the world that we live in now. Whether you choose to include a historical fact or wordplay, adding in these extras to your sims can really take your writing to a whole new level. The problem is, often the facts that we know are not always whole and what we think we heard, we might not have. Perhaps that is why Writer’s Dream Tools has compiled a set of tools to help writers in many different ways.