Glenn

The Fan Trek Mutual Assistance Helpline

827 posts in this topic

Even though it's already been stated, it's definitely worth reiterating--reading is going to help you out a lot in your quest to begin writing. But reading is only going to get you so far. Writing is equally important.  Just about anyone can sit down and read a book, but only a fraction of those people can actually sit down and write a book. If everyone who had a novel collecting dust in the back of their minds could summon the mental fortitude to sit down in front of a keyboard and bring it to life, there would literally be 47 gazillion books right now. But that is simply not the case, because while everyone thinks that writing is easy, the truth of the matter is, writing is very, very hard... and writing something good is even harder. If you want to succeed as a writer, not surprisingly, you have to write. A lot. And to be perfectly blunt, your writing will suck at first. There's no getting around it, and it will certainly be discouraging to see your epic space opera unfold over the course of a mere 30 pages. But trial and error is essential to finding your voice as an author, and as time goes on you will get better.

Now, before I continue, I should like to note that I'm not just pulling all of this out of thin air. Many years ago, I was in your exact situation (except I don't sing). I was an aspiring young writer. I had tons of ideas, but nothing ever seemed to work out, my "novel" was 20 pages, and the sequel hit a dead end after 10 pages. But I kept at it. In fact, for seven years I kept at it. I wrote my ideas down, started on my next big story... it was like waves breaking on a beach. The wave crashes ashore, and then goes all the way back to the ocean. But then the next wave comes, and it crashes ashore and manages to creep a little further than the previous wave, and then that one goes all the way back to the ocean. And that's how my writing worked. And after seven long years, I finally wrote something that I felt was good enough to show to the world. My story was called "Beginnings" and it was the first of 120 episodes of my very own fan fiction, Star Trek: The Final Frontier. In retrospect, even "Beginnings" wasn't that good, but was good enough for me to build upon it, and 119 episodes later, (not to toot my own horn or anything) I was a damn good writer. 

Framing your stories like they are an episode of Star Trek is exactly what I did to start, and I encourage you to do the same. Your immediate goal is to hone your craft, work to get better. Limiting yourself to a prologue and five chapters gives you enough space to tell a decent story, but not one so complex that you get lost in the details. It's manageable, and unlike a novel, it won't take forever to see some results, so you feel a sense of progress.

Another one of your concerns was length--your stories just don't seem big enough. This is another thing that only time can fix. Using all of the writing skills available to me at the time, the first two episodes of The Final Frontier clocked in at about 20,000 words (it was a two-parter). Six years later, the final two episodes were a very, very hefty 93,000 words... that's the size of a full-fledged novel. So over the course of the entire series, I was able to grow my skills enough to go from writing short little "episodes" to writing a something akin to an actual novel. And as I said earlier, the only way I was able to accomplish this was by actually writing.

Hell, I'm on the verge of writing a novel here. I just have a few more notes, and I'll try not to be too long-winded.

It's good to know where your story is going. I find that writing "blind," just making up absolutely everything as you go along, makes the writing process that much more difficult. So when I started writing The Final Frontier, I had a very, very clear idea of how it was going to end. For a few particularly difficult story lines, I laid out the plot in meticulous detail well ahead of time. Other, less complicated stories I just gave myself a notion of where I needed the story to go for it to reach the needed goal. But I almost always had a goal in mind, and when I didn't, you could tell because the episode probably sucked.

The very last thing I want to mention is your cast of characters. You could have the best idea for a story the world has ever seen, but if you don't have a cast of memorable characters to back that story up, it's going to fail. Readers need to invest in your heroes, they need to care about them. Explosions and battles are great, but they don't mean anything if readers don't care about the people fighting those battles. So take some time and put a lot of thought into your cast.

(And if there is anyone out there interested in reading The Final Frontier, I'd actually recommend starting with the Season Five episode "Nature of the Beast." I know that it's one of the final episodes, but it's a really strong... mostly stand-alone episode that really showcases everything that I'm proud of in the series. And if you like it, then I'd suggest you go back to the beginning, where things aren't so great... but armed with the knowledge that things get better eventually).

wow! Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question! You encoraged me to keep on track. And all your comments on writing are very good tips!

By the way, I would not worry about a fanfic that starts not so great, aftet all, if we go back to tng's first season we'll see a lot of strange episodes. Its only natural to a show ( or fanfic ) to get better on the later seasons.

Edited by Garak the spy

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