The list so far - 1 Weekly trauma. Every 7 days the highest ranking officers on the Enterprise are subjected to terrible danger or significant stress. Those events are usually life threatening. But nobody shows signs of PTS.
2 The highest ranking officers survive every terrible event thrown at them. Only minor crew members get killed - crew members we've never seen before. 3 Every single alien the Enterprise encounters is 'humanoid' in appearance. 4 Every alien has a mouth and communicates by sound. There's never any reference to how the translation into english happens. The translation is automatic, smooth and accurate - no problems with stuff getting lost in translation or encounters with aliens who DON'T communicate via sound. 5 The technology on the ship is similiar to current technology - how come touch screens and tablets are still in use that far into the future? 6 The Klingons have figured out cloaking technology, but the rest of the Federation hasn't. After the Klingons joined the federation why didn't they share their cloaking technology with others? 7 No-one is ever shown using the holodeck for sex. In an emergency people will walk in and interrupt officers in the middle of a holodeck session - they never catch them out having virtual sex - no-one is concerned about PRIVACY. 8 Have viewers seen every part of the ship? Sometimes the main characters walk down a corridor past unknown crew members. Where are those minor characters going? What job do they perform? Example - Are they on the way to a huge 'laundry' room where uniforms are steam cleaned ?
Trying again to overcome resistance and fear. Trying to stick to a daily writing habit. Feeling inspired by the exercises in a gem of a book by Dorothea Brande - Becoming a Writer.
First exercise - write first thing every morning, before you do anything else. Without Fail. Write anything. And if you get stuck just write 'I Can't Think of Anything to Write' again and again, until boredom forces your brain to stop farting around and get to work.
I started writing in an old diary - feeling good about the way I could churn out 5-6 pages every morning. I scribbled out memories and how I felt about stuff. Then moved to writing out scenes and ideas for stories still floating in my head. And discovered (once again) that the act of writing really really helps the brain to solve problems. Possibilities come up - possibilities that wouldn't have risen up if I'd just been staring in space thinking about a problem. So I've been churning out tiny story scenes instead of stream of consciousness stuff.
Then I decided to type out the morning pages in a secret blog. So I can add tags and find stuff later. Also - hand written scrawl doesn't look like 'real' writing to me.
Some mornings I type out a few sentences on the iphone on the way to work. Because the morning writing session got me inspired and I want to keep experimenting. Even though I might have woken up with No Desire At All to write.
This morning I copied out a section from a short story by Jean Bedford - Through Road. It was a long paragraph showing the thoughts of woman who at that moment is feeling rage and resentment towards her husband. There's a long flow of angry thoughts - and then she laughs at herself and the story has an upbeat ending. Decided to re-work this for a scene in one of my stories. I love the sense of thoughts flooding out, the way significant moments across many years are linked. But in my story the girl will suddenly see reality and the relationship will end. There's pain, but also relief about finally being able to let go.
AND - Thanks to Jean Bedford I realised the back story I wanted to put at the start of the story can be there in the girl's thoughts at the end instead. The back story won't be an info dump because it will show why the girl is so sad and angry.
I came back to a short story I read in Strange Horizons. The opening paragraphs really stuck with me. Interesting how the writer Rich Larson starts with 'back story' and piles on the adjectives - two things the learner writer is told to avoid. The back story works for me because it raises questions : Why has Cedric come to work at this place? Why did he run away from his father and then his girl friend? What went wrong with his relationship? What happened before he arrived at the rig? Rich uses vivid poetic language that paints an alien and dark scene. Back story works when there are gaps in the facts provided - and those gaps intrigue the reader.
In Baltic waters, gnashed by dark waves, there stood an old oil platform on rusted legs. It was populated as rigs always are, by coarse men young and strong whose faces soon overgrew with bristle and bloat. Cedric was one of these.
He’d fled his father in New Zealand, then a pregnant girlfriend in Perth, arriving on the rig with insomniac eyes and an inchoate smile and a bank account in need of filling. In the pocket of his dull blue coverall, he carried an old Kindle with a spider-webbed screen and a Polaroid photograph of Violet when she was still slim and still laughed.
His days were filled by the slow geometry of pipefitting, the bone-deep clank of machinery, the shrieks and swoops of soot-stained gulls. At night, when the running lights cast wavery orange on the black water and a sea-breeze scoured at the omnipresent stench of oil, Cedric thought the rig was not so bad. At night he read Moby Dick and anything else vaguely nautical. At night, Violet was blurred beautiful by the webcam window, distended curve of her stomach cropped neatly away, and he nearly loved her again.
Some nights, Cedric stayed up top for hours to watch the starless sky and the ink-black sea. Dregs from this or that leak shimmered around the derrick’s legs. Scabs of tangled plastic bobbed between them. Some nights, Cedric thought he saw a shape moving in the water, but he knew all fish had fled long ago.