Thursday, June 25, 2009

Star Trek

I finally got to see the new Star Trek movie yesterday and I loved it. I didn't want to leave the theater! I'd like to talk a little about it from a writer's perspective.

One of the things I loved about it was the feeling of hope and daring bravado. I wanted to be part of that grand adventure that Enterprise was going on. The feeling was so powerful that I've been thinking about the movie ever since and why it worked, plus what it tells me, as a writer, about sequels.

Hope. It's one of the most powerful emotions we can have and perhaps one of the strongest antidotes to fear. There's hope in this movie. Hope that against all odds, overwhelming evil power can be defeated. As human beings we want and need to believe that. writers, hope is something very powerful to include as part of our books.

Daring. Life can be scary at times—and for many people it is right now. The reaction may be to cling to what we know, what feels safe and yet rarely is that the safest strategy. Often the safest thing we can do is let ourselves be vulnerable and take risks. Not foolish risks but risks like the characters take in Star Trek—risks for a greater goal, a greater good, because it matters and because the outcome is so important. In our books, the risks our characters learn to take need to matter, too, and if we do it well can inspire readers to take good risks in their own lives.

Connection. On a very deep and profound level we all need to feel connected to others. The movie lets us see characters we've loved in the past. This is one reason series books are often so popular with readers—the chance to see beloved characters again and again.

Now about sequels and prequels. How often does a sequel/prequel work—especially if it's written by someone other than the original author? This does. Why? Because the twist was added that now things have changed. The characters can be somewhat different because different events are shaping them. At the same time, the have the same essential personalities they did before—though in some cases (okay Spock) we get a different perspective on those personalities. Both the familiar and the new. So there's a reason to keep watching, to want more Star Trek movies to see with this new crew.

Sure I have quibbles. What Trekkie or science oriented person doesn't? But ultimately what I care most about is how the movie made me FEEL. And that's an important lesson for any of us who are writers. What readers will ultimately care about most is how we make them feel.

Happy Writing everyone!

Friday, June 12, 2009


Life is always changing. And if we're writers that's a good thing because stories are about changes. A story begins when something changes in the lives of our major characters.

My daughter moved in briefly with me and has now moved out again. (That's part of why I haven't had a chance to post in a while.) It was great to have her here and good to know she's moving on to the next step. Sophy, my dog, is moping, of course, and spending a lot of time with her stuffed squeaky bear to cope.

Change is opportunity as well as challenge. It's growth as well as stress. It's a chance to move in new directions. That's true in life and it's true in our writing. If you're a writer and stuck in your story, it can be very useful to ask how you want or need your character to grow and what change would push them in the right direction. How will they resist the change or will they go with it willingly? One of the joys of being a writer is that we get to play with all the possibilities!