Tag Archives: inspiration

Review – Inspiration

Review – Inspiration

Inspiration is an exceptionally personal thing.
Inspiration

Background

First of all, Inspiration was a response to a prompt of the same name. As a result, I decided to go with an author insertion type of theme. Hence the idea was to write a story about the more or less near future. And the future would begin to intersect with canon, which says we are supposed to be in the midst of World War III, right about now.

Er, not so much.

Therefore, it seems as if some of the premise falls flat. Furthermore, the concept now, as I review it from a remove of a few years, feels trite and, frankly, more than a little bit weird. And in some ways, the story twists the concept and the plot too much. In short, it feels as if I was trying way too hard with it.

Ah, well. They can’t all be gems now, can they?

Plot

There is not too much of a plot, although it does dovetail with the In Between Days and Multiverse II story lines.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

While I feel the concept was an acceptable one, the story suffers from too much author insertion and not enough plot line. Hence I believe it could have been improved by using an original character in the place of myself. And it may have even become a great time to resurrect Leland Loomis. However, that would have veered the story off and into a rather different direction. Yet that might even have saved it. Hard to say now. I have no plans to revisit the story or the concept at this particular time.

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Writing Process Blog Hop

Writing Process Blog Hop

This is a somewhat different post, as I am (for the first time! Sound the trumpets!) participating in a Blog Hop. I’ve been tagged by Alex Karola, I’ll answer a few questions, and then I will tag three other folks to continue the chain. Those three folks, who I will mention again at the end are Jessica Bloczynski, Katrin Hollister, and MirielOfGisborne.

Without further ado, here are the questions.

1. What am I working on?

Egad, it feels like, what am I not working on? I have a WIP which is wholly original, that I am going to submit to my publisher. If all goes well, it’ll be a trilogy. Well, it’ll be a trilogy whether it’s accepted for publication or not. But I’ll be the first to admit that it could use some tightening.

Writing Process Blog Hop

I’ve got the Barnstorming series. It has stalled recently, in favor of schoolwork, wholly original work, and various short prompted stories. I have a wholly original work in progress for Wattpad that hasn’t been posted yet but I’d like some more chapters before I start. I have The Social Media Guide for Wattpad. The draft is technically done, but I’m always finding more to say.

Hence the answer is – ta da! – lots of stuff.

2. How is my work different from others of its genre?

Writing Process Blog Hop

I tend to add a philosophical bent to a lot of my work. Without getting into the details of what I want to present to my publisher, one of the underlying themes is: what does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be sentient/intelligent? I think when we start to answer those questions, we will begin to understand our own selves better. I like to explore that inner essence (I’m mainly a science fiction author), and that generally isn’t explored while stars and planets are being explored. I try to change that.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Part of it is for my own purposes; I try to write what appeals to me as a reader.

Writing Process Blog Hop

Part of it is also for the purpose of creating art. I like to be creative.  A part of it is also to slip some philosophy in there. I think the study of thought and thinking is going by the boards. I see people spouting stuff all the time and it has no basis and no foundation. It’s not philosophy; it’s just a lot of posturing. The real thing is becoming rare.  This is not to say that I’m busily slipping philosophy into my works, much like someone might grind up carrots and shovel them into burgers in order to stealthily get people to eat healthier. Rather, it’s a part of the dish/story. Read it for the science fiction, read it for the philosophy, read it for both. I like to think readers will get something out of it, regardless of their preferences or foci.

4. How does my writing process work?

I am naturally overly organized and I wouldn’t be shocked if I were OCD as well. I keep an enormously long timeline (which is published on the site, in pieces) and that is an incredible help. I am able to do things like look at it to determine who is older than whom, who could meet, etc. I also keep a long list of every character I have ever made. These characters are paired with various actors/actresses. For canon, of course, it’s whoever really played them. For originals, I make judgments, and those eventually start to inform my work. E. g. if a character is short, that decides a few things but generally not major plot points.

Writing Process Blog Hop

I keep an idea bank, too, and sometimes it’s painfully scant. E. g. the Daranaean Emergence series was started with a two-word phrase: smart kangaroos. When I have an interesting dream, an idea for a name, a title, a series, a story, all of those are typed into the bank. While I do answer prompts, the bank helps when I am really stuck.

For longer works, I tend to flesh out the ideas, but I don’t go with a formal story line. I tend to have ideas of where I want to go, though, or sometimes scenes play out in my head. Funny thing is, sometimes a scene that I have been thinking of for a long time can end up far shorter than I had thought. In Reflections Down a Corridor, I had a vision of Jay swimming, swimming, swimming. That whole scene is maybe a few pages long, yet I thought about it for months. Was I sick of it? I can’t honestly say.

Sometimes scenes are written in order. Sometimes, they aren’t, although usually that’s because they are standalone short stories. But some of that can be laid at the feet of the timeline. I have ideas of where I’m going with this or that, and I need to go through X to get to Y so I’ll sometimes write Y and then realize, oops, I’d better prefigure that with X.

Blame Fortune and Reversal, too, as both of those stories, along with The Cure is Worse than the Disease and Release, have a lot of little gold nuggets in them that can be mined for even more stories. I’m finding  that Intolerance has become a gold mine, as well.

Upshot

And there’s my stop on the blog hop.

Writing Process Blog Hop

Please tune into the following bloggers as they continue the process:

I hope you like the plot bunny, at left, who is resting from hopping.

Thank you for reading!

Lessons from Fan Fiction

Personal Background

I have been writing (with considerable time off), in some form or another, for the past 4 1/2 decades, no exaggeration. My initial writings were crudely drawn images in old calendar books that would have otherwise been discarded. Inevitably, they were all about more or less the same thing – anthropomorphized dogs going on adventures.

I used to own (many of them are still in my parents’ house) little plastic farm animal toys.

English: Two plastic animals (a sheep and a st...
English: Two plastic animals (a sheep and a st…

Many of these came from my father’s business trips to Munich, and they were fairly well detailed. When not drawing picture books, I would play act stories for these toys. Usually, it was some sort of journey.

The toys still exist, but the old calendar books are long gone, in some landfill somewhere (they were discarded before recycling was really mainstream).

As a teenaged girl, I had diaries, but all of those are also gone to a landfill. I did not get back to writing anything resembling fiction until my senior year in High School, when I had an AP English teacher who encouraged such things. I took Creative Writing in college, and a Law School boyfriend also encouraged me to write. Then I set it all aside until maybe 2000 when I did some short works and then started writing fan fiction in 2004.

After a few more short works, I set it aside until 2010. Ever since starting up again (with Reversal), I have written something pretty much every day, whether it’s Star Trek: fan fiction, wholly original works, blogging and/or fiction outlining.

Lessons Learned (in no particular order)

Write to keep writing

While I suffer from writer’s block, just like every other writer, I suffer from it less than I probably should, because I make an effort to write nearly every single day. This keeps it all going.

Take and Keep Notes

I have a large timeline for fan fiction, spanning a few millennia. I have other timelines for wholly original fictional universes. These are kept with MS Excel. Timelines are incredibly useful, as you immediately know things like ages, and if character lifetimes overlap.

Fiction Stacks
Fiction Stacks

I keep wikis (more like informal detailed outlines, as I am the sole contributor) for all major series, and separate ones for wholly original fiction. These are for world-building, and they contain everything from character heights to birthdays to naming conventions for various items. It’s all decided once and the references are at my fingertips.

I also keep a list of plot ideas, which also contains possible titles, species ideas, possible character names, etc. (Eriecho was originally going to be Klingon). This ‘parks’ new ideas so that I can concentrate better on the story I am trying to finish.

Don’t Throw Anything Away

Character names from 1986 have shown up in fiction written in 2011, no lie. A quarter-century later, and in a different universe, the names still work.

Your Work Should be Shared

I belong to several writers’ groups online, both for fan fiction and for wholly original work.

Fan fiction in the making
Fan fiction in the making

There are a lot of people who are terrified of sharing their work with others. These are not people holding back because it’s work they want to try to have published. They just plain aren’t ready to share anything.

And that’s unfortunate, as their work can stagnate with no feedback. Fiction isn’t meant to be hidden away, locked in a drawer somewhere.

 

Constructive Criticism is Gold

English: Crystaline Gold
English: Crystaline Gold (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyone providing constructive criticism of any sort is fantastic. Being told that I need to define a character better, or provide more details, or that a scenario is not credible – any and all of these criticisms makes me a better writer. Learning to take constructive criticism graciously was an enormous lesson I have learned.

 

Destructive Criticism is Dirt

While not everyone will love what I have written, I’ve learned to separate critiques into constructive and destructive, and can tell the difference.

Vermont dirt, up close.
Vermont dirt, up close.

There are those who go into reading a fan fiction who are biased against a particular series, or character or character pairing, etc. They might dislike a certain plot point (e. g. not everyone likes time travel), or they just might dislike all fan fiction.

Most of what these folks say is not worth reading, or repeating. Fortunately, I haven’t run into too many of these folks in my travels.

As for those who engage in personal attacks, they should be blocked without a second thought. No one needs to be trashed in order to be effectively critiqued. Ever.

Do Your Research

In one of my first-ever fan fictions (There’s Something About Hoshi), I misspelled MACO as MAKO, and was corrected by a reader. At the time, I was overly sensitive and felt it was petty. I have since come to realize that of course this person was correct, and they were only trying to help me get better.

Pay it Forward by Reading and Reviewing Others’ Work

Sitting back and expecting everyone else to do the heavy lifting of reading and reviewing is pretty selfish. Writers, of course, should take care not to steal from each other, or plagiarize. But the building, nurturing, and sustaining of writer communities means that you, the writer, need to also become the reader, and the critic. Always be a constructive critic.

Practice and Edit

Not writing does not make you a better writer. Only writing, and reading, can make you a better writer. So do both.

Don’t Crowdsource Your Ideas

I see this a lot, where potential writers, terrified that they have a bad idea, ask their peers for a judgment about whether something is a ‘good’ idea.

This is bass-ackwards. Instead, writers should be writing. Their ideas are, likely, perfectly fine. Why do I say this? Because most ideas are fine; it’s their execution that demonstrates quality, or the lack thereof. Consider the following story idea.

Kafka
Kafka

A suddenly disabled man is late for work one morning. Ignoring his new infirmity, he tries to go to work, as he is the sole supporter of his mostly ungrateful family. When they become, by necessity, more independent, they abuse and neglect him and, unappreciated, he eventually dies. They go on without him.

Don’t know that plot? It’s Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, easily one of the top 100 (if not 50) works of fiction ever written. Ever!

But that plot summary isn’t too promising, eh? It’s in the execution where Gregor Samsa comes to life.

Your ideas are fine, except for the idea that you need others’ approval before you can start writing. Nonsense! Write anyway.

You’re Better Than You Think

Unless you are out and out plagiarizing someone else’s work, there is probably someone out there who will like your writing. That leads to my next point.

Find Your Ideal Audience

Sites which cater to, say, only Star Trek: Enterprise will not appreciate Star Trek: Voyager fan fiction as well as sites that focus on it. That may seem obvious, but it’s a point that people sometimes seem to miss. If your work isn’t being read, try other sites. You might do better elsewhere.

Fix Your Technical Problems Before Posting

Always look over spelling, punctuation, capitalization, word choice (e. g. make sure you are using the right words, and they mean what you think they do), and grammar. A few stray errors are fine, but try to fix most of it before posting. This is a courtesy to your readers.

Not Everyone Wants to read your entire Saga

Readers’ time is as precious a your own.

Busy
Busy

Their not wanting to read your entire 10 million word saga is less a reflection on your abilities (or their love of your work), and more on their own busy lives.

Expecting your audience to read your entire saga is a discourtesy; you are not being respectful of their time. Respect their time by mixing in some short stories as most people can find the time to read something less than 10,000 words (even better, less than 5,000).

Compete With your Peers

This ups your game considerably. Put yourself out there, and don’t expect to win. Competitions are also a great way to get more people to read and review your work.

Keep Track of your Stats

You don’t have to be as analytical as I am, but it pays to at least have a handle on what’s popular, and what isn’t. These findings will probably differ from site to site, and having objective data means you’ll have a better idea of whether a story will go over well or poorly at a particular site.

Use Your Time Wisely

We all have lives, so writing time often has to be rationed. Determine what you want and need, and how well various sites satisfy those wants and needs. Do an informal cost-benefit analysis – does a site offer ease of posting? Better critiquing? A bigger audience? A better-matched audience to your work?

Build a Readership

Book reader
Book reader

When I learned I was going to be published, I told pretty much everyone in my network. A lot of people said they were excited about potentially seeing my wholly original work in print. This is not only ego-gratifying, it’s also, potentially, a source of reads (and even sales) and reviews for professional work. I’m not saying to become a writing mercenary.

Rather, cultivate and nurture your most loyal fans.

That doesn’t just mean being kind to them (which should be a given), and thanking them (another given); it also means listening to them. Do they want to see more original characters? A new horror story? More time travel? Do they think your last book dragged in the middle? Take them seriously. They are really trying to help you succeed. Let them.

Upshot

I have come a long way from picture books that I showed to no one, and stories that I left to rot in a trunk and are no more. Fan fiction has improved me as a writer, and has taught me to believe in myself. It has led me to becoming a published author. I owe it a lot.

Thank you.


You can find me on .

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Inspiration – Employment

 

Background

Like most adults of my generation, I have gone out to work.

Cover of "Office Space (Special Edition w...

 

I’ve had good jobs and bad ones, interesting ones and dull ones. I’ve been challenged, I’ve been browbeaten and I’ve been inspired. I’ve come home exhilarated, weepy, frustrated and exhausted. I’ve had situations that I wished would never end. And I’ve had jobs where I was climbing the walls, impatient to leave already.

These experiences can and do inform my Star Trek fanfiction at times.

Connections to Trek

Kirk and Pike
Kirk and Pike

The best and closest connection is in the HG Wells series. Those stories, in addition to being about Richard Daniels and his enlightenment, and about various romances and of course about time, they are also, very much, about the world of work.

Interviews

A Long, Long Time Ago contains within it a group interview and then a series of small one on one meetings. Otra conducts at least one of these meetings, and is satisfied with the candidate, until someone else hears her being referred to, by that candidate, as a salad head. That’s a slur, so that candidate is out, and there is no question.

Orientation

Ohio is centered around three separate training missions. Carmen takes Marisol to the Mirror universe. Kevin takes Tom to the start of World War III. And Rick takes Sheilagh to 1970 Kent State. Tom and Sheilagh are also given various surgeries in order to assist them in performing their jobs, so Boris gets something to do, too.

Vacation Time

You Mixed-Up Siciliano, meant to be a vacation in time (it’s 1960 Rome) turns into a disaster when Rick and Sheilagh are targeted by an assassin.

Upshot

We like to think that Starfleet personnel are just brought in, and that the best people are always hired and there is very little effort behind that. To my mind, that never rang true. I think there was effort behind it. And I also think that, sometimes, it’s not the best person who gets hired. Just like real life.

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Inspiration – Friendship

Background

It’s difficult to write about friendship in general terms without it being just a collection of well-worn phrases.

Handshake with Crown
Handshake with Crown (Photo credit: DivaLea)

Complicating matters is the fact that most alien makeup on Star Trek is meant to be light.

After all, the audience will be better able to sympathize with a character if he or she is at least superficially humanoid. Plus recognizable guest stars (and their agents!)  want performances to be memorable. It’s not impossible to do that if an actor is all but unrecognizable, but it sure does raise the degree of difficulty.

So instead I’ll go with what I know.

Canon friendships

Malcolm and Tripp

Malcolm and Tripp go  looking for 'love' in all the wrong places
Malcolm and Tripp go looking for ‘love’ in all the wrong places

Perhaps the best-known friendship in Star Trek: Enterprise is that between Tripp and Malcolm.

Yes, yes, I know about the Tripp/Jonathan friendship. But that is more of a relationship of unequals.

When it comes to Malcolm and Tripp, I feel that a big chance was blown there, for they could have been much more of a source of comic relief. Actor Dominic Keating in particular is a real-life cut up, so it could have worked, certainly in the first two seasons of the program. I have revived that, a bit, particularly in Broken Seal, where together they pull a small prank on Hoshi.

Hoshi and Travis

Less cultivated and less explored was the friendship between the two ensigns.

Hoshi and Travis
Hoshi and Travis

In the aforementioned Broken Seal, the two of them work together in order to prank Tucker back, as Reed has already apologized.

It is easy and, I feel, a bit of a cop-out, to just ‘ship them and be done with it.

Friendships seem to be more complicated, and perhaps truer. After all, how many of us romance our coworkers – particularly if we are stuck with them, more or less 24/7, and can’t resign, even if we want to?

Other Friendships

There are, of course, other friendships, and other series. In particular, I think the friendships between Data and Geordi, and between Geordi and Wesley (although that one is more of a mentor/protegé setup) are very believable in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Furthermore, the friendships among Bones, Spock and Kirk in the original series have spawned tons of slash.

But sometimes a friendship is … just a friendship.

Fanfiction Friendships

Possibly my best-realized friendship is that between Aidan MacKenzie and Chip Masterson. It is quite the bromance, on both  sides of the pond.

Aidan MacKenzie
Aidan MacKenzie

Aidan is the good-looking guy, the Tactical Ensign with a fine career ahead of him. It is fully-realized, too, as he eventually becomes a captain in Equinox.

In Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before, Aidan is already slated for Tactical. For the project to improve the inertial dampers, he is brought in for one real purpose, to do the presentation. Because otherwise he doesn’t know a thing about engineering. He is also an eager participant in the second prank that occurs in that story.

Up in the Air premiere - Ryerson Theatre - Sep...
Up in the Air premiere – Ryerson Theatre – September 12, 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chip, on the other hand, is much more of a jokester. In Together, he dreams of doing standup.

As the self-appointed ‘movie guy’, he selects the films (Aidan is the projectionist), and his taste is reflected in many of the choices on screen. But he is not above silliness and, in Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before, it’s his initial prank that sets the events in motion.

The two are even pranksters in the Mirror Universe. In Brown, they are tasked with removing a rodent infestation from the ISS Defiant. But things don’t go according to plan, as they are both fed up with the Empress.

 Personal Friendships

My own friendships creep in, on occasion. Part-Gorn Kevin O’Connor is based on a person of the same name. Andrew and Lucy‘s daughter is named for a dear friend of mine, as are Jay Hayes’s sister (Laura), M’Roan (in a way), Eleanor Daniels, Crystal Sherwood, Hamilton Roget, Mindy Ryan, Stacey Young and Darragh Stratton. Some are closer than others, who would likely be surprised if they were told that they were being included in some small way.

Upshot

Relationships between people do not have to always mean lust and romance. Friendship is, truly, just as beautiful, and just as sustaining, and should not be dismissed lightly.

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Inspiration – Exercise

How does Exercise fit in with Creation?

For the past five years, I have become much more of an exercise devotée. I had needed to lose a lot of weight and, through exercise in part, I was able to accomplish that. Hence exercise has become a part of my life.

A lot of that comes in the form Naomi Watts walkingof walking. And by walking around, I see things that I otherwise would not.

And that can sometimes bring on some unexpected inspiration.

For Boris Yarin, I grabbed his name from the Toyota Yaris. I have no particular affection for this car; it just so happened to be a name plate that I saw over and over again for a while there.

Daranaeans are mainly inspired by various dogs I’ve met in my travels.

Exercise also tends to help in terms of working out dialog. I can “hear” it in my head as I walk, and I am away from the keyboard (which means I am away from things like Facebook as well). Plus there’s music. For Pamela Hudson in particular, that character was so defined by her theme music that I received inspiration whenever I listened to Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good. I mainly listen to music when I am walking, and I would listen to that song over and over again as I was writing Intolerance and then, later, Together, as Pamela has a cameo in that book, too. It was, in many ways, like taking dictation.

Races

I don’t just walk. Sometimes, I run, and it’s generally in the context of 5K races (I run between 9 and 12 every year these days). Because I am busy dealing with my pacing and timing, Finisher MedalI usually am unable to work out dialog, etc.

However, the sheer act of racing has proven inspirational. I wanted one of the Digiorno-Madden-Beckett offspring to have a weight problem, so I settled on Neil Digiorno-Madden. Neil is the only one of the prime universe/prime timeline children to become a chef (Joss Reed-Hayes also becomes a chef and he even succeeds Lili and Will Slocum in that area, but he is from the first E2 temporal kick-back and is not a part of the prime timeline), hence there can often be weight issues when you are tasting food all day long.

I also wanted Neil to be doing something about it, so he was mentioned as running a 5K in Fortune. Eventually just that little story was told, in The Medal.

Upshot

I truly believe that working out and getting away from the keyboard have both helped a great deal in terms of keeping writer’s block at bay. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and one word in front of the next and you’ll get somewhere eventually!

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Inspiration – Life Events

Background

I don’t write Star Trek fanfiction in a vacuum. Like anyone else, life gets in the way, it meanders around or my writing does, and the two collide. For what is writing without a connection to real life events?

Dating, Love, Wedding and Marriage

My own marriage and wedding are a bit of fiction fodder, Vulcan weddingI admit it, and back into dating, too, of course. These are major life events, and the lead up to them as well. A Kind of Blue absolutely evokes the excitement of my own wedding (I was not pregnant) and also a little bit of the uncertainty about the future. You wonder if everything is going to be all right. So far, so good.

Dating in a lot of ways informs Reversal, as Lili first goes on a disastrous blind date with Brian Delacroix (as Jenny Crossman pushes away a grabby Aidan MacKenzie) and then goes on a number of memorable (literal) dream dates with Doug. Her E2 experiences with Jay Hayes and Malcolm Reed are also very date-centric.

Birth of Nephews

I have no children of my own, Human-Vulcan hybrid babyso my nephews stand in for the kids I write about. Stories such as Tumult give life to the sense of waiting around – seemingly forever – in hospital rooms. Small children are seen there, and in Together, Temper, and Fortune, among other places, including The Facts.

Life at Work

I’ve had any number of work experiences, Striking union workersmuch like anyone of my age does. In particular, the HG Wells stories evoke work and working conditions. I’ve had bosses like Carmen Calavicci. She’s a bit brassy but she gets the job done. In A Long, Long Time Ago, potential employees are put through a group interviewing process – and I have been through such interviews, too. As the series progresses and the time travelers learn to work together, that also evokes various work experiences. People do not immediately have chemistry. Sometimes you need to really try in order to make things work.

Justice and Mercy

I’ve practiced law Tribunal(that was a long, long time ago!), and so I’ve seen trials and I’ve been behind the scenes. I wanted Shell Shock to bring a lot of that knowledge to the fore. A pair of trials are also conducted in the E2 stories. I wanted very much for the concept of people trying to do the right thing, even if they don’t necessarily have the means or knowledge with which to do so, to be understood by the reader.

Medical Care and Crises

I have seen people who were very sickSick Bay and, truly, dying. Of course I don’t just witness such things and take notes for my writing or anything. I am not outside of the moment. But these things do happen, and they are, indeed, remembered. In the E2 stories, and in Shell Shock, characters emerge from comas (in the former, the emergence is overtly included, in the latter, only the aftermath is seen).

Death

For experiences of death, and characters’ reactions thereto, I tend to rely rather heavily on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Her five stages of grief, in particular, informed the Hold Your Dominion/Gina Nolan stories. Mourning is evoked in Fortune, but also in Equinox, A Hazy Shade and Remembrance.

Upshot

For Star Trek to be Star Trek, there are any number of ships, aliens and whiz-bang effects. But, more importantly, there are people. And those people tend to have experiences that are a lot like our own, or at least their experiences should be similar to ours. Otherwise, it’s just a lot of ships whooshing by and a lot of explosions, and not much else. Fine in the moment, but not memorable, and certainly nothing that has survived for over four and a half decades. It’s the stories about people that survive. By placing my own experiences into my writing, I am hoping, if not for immortal stories, then at least for tales with more depth. I hope I’ve achieved a small measure of that.

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Inspiration – Names

Background

I take names seriously, and, truth be told, that’s actually Star Trek canon. A lot of the named characters, particularly the ones who do not have English-style names, have meaningful appellations.

Nyota Uhura
Nyota Uhura

Take Hoshi Sato, for example. The first name means “star”. The surname means “at home”. Hence, she is “at home in the stars”.

A similar situation exists with Nyota Uhura. Nyota means “star” and Uhura means “freedom”. Are communications officers required to be named Star?

Canon to Fanfiction

For my characters, names have meanings that draw from heritage, repeat in order to show familial relationships, and have meanings unto themselves.

In Between Days

Doug Beckett is so named because Douglas means “dark stranger”, which is exactly what he is – a stranger from the Mirror Universe, first experienced in pitch darkness.

Lili O’Day‘s full name – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day – evokes several themes. Her first name means “free woman” and her middle name is of course a flower (and Malcolm refers to her, in the prime timeline, as Lili-Flower). Her surname sets up the contrast to Doug, for she is quite literally “of the day”.

Malcolm Reed (alternate timeline)
Malcolm Reed (alternate timeline)

Because the name Malcolm means “a devotee of Saint Columba“, and that is the patron saint of poets and bookbinders, I make Malcolm a gifted poet. The reed (which of course is the lower, non-flowering part of a plant), is evoked as he and Lili, in Together, talk about the flower and the reed, and she assures him that the flower is pretty and all, but the flower can’t live without the reed.

For Melissa Madden, in part it’s a shout-out to future canon character Martin Madden.

Melissa means “honey bee” and she is a rather earthy individual. As for Leonora Digiorno, Leonora means “light” (Malcolm incorrectly refers to her as the Lioness) and Digiorno is the same as O’Day, “of the day”. Her relationships are purely in the day, hence she is solely a daylight character.

Times of the HG Wells

The Wells characters were less name-driven but there are some highlights. Sheilagh and Darragh are both Irish-type spellings, meant to impart a somewhat exotic flavor. HD Avery is really Henry Desmond, with the middle name being a shout-out to Dominic Keating‘s first real role, in a British sitcom called Desmond’s. Carmen means “garden”, an offhanded joke as the character is a sophisticated urbanite. The characters Tom and Kevin hearken back to the In Between Days series and are meant to show a relationship to that earlier series.

Otra, the half-Witannen character, has a name meaning a small animal, like a mouse. I also used Glyph as the name of a Ferengi, as short nouns are canon for Ferengi names (e. g. Quark and Nog). Von is another Ferengi name, but I grabbed that one from baseball – Von Hayes (yet another shout-out to Steven Culp).

Interphases

For this series, character names have to evoke a time period properly. Rosemary Parker’s name fits in with her birth in the 1920s, whereas Jacob, Benjamin and Dorcas all evoke the 1700s. Jim, the son of Benjamin and Dorcas, is a shout-out to Mark Twain’s Jim character in Huckleberry Finn.

Emergence and Mixing it Up

For both of these series, since there are several aliens, names had to be made up. Skrol is meant to sound a bit like Slar, the only known named Gorn. Etrina, Tr’Dorna and Sophra are all made-up names, meant to sound feminine. Bron is intended to evoke a feeling of brawn.

For Daranaeans, female names end with vowels whereas as male names often (but not always) end with an -s. Prime Wife females, being considered superior, are given names with a soft th- sound in them, such as Thessa, Dratha and Kathalia. This is the th- sound in thistle, rather than in the. The sound, anywhere in the word, is meant to mean “smell”, with a positive connotation. Secondaries get somewhat pretty names, often with m- sounds, like Morza and Mistra, but sometimes not, like Cria and Inta (in all fairness, the younger Inta, a secondary, is named after a last caste female). Third caste females tend to get shorter names, like Darri and Fyra and Cama. The men’s names are all over the place, from Elemus and Arnis to Craethe and Trinning.

Calafans

Calafans love names and meanings so much that it’s a standard greeting to a new person – “what is your name, and what does it mean?” The first time Lili hears this, in Local Flavor, she is a bit appalled as it is a part of a come-on.

Men often get the -wev ending, which means “master of”, whereas women often get the yi- prefix, meaning “student of”. But the differences are not intended to be sexist. With no middle names and no last names, a lot hinges on a name, and they cannot be repeated. Therefore, names are given out by the government, and parents often petition for a name for their baby while the child is still in utero. Names are then released upon death. Names without either prefix include Treve (messenger) and Miva (clay).

Upshot

For me, the naming of characters is a deeply person act. Alien names are a great deal of fun to come up with, as I put together sounds I like or that seem to harmonize, and then attach meanings to them. Sometimes a character doesn’t really “click” until he or she has been named. Then, suddenly, it can all fall into place.

Inspiration – The Physical World

Inspiration – The Physical World

What do I mean by the physical world, and why should it be an inspiration for Star Trek fanfiction?

Observations

Almost every single day, I go for a walk around my neighborhood. This walk takes anywhere from twenty to ninety minutes, on average. I live in an urban area, but there are a lot of wooded areas. I see wildlife quite a bit of the time. My eyes are open, and I am often inspired by what I see.

Animals

Because aliens need to eat, they need food animals. In Reversal, I established that the Mirror Universe members of the Defiant‘s crew often go hunting, as the rations there are so bad. The idea is enlarged upon in Fortune. Hence they had to have something they could hunt. A hunt is even shown (although it’s in our universe) as the opening scene in Temper.

Inspiration – The Physical World

I already had elekai (a large flightless bird) and I already had perrazin (a blonde buffalo with fangs or tusks). But I wanted something smaller, a kind of quick and easy hunt. Plus the perrazin are omnivores. Therefore, they needed something that they could readily hunt. I was seeing bunny rabbits on my walks. Therefore, I hit upon the idea of linfep.

Plants

The idea of a plant that would change its flavor, due to its degree of ripeness, isn’t exactly original. After all, underripe fruits taste differently (usually, they are more sour) versus ripened ones, and overripe ones can be cloying or even nauseating. Olowa, however, was written to much more radically change flavor. A part of that was simply to be able to use the idea for double and triple duty. A fruit that tastes like pears can become preserves. When it tastes like peanuts, it can be mashed into a reasonable facsimile of peanut butter. And when it tastes spicy, it can be used in Mexican or Thai cooking.

Another plant, which would grow up fast, was based in part on bamboo  (and tofflin is meant to look a bit like bamboo). However, the idea that a portion of the plant is poisonous was taken straight from the reality of

Inspiration – The Physical World

rhubarb, which has poisonous leaves (just like tofflin).

Sentient Species

The Daranaeans proved to be great fun to write, as I got the idea from the marsupial wolf. There was a while there where I just had a scrap of paper, saying smart kangaroos on it, and nothing else.

Scenery and Visuals

Inspiration – The Physical World

Strange other things have proven inspiring. The name plate on a Toyota Yaris inspired the idea of the surname Yarin, as in Doctor Boris Yarin. A sign for Rebecca’s Cafe ‘n Catering brought forth a name for the E2 stories – Scafen (he’s a Xindi).

Continued Inspiration

What I have found, as I go on in life, is that there’s something out there, almost every day, that can be inspiring. You just have to look, be open to it and – probably most importantly – write it down.

Inspiration – TV shows

Inspiration – TV shows

Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. Because my first exposure to Star Trek was watching the original series in its first run, naturally some inspiration comes from the big flashing box in the living room.

Star Trek

Star Trek itself is, of course, an inspiration, and there are a lot of cross-references among the various series, plus the films. I’ll explore that in another blog entry.

Quantum Leap

Inspiration – TV shows

Between Captain Archer and Sam Beckett both being played by Scott Bakula, and Crewman Daniels the time traveler having to fix various temporal issues, and Colonel Grat and Al Calavicci both being played by Dean Stockwell, Quantum Leap was a logical place to turn for inspiration.

QL shows up in all sorts of places. Richard Daniels’s boss is the feminine version of Al – Admiral Carmen Calavicci. The premise of the Times of the HG Wells series is to put back what a faction has meddled with – in short, it’s the reverse of Quantum Leap. Reversal‘s reference to the Defiant‘s database as being so full of holes that it’s like Swiss cheese is a direct reference. Richard’s original girlfriend, Tina, is another reference, as is him being called “Future Man”, a play on the “Future Boy” episode. Even a calla lily worn in a groom’s lapel is a shout-out to the series.

Steven Culp

 

Inspiration – TV shows
Steven Culp

Culp played Major J. Hayes on Enterprise and so a lot of references swirl around him and various television roles he’s played. References to Desperate Housewives come from E2 characters Bree Tanner and Rex Ryan and Reversal characters Jennifer Crossman and Brian Delacroix are references to Marcia Cross,

the actress who played his wife on that show.

There are also some references to JAG, including character Aidan MacKenzie, a shout-out to character Sarah MacKenzie. Both are called “Mac”. In addition, character Melissa Madden is “played” by Catherine Bell, who of course played Sarah MacKenzie.

There’s even a throwaway reference to ER – Culp’s character was named Dave Spencer, which is also the name I’ve given to Tina April’s stepfather.

Dominic Keating

Keating, of course, played Malcolm Reed on Enterprise.

Inspiration – TV shows

Malcolm is a major character in the In Between Days series. Therefore, there are a lot of references around him as well. In Intolerance, the character names Blair, Claymore, Nguyen, Owen and Will all refer to something to do with Keating.

Other references

The surname Sloane is a quick shout-out to Cheers – that was Diane Chambers’s boyfriend in the pilot. Chip Masterson‘s real first name, Chandler, is a reference to Friends. So is the throwaway reference to one of Melissa Madden’s sisters – Monica. Her sister Meghan is a reference to The Thorn Birds.

There are more references, and undoubtedly there will be more to come. Can you spot them all?