I have been a fan of the writer Peter David for many years. After being away from comics for some years, I discovered his run on the Hulk, and also found his work on the Star Trek novels. He was the best writer for those, for my taste anyway. There were plenty of in-jokes for fans in those stories, and they felt like episodes that could have happened but we never saw - though most of them would have been beyond the constraints of a TV budget.
As books tend to be, they were also a bit more internal, and may not have worked as live-action episodes. They also were able to freely jump around in time and see the characters at different ages, and jump back to earlier decades of the franchise. Not so easy to do convincingly in live action, even with modern technology!
But what I found interesting is an interview with Mr. David where he explained the unique challenge of writing in an established world, and ‘writing around’ an existing, ongoing series of shows and movies: at the time of his Star Trek heyday, Peter was writing Next Generation books while the series, and then the movies, were still being produced.
It is very similar to fan fiction, where a writer is playing in these pre-existing worlds, with pre-existing characters.
So he says he had to write the illusion of a character arc. Picard had to SEEM to go through a character journey, but by the end of the story, he would be the same guy as he was at the beginning. A couple times, he did books that were mostly flashbacks, like fleshing out the backstory of Riker and Troi and their relationship in Imzadi.
There were a few of his books that I wished had been episodes. Q-Squared was a favorite, as was Imzadi 2. He did a great story called “The Rift” that featured the crew of the Enterprise from the original pilot episode under Captain Pike, and then jumped forward to the late days of the classic crew under Captain Kirk. Cool stuff and it was satisfying to imagine this stuff “really happened” between the episodes and movies.
This kind of Non-Arc Arc shows up in a lot of episodic television (including the Next Generation series of course). It's also a good approach for fanfiction I'd imagine (although from what I've heard, much of fanfiction doesn't do this, and breaks the status quo of the series in question). If I were going to do a fanfiction, I think that's the approach I'd take, fleshing out what's already there and maybe telling an “untold story” that still leaves the canon intact.
Anyway, those are some straggling thoughts on our recent Newsposts related to fanfiction.
Have a good one!
Banes at 12:00AM, Sept. 10, 2020
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