mijan: (To Boldly Go...)
[personal profile] mijan
So... I'm back at it.  Writing, that is.  Yep, up to my eyeballs in yet another novel-length Academy fic.  As of right now, I'm planning on this being the last in the big trilogy, but we'll see.

As I'm getting the ball rolling, I've got to get the groundwork set up.  I know some people go piecemeal and throw stuff around as they go, but for me, I like to get things solidly cemented (fermented?) in my brain before I really kick off the wagon train.  It makes sure my plot is rock-solid so that I don't find myself scrambling to fix a dozen things after I've written 100K or more of story, and hoping I found all the glitches before I post.  It also lets me make the plot more detailed and rich.  If you know everything solidly in your mind, you can paint a clearer picture.  Example - In my mind, I KNOW the layout of Starfleet Academy.  I know where everything is, how the buildings are arranged, what the architecture looks like, and the general feel of the campus.  I've also been to San Francisco and took a bit of time to put my mental image of Starfleet Academy into my real-life experience of being there, so I know what the wind feels like, the air smells like, and the surroundings look like.  Therefore, when I write it, it just feels natural.

Okay, I'm getting off-track.  Here's why I'm posting:

1. Kirk said to Pike, as be boarded the shuttle, "I'll do it in three."  We of the fandom seem to assume that because he SAID he would, that he actually did.  Is it fair for a fanfic author to assume that Kirk will work his ass off, take extra courses, and manage to graduate in three years?  Is that canon, GOOD fanon, accepted fanon, or bad fanon?

2. Original characters!  Love 'em or hate 'em... in Star Trek, we've gotta have 'em.  Unless you want to write nothing but short vignettes about what happens on the bridge of the Enterprise, or locked away in Kirk's quarters, there needs to be a good cast of OC's.  And I do try.  I really do.  My view of the Star Trek universe demands a wholly diverse cast of characters... all races and cultures, genders and appearances.  In the case of Star Trek, we even get different species.  Without that, it doesn't look like Star Trek to me.  In my last Academy fic, we had an Andorian (who makes a cameo in the upcoming one, btw).  We've got a Betazoid with a semi-major role in the one I'm working on now.  Nothing more fun than having a guy like Leonard McCoy working in close quarters with a telepath.  *grins*

Anyway, I've been looking over my cast of OC's from the entire course of the Academy series... from minor characters to more prominent OC's... and I'm trying to figure out who should come next.  Obviously, the details (personalities, quirks, "good guy/bad guy," abilities, and so on) are vital when it comes to plot, but what about the things that paint the broader picture of the Federation?  What alien species?  What Terran ethnicities?  If you have been following my writing, who hasn't shown up enough?  The Federation is an interplanetary organization.  At the point in history 200 years in the future, EARTH is represented within the Federation... not just a tiny fraction of our planet. 

Then, of course, there's also the question of HOW we represent the cultures of people within Starfleet.  As an ex-military officer, I can say that when we're doing our jobs, the details of our cultural differences often get pushed aside, and then become more obvious off-duty.  In the future, is the human race more homogeneous?  Does the event of "World War III" (which we hope will never happen) cause changes in global cultural exchange?  Increased globalization?  The use of "Federation Standard" as a common language?  (NOTE: We *hear* Standard as English when we see Star Trek, but I actually believe that Standard is NOT English.  Star Trek just happened to be filmed in English.)  Where's the line between GOOD treatment of the concept of culture in OC's, and becoming heavy-handed and distracting? 

Thus far, to be completely honest, I've mostly tried to model my portrayal of ethnicity, Terran culture, and non-human species, on what I saw in ST:TNG, while still trying to show this as the TOS era.  I want to show this vision without being heavy-handed.  How am I doing?  Have I screwed up in my endeavor to be true to this vision of the future?  Or am I hitting fairly close to the mark?

Who's missing?  I've already pinned down a few minor characters, and have already written them in.  I need three cadets who will be working on a team with Kirk (not the flight team), a couple of nurses and one junior doctor who will be working with Bones (I've already got the CMO and one nurse), and a few senior officers.

If you haven't read my Academy series, feel free to chime in with thoughts and suggestions about who we need to see represented (and how they should be respectfully represented) in Star Trek fanfiction.  If you HAVE read my Academy series, don't hesitate to let me know who you feel is missing from the picture.  I'm only human (regretfully), and am still trying to wrap my 21st-century brain around 23rd-century social science and culture while not being insulting or insensitive to our current problems.

Enough rambling from me.  You get what I'm trying to ask.  Go for it.

Date: 2011-04-13 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] syredronning.livejournal.com
I don't have any ideas right now, so I just want to emphasize that I love well-done OCs and yours were fabulous so far. I trust you to come up with good ones :)

P.S. Re the nurses, there definitely aren't enough MALE nurses around :)

Date: 2011-04-13 08:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mijan.livejournal.com
Quick reply because I only have 30 seconds... the nurse who cut off Jim's clothes when he got his ass dragged back into the ER after his little escape was a male nurse. So was one of the nurses on the trauma team immediately after the shuttle crash. I just didn't make a major point of it because it wasn't that important. I should have a male nurse in this one, methinks. :D

Date: 2011-04-13 09:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thistlerose.livejournal.com
Re. more male nurses: hear, hear!

I think you've done a good job of showing diversity through your OCs. I think I may even remarked on it when I first started reading "Crossfire."

It can be hard, sometimes, highlighting some of the things that make us different without coming across as heavy-handed. Especially when we don't have visual cues. I mean, I knew that Nurse Mathews from "A Show of Strength" is Indian, but how would anyone else know, unless I described her? And why would I do that if her background is irrelevant to the plot?

That said, I'd love to see characters with disabilities and/or alien characters whose physiology requires special accommodations/considerations. Just in general, I mean.

Date: 2011-04-13 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I actually believe that Standard is NOT English.

I think that too. I think it's something like Esperanto, a new language that people got together and created for the purpose of having one language that everyone on the planet would learn, if not speak it as a first language. It's not clear how many languages are still in use on Earth.

Date: 2011-04-13 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gmonkey42.livejournal.com
whoops, that was me, I forgot I wasn't logged in.

Date: 2011-04-13 11:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alphabet26.livejournal.com
Is it fair for a fanfic author to assume that Kirk will work his ass off, take extra courses, and manage to graduate in three years?

I would almost say that's canon. They had that "Three years later" tag and as unrealistic as it is that they promoted Kirk from cadet to captain at all, I have to imagine he was at least a "senior" (whatever they would call the last year at the Academy) when the Nero thing happened. I mean. There's ridiculous and there's ridiculous. ;)

Maybe he also had some credits from, like, AP classes (whatever the future equivalent that is) or he took some classes at a community college and the credits would transfer. He had to have taken those tests that Pike looked up at some point.

I don't know, just some thoughts.

Date: 2011-04-13 11:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kei-rin.livejournal.com
Maybe I"m making this up because it's been a while since I watched TNG (I know shock *gasp*), but I think I remember that Picard's family in France spoke French as well as Standard. As I said I don't really remember if that's true or something I just made up in my own personal canon. I think it was in a episode where Picard went earthside to visit his brother who's really traditional and they hashed out past family woes, drank wine, and Picard met his nephew who wanted to go into space when he grew up but his Dad (Picard's brother)is all "This is all your fault Jean-Luc and now who's going to take over the winery."

I always figured that Standard had to be different than what we are speaking now as English, if for no other reason then languages naturally change over time. Also silly thing but if Standard was English, why would they bother calling Standard? I figure they'd just call it English.

I kinda think it would be like how the language situation is in India there is language specific to a particular region but at the same everyone speaks or at least understands Hindi. So that way there is a common language but that doesn't take away from the regional language.

As for Kirk's "I'll do it in three years." I actually think that it's at least good fanon, if it not actually canon, to assume that he at least worked towards that goal (if he kept that goal or not is something that the author may want to play with). Because the way I see it is that Kirk made that comment to himself as well as Pike saying "I'm better than you think I am." and wanting to prove it. It sounds like a throw away comment but then I don't think Kirk actually makes throw away challenges. I think it actually more of a challenge to himself in a way and that's why I think he would have at least tried to do in three years. I admit all of this is based of how I see Kirk from TOS mixed with movie, so it's kinda more a fanon thing of how I generally perceive his character than anything else.

Date: 2011-04-14 06:04 am (UTC)
ext_387759: Screengrab from "Turnabout Intruder", Spock prepared to meld with Janice who is really Kirk (Default)
From: [identity profile] janice-lester.livejournal.com
Snipping my rant on treatment of disability in Star Trek to say: OCs who have to deal with non-curable medical conditions, or conditions they choose not to have cured (they may be an important part of self-identity or community, or just not important enough to be worth going through pain for), or who are disabled in some respects merely by Starfleet's human-centric design (eg starship gravity/light/sleep schedule/toilets/closet doorknobs/beds/jeffries tube ladders/equipment noise outside the range of human hearing/floor surfaces/displays/turbolifts/widgets prove less than ideally compatible with set up of one's non-human body), or whose species are anatomically incapable of doing things which are requirements of human cadets (or does the Federation exclude entire species from serving in its Starfleet for features of their biology they cannot help?) would be awesome.

As an example that doesn't require too much examination of Star Trek's history of disability fail, I've been wondering how a person's biological need to hibernate would be handled? Off the top of my head, Denobulans need to hibernate for relatively short periods (but can be woken in an emergency), and Picard once mentioned getting a treaty dispute mediated by the Griselids, where were in hibernation so the dispute resolution would have to wait six months. :-) Is the academy prepared to tolerate Cadet Jimbo building a cocoon in the corner of his dorm room he plans to hibernate in over the New Year's break? What if he doesn't wake up in time for some important exam or test--will his mainly human, mainly non-hibernating superiors be reasonably accommodating? What if he'll need to spend more days hibernating each year than the average Starfleet officer is accorded in time off?

(Up to 20% of the world's current population are disabled. Pretty large minority. I'm still looking for any sign we'd be welcome in Starfleet if able to do the job.)

Date: 2011-04-14 08:36 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] flamewarrior

Date: 2011-04-14 08:38 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] flamewarrior
Would you point me to your Academy fics so I can read them / remind myself of them (I can't remember if I've read them or not! And this is where I realise I have NO Star Trek icons. D-:)


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