Date: 3/3/97 8:51:00 PM
<<Will Bashir still have the LMH modeled after him?>>
<<When did you go to Cornell, and isn't Ethan Phillips a graduate of Cornell
I was in the class of '86. I didn't know that about Ethan.
<<How did you come to use Les Miserables (A Great story, book and musical) in
"For the Uniform"? Is there a big Les Mis fan on the set?>>
Ira, Hans, and I discussed this scene at length. I believe it was Ira's idea
to have Eddington send Sisko a book and that Hans and I came up with "Les
<< Are we going to see more of the Romulan woman in "By Inferno's Light"?>>
Possibly, but we don't have anything planned.
<<Could you please suggest a daily writing schedule and explain breifly the
process one NEEDS to go through to complete a finished Star Trek Script. >>
I won't give you a daily schedule, but these are the steps we go through on
every episode and which might give you a structure for your work:
1) The story idea. This is either a pitch from a freelancer or an idea
cooked up by a member of the staff. A pitch is about 2 pages, double-spaced
and it is the basic idea of the show you're proposing. It's little more than
the basic beginning, middle, and end of your story and it's a good place to
start. BTW, EVERY story can be boiled down to this level. If you're saying
"my story is too complex, too big to be put down in 2 pages," you're WRONG.
"The Illiad" can be boiled down to 2 pages. It won't do Homer justice, but
it can be done. The purpose of making it this brief is to get to the core of
the idea, the basic premise which you're going to wrap your story around.
2) The story outline. This is a more detailed document that expands on the
pitch you just did. Our outlines are 5-9 pages double-space. The focus here
is to flesh out the story and describe the "character arcs" within the
episode which are the individual stories of the lead characters in your
piece. Is it a tale of Worf's redemption? Sisko's struggle with an ethical
dilemma? Whatever -- this is when you describe the REAL story of the
episode. Why are we going to watch this show? What's it REALLY about?
3) The Beat Sheet. This is a detailed outline of the entire episode, broken
down "beat" by "beat" or scene by scene. Each beat tells you: a) where the
scene takes place; b) who's in it; c) what happens. Example:
1) INT. OPS - Sisko, Kira, and O'Brien at their stations. Some chit-chat
about O'Brien's latest adventure with Bashir in Holosuite. A ship comes
through the wormhole and hails us. It's the Exeter and her Captain has a
shipment of dangerous TECH on-board that he needs to off-load immediately.
Sisko clears him to dock and sends Kira to...
2) INT. DOCKING BAY.....
The beat sheet is usually produced on the show by the entire writing staff.
We all sit in a room together and "break" the story on a large white board.
This is where the real heavy lifting of the show gets down. The structure
of the show is determined by the beat sheet and the structure IS the show.
The final beat sheet often changes radically from the story outline and you
shouldn't be afraid to do that if you suddenly get a better idea. This is a
tough document to produce by yourself, but I find it much preferable to do
this step rather than plunge blindly into the teleplay armed only with my
story outline and then find myself in trouble in Act Three when I realize
that the structure isn't working. Much better to have that realization while
you're working on the beat sheet and change is a matter of a few strokes of
the pen (or keyboard) rather than chucking out 30 pages of teleplay.
(More on this in the next post...)
Date: 3/3/97 9:01:52 PM
Writing steps continued from last post:
4) The Teleplay. You learn by doing. And re-doing. Write a 1st draft, then
set it aside and let someone else read it and give you notes. Let several
people read it and give you notes. Listen to what they say, take a hard look
at your work and then decide which notes make sense and which don't. Then go
back and WRITE IT AGAIN. Rewriting is not only part of the game in TV, it's
A LOT of the game and you better get used to it. On the good side, things
usually only get better as you rewrite, not worse. And at some point, you
have to decide that enough is enough, you're done with this script, put a
title page on it and move on to the next one. And start the process all over
<<Who ACTUALLY wrote "Meridian?">>
There's plenty of blame to go around, but Rene did the lion's share of the
<<Any more Keiko episodes in the works? >>
We have some ideas, but nothing firm.
<<I've noticed that DS9 tends to exile their characters from their
backgrounds very often....My question is why do you keep separating your
characters from what they are? Are you just trying to get some different
This has just sort of developed over the course of the seasons. We didn't
really plan for DS9 to become the island of misfit toys, but it seems to have
worked out that way. I dunno, I kinda like it.
<<Has the entire fleet changed to the FC uniforms? If so why is the Officer
in the backround of Captain Sisko nd the Admerals talk on bajor in "Rapture"
wearing TNG style Uniform?>>
Theorectically, the uniform change is still occuring out there in the Fleet.
This gives us freedom to still use the old uniforms and not have to
constantly build new ones or alter them to fit new actors, both of which are
<<Also why do you guys have starfleet changing uniforms so much.>>
The DS9 uniforms were intended to set the show apart from TNG. The FC
uniforms grew out of a disatisfaction with the way the DS9 and TNG costumes
looked on the big screen.
<<I have now heard reports of not one, but two of the DS9 actors saying at
conventions that next season is the last, like this is already decided, but
elsewhere I hear that Paramount is still hoping for seven or more.>>
I get the feeling I'm going to be answering this question for quite awhile,
but here goes: There is no definite word one way or the other on season 7.
The studio has said on several occasions that they would LIKE the show to go
7, but there's nothing firm and the betting right now is that 6 will be the
last -- but that's just a guess at this time.
<<Since I heard previously that you don't like to answer technical questions
(things like starship length, etc...), is there anyplace (website, book, or
other publication) where this information can be found?>>
There are several books out there (The TNG Technical Manual, The TNG
Companion, The Trek Chronology, etc.) but as for websites, I think someone
else will have to refer you to them.