Oh, sure. Seems like a no-brainer, now.
But, what if I told you the idea of writing Star Trek stories was something I had to work my way into, oh-so slooooooooooooooooowly?
Don’t get me wrong: the idea of making up adventures for Captain Kirk and his merry band of enterprising voyagers (see what I did there?) goes all the way back to my awkward, scrawny, geeky 1970s childhood. If my friends and I weren’t pretending to be the Enterprise crew at our local playground (or the crew from Moonbase Alpha. That was actually a thing, for a short while), then chances were good I was playing with Star Trek action figures. Many a day during my childhood was spent spinning my very own little Star Trek yarns with little 8″ inch versions of Kirk and company, along with that hilariously wacky Enterprise bridge set from Mego. You know the one:
Oh, and when I say “Many a day during my childhood,” I also mean “Yesterday.”
As for actually writing any kind of Star Trek story, I recall dabbling here and there with the notion as a teenager. This was at a point when the original cast was on the silver screen, a few years before the premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Nothing serious ever came from those haphazard scribbling sessions….certainly nothing I kept for posterity.
Skip ahead to the fall of 1987: TNG has only recently premiered, and I’m checking out a Star Trek convention in Anaheim (I was stationed at Camp Pendleton during this period). How early were we into the new show’s run? We got to see the first season episode “The Last Outpost” a week ahead of its broadcast. Anyway, I’m wandering the dealers room when I spy a copy of this:
Now, I wasn’t completely unfamiliar to the idea of a “writers guide” for Star Trek. I remembered reading something about it/them, perhaps in my dog-eared copy of Stephen Whitfield’s The Making of Star Trek, or David Gerrold’s The Trouble With Tribbles or maybe even an issue of Starlog. I certainly never expected to actually see one, but BOOM! Atop a dealer’s table sat just this very thing, albeit for the still new car-smelling Star Trek: The Next Generation. So, sure, I ponied up the $10 or whatever it was (that’s a pic of my copy, up there).
And it’s not as though I suddenly had delusions of grandeur and writing for the new show. I mean, TV was written by writers, after all. At best, I was an annoyingly well-informed nerd when it came to Star Trek trivia, which included reading the novels that were by now a regular component of Pocket Books’ publication schedule. On the other hand, the idea of writing some kind of Star Trek story had taken root, even if it’d be a while before I actually tried doing anything about it.
Skip ahead several more years, to the far off wonders that awaited us in the 21st century! I’m now writing Star Trek fiction on a semi-regular basis for that same Pocket Books, and there have been three more Trek TV series since TNG came and went. That original TNG series writers/directors guide has gotten some company:
Even now – several more years, a handful of movies, and one additional TV series later – I still don’t have any real aspirations of writing Star Trek for the screen. But, as a writer of the novels and a fan of Star Trek in general, it’s neat to see how the writers for the different series approached their task. Of particular interest to me when I picked it up was the writers guide for the original series, as somewhere along my “fan journey” I’d become very enamored with reading about the actual production of the show, and so I’m always grabbing anything and everything I can get my hands on with respect to this topic.
Why am I babbling about this stuff today? It’s really Michael Okuda’s fault. Over on his Facebook page, he posted a link to something TrekCore.com posted last year, making me remember these docs which have been in my files for years:
Upon seeing that, I knew I wasn’t going to be happy until I dug out all of my writers guides….if for no other reason than to make sure I still had the damned things.
Worry not, true believers. You know my reference library runs wide and deep.
Of course, these guides were created with a very specific purpose: assisting both staff and hopeful freelance episode writers to make sure their stories remained consistent with the aesthetic and sensibilities created for each of the series. For outsiders, they offer a peek behind the curtain, though I’ve found the original series references to be particularly helpful when it comes to putting myself in the “mood” to write a new story for Captain Kirk and his crew.
And sure, we’ve even created the odd “writers bible” for some of the novel lines, as well. Keith DeCandido and David Mack deserve special shout-outs, as they drafted guides for writers of, respectively, the Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers series and Star Trek Vanguard. Though I never had need to print out my copy of the SCE bible (it, or the “23rd century version” I did up for me and Kevin to use), I did so for Vanguard, and indeed I still have my copy along with the tech specs and such, all stored in a 3-ring binder:
What can I say? Trek dork, remember?
So, thanks very much to TrekCore and Mike Okuda for spurring this little field trip down Memory Lane.