Author Topic: Writing Tips  (Read 16822 times)

Offline bluesman

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #25 on: September 28, 2009, 10:51:06 PM »
I'd also suggest letting other people read your work, even if you write for fun. You will get good feedback and other people will catch things that you don't. Ask people waht they think and don't be afraid of some negative feedback. Every creative endeavor is gonna get a little of this. Remember even professional writers get ideas rejected and are edited.

I agree with having characters that are well established. That doesn't mean they cant grow or change through the story or series. In addition to outlines, I also write 1-2 page bios on the major an minor characters. If a new character is introsduced, I at least write up a little background. Thins to include might be where they grew up, wne tto college, what type of music they like, interests, personality traits and so on.

Offline bluesman

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #26 on: September 29, 2009, 10:14:38 PM »
I'd agree with the maiden voyage stuff, however there are ways to do a good maiden voyage story.

I'd say focus on a couple characters rather than every one of the major charcters on the bridge (or wherever your story takes place).



I have written a trek story that is kinda maiden voyage, but it is about the captains new command, not a maiden voyage of new class of ship. So the ship is extablsihed, the crew is established, then here comes the new guy. It is also not the first story in the series.

Part of the reason I like writing trek stories is that GR once said there are alot of stories to be told, and you can explore alot of themse...drama, comedy, you can do like the show did and talk about topics in a sci fi setting.

When I get some of the material edited I will post it here or give y'all a link.


Offline masterarminas

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #27 on: March 07, 2012, 03:05:42 PM »
In my view, stories need to be driven by the characters.  I'm sure some folks are shaking their heads, and asking what does that mean?  It is simple:  whether Star Trek, or BattleTech, or Star Wars, you are telling a story about one or more characters that you have either created whole-cloth or have borrowed from an established universe.  Baffling them with bull-droppings works well in politics and sometimes in debate (and other real-life scenarios), but not so much in writing.  Yes, ships and technology are an important part of the sci-fi genre.  But not to the exclusion of developing your characters so that are not two-dimensional.

In a good Trek story, the ship is a character, but she is always a supporting character that needs to be brought to life through the major protagonists and the rest of the cast.  A lot of people lose sight of making their characters into real, living breathing individuals that the reader can identify with, and instead focus so much on the techno-babble as the means to tell the story.

There is an old saying in writing:  don't tell, show.  Sometimes you have to tell a little bit, but by and large show your scene through the eyes and actions and words of one of your characters.  Not every paragraph, but every once and a while.  You don't want to lose your reader's interest by explaining how great this new left-handed hydrospanner is compared to the old one--they are both hydrospanners!  Don't spend two pages telling how more efficient the new model is.

In a similar fashion, a lot of people have a difficult time writing battle sequences.  They picture it on the big screen (heck, we all do) and they want to write out every sweeping pass and every detail, so that the reader knows exactly how they picture it.  Don't.  Rely on the reader's own imagination to flesh out the details for themselves; but don't go to the other extreme either.  You want to picture the reader as a fish and you as the fisherman.  Your words are the bait; if he is interested, then he takes a bite, and another, and then you hook him with a sharp jerk!  But that isn't the end; you have keep reeling him in, making him part of the story so that he is cheering on the inside for your heroes to win the day; so that he feels every setback that they suffer.

The key to writing a good battle scene is to keep it short, keep the tension high, and use your characters to deliver the story, not just exposistion.

For example compare this:

Quote
Republic and the Klingon ship moved quickly towards each other, spitting green disruptor bolts, golden phaser beams, and crimson glowing torpedoes.  They danced around each other, exchanging fire, with hits flaring on the shields.  They closed, and then the Federation ship reached out with its tractor beams and snagged the smaller Val'qis to one side, almost wrenching off one of her nacelles.  To which the Klingons responded by going into cloak.

to this:

Quote
“Drop to impulse speed, and bring her about, Miss Montoya; I want her bow-on to the Val’qis! Mister Malik, reduce core to nominal, all shields to full power!”

Republic slowed and she spun around, completing her turn just as the Klingon battlecruiser dropped out of warp.

“She’s powering disruptors and torpedoes!” Grace barked out. Bolts of dark luminous green erupted from the prow of the Klingon cruiser, followed by the red glow of a high-powered torpedo. Without waiting for Matt’s instruction, Pavel fired a full spread of four torpedoes of his own, and three golden streams of energy shot out from the phaser array strips.

Republic shook—hard—as the full power disruptor cannons struck her forward shields, and then she trembled again as the photon torpedo slammed home behind them.

“Forward shields at 64%, Captain Dahlgren, damage reports on Decks 8 to 11,” Chan reported calmly. “Her shields are holding,” he added as two of the torpedoes and all three of the older and less powerful phasers Republic fired flared against the battlecruiser’s shields.

“Ahead full impulse, Miss Montoya; put us right up against her, if you can.”

The two ships moved directly towards each, both spitting death from their weapon systems and shuddering under the impact of unimaginable amounts of energy.

“Forward shields at 37%, Captain—her shields are buckling!” Chan shouted as a feedback loop blew out the secondary Science station, injuring the rating manning the console. Matt didn’t look away from his displays as Amanda Tsien called for a medic to come to the bridge, and then his head suddenly snapped up.

“Lock the forward tractor on her port nacelle, Miss Biddle! Port engines full astern, bring her around Isabella, use the tractor as a fulcrum!”

The entire ship shuddered and groaned, and then she whipped around as the Val’qis tore past, the mass of Republic wrenching her engine nacelle off-center and sending her spinning. More sparks flew, and the lights dimmed as the ship’s power drain soared.  The Star Fleet ship spun around as well, with  her nose centered on the klingon vessel.  More flashes of phasers splashed against the aft shields of the Val'qis, followed by the emergence of scarlet torpedo trace from her stern tube—a torpedo that missed Republic cleanly.

"Forward tractor off-line—severe damage in tractor control!" Grace sang out.

And then the Val’qis went into cloak, fading from sight.

Both clips give the same information, but in an entirely different manner.  Which would you rather read?  The second version uses the characters to show the fight, not just telling how it occurs.  It is (usually) hard for a reader to cheer on a faceless 'ship'; but they can be hooked into supporting your characters!  

To make a long post short, it's all about the characters; not the tech, not the cool gadgets, not the ships, not the fights.  The story, if it is a good story needs to be about the characters.  In my own humble opinion.

And don't be afraid to go back and change things!  Editting is part and parcel of writing, friends.  Read over what you have written; not once, not twice, but three times.  Sit back and read it.  Change a few words here and there to make it work better.  And then post it.  Don't be afraid of accepting advice, and listen to the feedback you get from the readers.  They will quickly tell you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.

Master Arminas
« Last Edit: March 07, 2012, 03:14:06 PM by masterarminas »

Offline masterarminas

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Re: Writing Tips
« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2012, 03:26:20 PM »
I was recently reading a fanfic which reminded me of one of my greatest pet peeves about original crew series.  I freakin hate maiden voyage stories.  They spend helf the time reading like an A&E Biography special as the Captain meets each member of the crew and the author goes into a long personal history of each member of the command crew.  The histories are usually boring and add nothing to the short crisis the crew will meet after the exsessive introductions are done.

Now I have been guilty of opening a story/series like this as well.  But I have found some ways to aviod it.  First, the story does not need to start with the ship leaving space dock.  If you start it while its already underway you can show your characters doing their job, and display their personalities through their interaction with the other characters.  Also, there is no need to forcefeed readers each characters personal history.  If the background information is vital to the plot, by all means put it in the story.  But reveal it in an interesting way, like through a conversation with other characters.  Doing these things will allow you to get along with the actual story, and hook readers from the beginning.

In many respects, I agree with you here.  But I think it can be done well, if it is done smartly.  We don't need the full bios on the entire bridge crew; let the reader learn about them as the story goes along.  Use those small hooks as the story progresses to give the secondary supporting characters more depth; but you are most definately correct in advising to avoid the wall of text bios like the plague. 

Master Arminas