Tag Archives: Picard

The Stories That Endure

Hi everyone!

Image Source - www.pinterest.com
Image Source – http://www.pinterest.com

Do you know what Star Trek is?  What about Lord of the Rings?  How about the Never Ending Story or Labyrinth?

There are some stories out there that endure the test of time, ones that have such a powerful impact on the world that they just seem to never die.

In fact, it almost seems as if some will never die.  Never Ending Story is almost as old as I am at 32 years old.  Star Trek just celebrated it’s 50th anniversary this year!  And Lord of the Rings?  It was first published in 1954 as a sequel to the almost-as-popular The Hobbit, published in 1937.  That’s 79 years old, and it’s still just as popular, if not more so, than when it was first published!

And even though I’m not a fan myself, there are even older stories that still exist in our public consciousness: Shakespeare.  Often cited as the origin of the modern story, Shakespeare’s stories are told and retold, over and over and over again today.

Let us not forget the oldest of stories, too, what I recall someone once saying may very well be the first-ever written narrative: Beowulf, said to have been written between 975AD and 1010AD.

Why These Stories?

So what is it about these stories that allows them to endure?  Is it possible to examine these stories and figure out how to write the perfect popular story, which would endure for a thousand years or more?

Image Source - www.thedigitalbits.com
Image Source – http://www.thedigitalbits.com

For that matter, will the newer examples endure just as long as the older?  Will new Star Trek stories be told 500 years from now?  That’s an interesting question right there, being a sci-fi series.  500 years from now, further ahead than when Star Trek actually takes place, what new forms of entertainment will exist?  What forms of space-based travel?  Where will our society be?  And will there still be a place for Star Trek?

This is going to sound strange at first, but bear with me – for different, and yet strangely similar reasons, I think Star Trek will endure another 500 years or more.

generationsThe reason that differs from Lord of the Rings or even Beowulf?  Star Trek is a continuing narrative that can evolve.  Look no further than the vast differences between the original Star Trek series and The Next Generation, let alone the retelling of Kirk’s era in the new movies.

In fact, if Star Trek can continue to evolve (stop going backwards, Trek writers, and start moving forward in the story!) I think it might have more staying power than almost any other series out there.

…but then how is it the same?  What qualities does it have that means it will endure as long as the others?

There are many, I think.  But more than anything, I think there are two elements that are essential.

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Image Source – http://direimpulse.deviantart.com/

The first is wonder.  In this, Star Trek has the greatest advantage.  Lord of the Rings still makes me drop my jaw when I read about Moria or Minas Tirith.  I still get a sense of warmth in my soul when I see the Shire in the movies. I still get a sense of dread when I see Minas Morgul.  But Star Trek can reinvent itself with every incarnation, and show new, amazing places that have never before been seen in human history, limited only by imagination…

The second is perhaps one of the most important aspects of fiction, at least in my opinion, and I know I’ve talked about this before: the characters.

Image Source - l-o-t-r.tumblr.com
Image Source – l-o-t-r.tumblr.com

When I think of Lord of the Rings, I think of Frodo and Aragorn and Legolas, not the One Ring (though that comes in a close second.)  When I think of Beowulf, I think of, well, Beowulf.  When I think of Shakespeare, I think of King Lear or Romeo and Juliet (even though I really don’t like either of those…)  And when I think of Star Trek…well for me, the first thing I think of is Picard and Data, followed by the infamous trio, Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

These are memorable characters, many of whom start out by fulfilling common tropes, but quickly become much more complex and interesting.  Fulfilling the common tropes in the beginning makes them interesting on the surface and help readers or viewers attach to them quickly.  But by itself, common-trope characters alone would make people lose interest fast, and so it is the fact that they quickly become much more complex characters that helps them endure.

Image Source - www.inquisitr.com
Image Source – http://www.inquisitr.com

We become emotionally invested in characters.  Hate or like them, we want to see what happens to them.  We need to see how they overcome obstacle A, and then find out what obstacles B through Z will be and how they overcome them.

That is why these stories endure.  That is why they never die.

Because they spark our imagination, and pull on our heart strings, all at once…

What are your thoughts, dear readers?  Do you agree or do you think there is something else that ensures these stories will endure?

For that matter, what are some of your favorite stories that have already shown an endurance?  (Immediately, Disney characters are coming to my mind :) )

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

WAIT!!!!!!!!

There’s more.  A quick, exciting announcement!

The Orc War returns...
The Orc War returns…

 

The Power of Fictional Role Models – Make It So!

Hi everyone!

I have this somewhat vague memory in my head from I think 1st or 2nd grade, where we were supposed to write down who one of our favorite role models was, and why.  Then we were to stand up and tell the class what we wrote down.

Image Source - comicvine.com
Image Source – comicvine.com

I remember feeling very excited to make my presentation, and I was one of the first to give mine.  Who was my role model?  A fictional character.  In that specific case, Superman, because I had just watched the 2nd Superman movie (Christopher Reeves, yeah!)

And everyone laughed.  It was heartbreaking.  So I sat down, and I listened to the rest, wondering why they laughed.  I noticed that no one else presented fictional characters.  They all gave real people, either family members or historical figures.

For a long time after that, I had it in my head that it was wrong to look up to ‘fictional characters’ as role models.  I stopped admitting that to anyone for a long time.

I don’t remember when I realized it, but one day I came to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with looking up to a fictional character as a role model.  Are they real?  Perhaps not.  Yet characters exist in our hearts just the same as real people do.

And they can make exceptional role models.

Certainly this is not to downplay the power of people in our every day lives, as we grow up, turn into adults, and even for the rest of our lives.  As I noted in my first novel, my parents are very much the reason I am the good man I am today.

But they weren’t alone.  They weren’t the only people to shape who and what I was to become.

The Formative Years – Jean-Luc Picard

Image source - fanpop.com
Image source – fanpop.com

For those who know me in person, I doubt it comes as any surprise that one of the greatest influences in my life has been Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek The Next Generation.  I grew up with TNG, literally.  As a kid, I never got to watch TNG every week, but the older I got, the more I tried to watch it.

There are definitely interesting parallels in my life, in who I am.  And yet…there are definite differences.  I love reading and literature in general, as Picard did.  Yet I can’t stand Shakespeare.  I’ve been in several leadership roles throughout my career and I do well in them, but I am not the kind of leader who keeps myself removed, distant.  I don’t have or want children, but unlike Picard, I love kids and am great with them!

I also often wonder if I’ll end up perpetually single as he was, as I continue struggle to find someone to complement my life.  But I never had a wild-streak when I was a teenager.

Image Source - memory-alpha.wikia.com
Image Source – memory-alpha.wikia.com

I’ll also never forget how Picard always stood up for the rights of others, the freedoms of others.  The best example I always think of was when Data’s rights as a sentient, self-determining individual were put into question, and Picard defended those rights with such incredible passion!  The same for when a half-human, half-Romulan crew member was accused of espionage.

Plus there is Picard’s love of art, music, literature, archeology, history…  The intrinsic importance of each of these in every person’s life has stayed with me, and I wonder just how much my appreciation for them stems from seeing the importance he placed on them.

That isn’t to say I’ve tried to emulate him.  I never have, I could never be that kind of person.  But I really don’t believe it is a coincidence that many of what I consider to be the best parts of who I am bear similarities :)

The Responsibility of Writers – Characters to Look Up To

Seeing this in my own life, as well as in the life of many others, I’ve come to realize what this means for me as a writer, and perhaps what other writers should always keep in the back of their minds (in my humble opinion, any way :) )

Image Source - imdb.com
Image Source – imdb.com

Fiction holds an incredible power in the minds and hearts of humanity, especially young people.  And they are looking for good role models to look up to.  Just look at the insane popularity of the Marvel franchise.  (Granted that’s also because us adults who grew up with the comics are loving it :D  heheh.)

And for each writer out there, whether a novel writer or a script writer, we have the power to influence the minds of many.  For some, our exposure to the world is limited (at least, right now.)  But at any moment, that novel or short story or screenplay you wrote could explode in popularity, and all of the characters could become a part of our very culture.

So please, be careful.  You never know the impact your protagonist could have on an individual’s life.

Not to say we don’t want to put flaws in our characters.  We all have flaws, ALL of us.  And a flawless character is boring to write and read.  But how you present that flaw, how the character deals with it, the impact it has on the world and the characters around them…that makes all the difference.

Thanks for reading!  :)
-Jon Wasik