November 22, 2023Unexpected Inspiration

I confessed in my November 8th blog to being an old Trekkie.

I was there when it began in 1966 and through the years I’ve kept up with the spin-off shows and movies.

But I’ve never gone to a convention. And beyond just a casual chat with a fellow Trekkie, I don’t get too carried away with picking apart plots and discussing the accuracy of the portrayed technology or science (as if as if I’d be capable!). I can’t tell you how many versions of the Enterprise there’s been, or tell you how to get from the bridge to engineering or the holodeck.

But for some Trek fans, the next best thing to watching the show is discussing it all with other fans. It’s the same for all creatives … the next best thing to drawing and writing is discussing, watching, learning from other creatives who are drawing and writing, or whatever kind of art you do.

So – after watching some old movies the night before and being in a Trekkie kind of mood that particular day – when a post from a Star Trek fan site popped up on Facebook, it caught my eye. It wasn’t the usual joke … it was a member complaining and defending the group from folks who apparently come onto their page and tell the Trekkies “It’s just a SHOW, people!”. How rude!

I agree … it is rude! They created their own group and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to visit. This is the downside of social media … anyone, anytime, spouting their opinions even when it’s unnecessary and irrelevant.

So I got interested in what this person would say, and the comments that followed were rather amazing. These people should teach classes on storytelling … oh, wait a minute … that’s what my blogs and website focus on! So heads up all you storytellers out there … here are some good storytelling insights from the Star Trek fans …

(These are from the Star Trek Forever fan page on Facebook. By the time this blog is published, that particular post will be weeks old – November 1st – and way down in the feed, so I couldn’t figure out how to link to it. Most quotes are partial and I mostly removed the Star Trek references to show you how relevant to storeytelling in general these are. The first 2 quotes are from the original post, and the rest are from the comments.)

• Humans have an ancient tradition of storytelling which goes back long before recorded history. Just because something is made up, that doesn’t make it meaningless. We sometimes invent stories precisely because we want to make points relevant to reality, in a way which makes them more clear and even more entertaining. – Mike Y.

• We know the difference between reality and fiction. The reason why we try to resolve contradictory plot points with in-Universe explanations is that it’s FUN. It’s a bit of mental exercise with a fictional component which makes it more enjoyable. We’re well aware that the real explanations for such plot holes are almost always “careless writing” or “budgetary concerns,” but that doesn’t make for an interesting discussion. We KNOW that the sociological and political allegories on the show are invented by creative writers … – Mike Y.

• … storytelling is perhaps the very first of all art forms, shaped into cave paintings and progressing from there to give us an understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. To create art is our human birthright. – Michael G.

• Just to reiterate, it is a testament to the writing, acting and production and the people that keep it alive every day that we are so invested in something so silly and wonderful and good. Like how many shows deliver a message of hope on the regular that people latch on to? – Sean K.

• It's fine eventually throw up your hands in the face of the pseudoscience, but if you dismiss the moral aspect for the allegory, that's where I think people who declare that it's just a TV show are kind of cheating. Are you also dismissing the reality facing end of the allegory? Are you dismissing the importance of people of color, people of different orientations etc. Being present in the future? – Carnot A. R.

• I have come to realize there is a sizable portion of the population that just lack curiosity. They don't want to think new thoughts or find new stuff out, they don't want to learn anything new and their reaction when confronted with new information is always "no thanks". And so they don't want to *discuss* tv shows, they just want to sit comfortably in the existing intuitive experience of it. No analysis, no theorizing beyond maybe, at a stretch, what they think might happen in the next episode. And they don't like when things change – every episode should be just like all the others. Expectation subversion is their least favorite thing, because it requires a change in perspective. I feel for these people. And hope they someday find themselves in a mental space and physical situation where they find their curiosity. – Mikael B.

• Of course, as you have mentioned, it is a TV show, but the storylines can often be thought-provoking. Gene Roddenberry was a humanist and sought to include many of his life values in each episode. For example, in a time when there were a lot of issues between humans who look or sound different, and when their acceptance was often challenged, he put those differences front and centre. Showing what is inside is what counts. These values are still important to us today and the message, whilst heard by many, has yet to sink in for everyone. – Robyn P.

• It is a very necessary escape for many people no matter what the show, truly. It's a harsh jolt for someone whose circumstances you have no idea of - and telling them in so many words they are not smart enough to distinguish TV from reality is just mean. – Victoria A.

• Another (and more common) reason for what you refer to as “plot holes” is simply dramatic license: apparent errors, inconsistencies or contradictions built into the plot (or action) for the sake of drama, artistic or entertainment value. And so, in every Star Trek TV show and movie objects and starships moving through the vacuum of space produce sound which we know to be scientifically impossible. – Jay F.

• I believe it's valid to critique entertainment, not necessarily to be critical, but to analyze what is presented to the audience. Having said that, Star Trek is an iconic concept, and deserves respect for being ground-breaking and exposing a wider audience to science fiction beyond bug-eyed monsters. – Steve H.

• These characters are fictional but they are the heroes we should aspire to be. – Lisa K.

• I guess it depends on the nature of the discussion and the nature of the disagreement. You can say "This fictional story illustrates my thinking, and contains the preconditions I'm assuming are true." If someone rejects the illustration as fictional, all they're doing is refusing to consider the point of view at all. On the other hand, you can say, "Counselor Troi said such-and-such is the nature of human obsession." In that case, it would be completely fair for someone to remind you that you're using fiction as a source objective information. – Alan S.

• Fiction is reality filtered through the mind of a writer. – Michael R. H.

So there you have it folks … keep writing those children’s books …

… because it’s FUN!
… because your readers are learning about life.
… because they’re learning to think.
… because your own values, knowledge and life experience shine through your art.
… because it’s educational. A reader who won’t read a textbook will still learn about facts through well researched fiction.
… because your work will reach people you‘ll never meet, and will be around long after you’re gone.
… because putting your work out there for public scrutiny will hone your creative skills and improve your work.
… because it stretches you and your readers.
… because you can inspire your readers.
… because readers can learn lessons about difficult life situations without actually going through the situations.
… because you move readers to consider and ponder life.

If at any time someone accuses you of getting carried too away and being a bit of a nerd, be proud! You are in good company!

But do be careful on social media. There are groups and sites on the edge for sure. Just scroll on by and don’t stir up trouble. They won’t appreciate it and you’ll likely regret it in the end. Just brace yourself for things like this when they pop up:

Honestly … sometimes I think the future’s not looking too bright for the carbon-based units.

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