Friday, May 31, 2013

What Star Trek Taught Me About Science Fiction

Note: no movie spoilers will be included in the following post.  And if you don't enjoy science fiction, feel free to skip over this post :)

So I went and saw Star Trek: Into Darkness with my dad a week or so ago.  It was great and I really enjoyed it, so if you haven't seen it and enjoy action movies, I would definitely recommend it.

But it got me thinking.  Most good movies do, because I like to take my opinion of it and, as a writer, use it to my advantage.  Simply put, if I enjoy a movie, I try to pinpoint why  I enjoyed it, and use those strengths and ideas to improve my writing.  If I didn't like or, or didn't like some aspects of it, I'll figure out why those scenes or ideas damaged the overall plot, and I'll try not to bring that out in my writing.

However, this movie got me thinking for a whole other reason.  Before I launch into my explanation, let it be said that I'm a die-hard science fiction fan. I love it.  It's probably my favorite genre to both read and write.

There are multiple science fiction series out there that have succeeded, and all for a good reason.  The main series' that come to mind are Star Wars and Star Trek.  These two major series have had tons of books and movies and TV episodes that stemmed from their basic concepts.  I thought it for a while, and realized it's just because there's so much to tell.

For example, Star Wars is about an entire galaxy.  Sure, it generally follows the life of the Skywalker family, but it can be easily expanded.  With an idea and concept that big, it's not difficult for hundreds of books to be written about it.  But each book doesn't tackle every character and every conflict.  No, instead it narrows down to smaller plots - usually with one main villain and one main objective.

Science fiction concepts are so large, but books have to narrow down the plot.  It's tempting, while writing scifi, to try to describe what happens to everyone in the world.  That's why I think the most important thing to remember when writing is tell what needs to be told to move the story along, and nothing more.  The viewer/reader doesn't need to know everything - just what's important.

At the same time, you can't underexplain.  I had no previous knowledge of Star Trek before seeing the two new movies, and I was able to completely understand most of the movie.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you have to find a balance.  If you tell too much, the story will get too complicated and confusing, and if you tell too little, it will be too confusing in a while different way.

Balance is extremely important in writing, and I guess that's what I'm learning through this whole process :)

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