Tag Archives: Star Trek

The Return of Stargate and the Prequel Trend

Hi everyone!

If you haven’t heard yet, Stargate is finally making a comeback!  And I’m not talking about a reboot of the movie franchise, which has either been fully cancelled or at least postponed.  Rather, this is the next ‘chapter’ in the SG-1 Universe.

…Except, it isn’t.  Announced only a few days ago, it’s called Stargate Origins (click here to check the announcement on Gateworld.net.)  It takes place…sometime before SG-1, though we don’t know when yet.  And reportedly follows an adventure of young Catherine Langford as she defends Earth against an unimaginable darkness…  More on why this is a problem for me further down.

Sci-Fi and the Prequel Trend

Image Source – http://www.techtimes.com

Back in 1999, George Lucas released the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace.  At the time, I was extraordinarily excited about it, I’d always wanted to see those first three episodes, to see the origin story of Darth Vader, and, well, I was excited to see more Star Wars on screen.

What I didn’t know was the trend that it would begin…and that is a trend in Sci Fi that has endured for nearly 20 years.

Prequels.  Though I don’t believe Phantom Menace was the first ever prequel, it was the biggest hit I’m aware of.  Since then, here’s what we’ve seen…

  • Star Trek Enterprise (followed by the 2009 Star Trek reboot, and now Star Trek Discovery.
  • X-Men Origins and X-Men First Class
  • Prometheus (prequel to Alien)
  • The Thing
  • Caprica
  • Oz The Great and Powerful

And that’s just a small list of well-knowns.  Now with Stargate Origins coming out, I find myself crying out “NOOOOO!”  I for one have grown tired of prequels.  Especially in Sci-Fi universes that are supposed to be about exploration and moving forward (Star Trek and Stargate both being examples.)

But why?  Why is this continuing?  Especially…well, do an experiment with me.  Go to google.com and type in the search parameter “Why are prequels so popular?”  I know that Google can tailor search results based on past browsing habits, but for me, the first 10 results talk about why the Star Wars prequels are so hated.

So if the first major prequel of a franchise was so horrible, once again, I have to ask…why is this trend continuing??

Theories of the Trend

One of the most common opinions I get when I ask people this question is “Hollywood can’t come up with anymore original ideas.”  An interesting theory, but I wonder how true it actually is.

Image Source – http://www.irishnews.com

In fact, until recently, I didn’t really have a response except “maybe that’s true.”  Until…Bright.  The name of an upcoming, Netflix-produced movie, Bright is about modern-day Earth, with elves and orcs and faeries living side by side with us.  Will Smith’s character is a police officer partnered with what appears to be a young orc.  This is radically different from any major sci-fi/fantasy movie I’ve seen in recent years.

But it’s Netflix.  It’s not a major motion picture studio, it’s a relatively brand new production studio.  And I think this is a key point.  Netflix broke the mold with movie rentals, and now is breaking the mold by producing it’s own TV shows and, now, movies.  Like Amazon, Netflix seems to be all about trying new things, innovating, and moving its company in an unexpected direction.  And it’s succeeding at it.

Major motion picture studios, however…it’s like an unknown author sending a manuscript to an agent or publisher.  You’re a big, big risk.  They are highly reticent to invest time and money into you, no matter how good your product is.  So more likely than not, you’ll be rejected.

I think the same can be said about major motion picture studios and TV production studios.  They want to invest money into something that has a proven history of making money.  And even as reviled as the Star Wars prequels are, they made a ton of money.  So prequels make money.

This, I think, is why we keep getting prequels and, for that matter, sequels, rather than truly original content.

This is also why I am becoming a big proponent of Netflix, and of self-publishing.  It allows those with innovative or new ideas to get their ideas out there.  They may not always succeed, but at least they can try.

Parting Thoughts on Stargate Origins

Image Source – http://stargate.wikia.com

I’m really really sad about the direction they are taking to try to revive Stargate.  I really want more Stargate, but a prequel?  A prequel that, at least at first glance, blatantly ignores established timeline?  For those who aren’t as familiar with it, before the Stargate was opened by Daniel Jackson in the motion picture, the Stargate was only opened one other time after it was unburied in Giza, with disastrous results.  It was subsequently shut down for decades.

Yet this premise seems to indicate that Catherine travels through the Stargate, either before or after Ernest is stranded off-world, to confront some darkness that, apparently, SG-1 and the SGC are never made aware of.

In essence, it’s making the same mistake Star Trek and Star Wars made in their prequels: ignoring continuity.

Worse still, the series is being released as 10 episodes…each episode 10 minutes long.  I can’t imagine why anyone thought this was a good idea…but then again…I’m kind of eating my own words now.  I released 10 short stories which will later be compiled into an anthology (The Orc War Campaigns.)  So…maybe this is a result of the trend of online and subscription based TV shows?

Anyway, I hope I’m wrong about Origins, but I really think this effort is going to fall flat on its face, and Stargate will once again be thrown into proverbial mothballs.  :(

What are your thoughts about all of this?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

The Complexities of Writing a Series – Snowball Effect

Hi everyone!

While the Sword of Dragons is not the first series I have ever written, it is by far the biggest, and I’m only a few books into it!  And the further I go, the more I’m beginning to realize the daunting task ahead of me.

Image Source - https://www.pinterest.com/pin/442197257133712811/
Image Source – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/442197257133712811/

Whether or not anyone else has used it before, I call it the snowball effect.  With each and every new story, there’s more material built up, and therefore more material I have to be intimately familiar with to ensure continuity.  (Because I hate continuity errors…as much as I love Star Trek, it was pretty bad about that in later series.)

Now with three books (2 published, plus the Orc War Campaigns which is as big as a novel), working on book 3 has required me to go back often and reference notes, thoughts, and actual pages from previous stories to ensure I’m getting all of the characters, locations, and plots straight.

Image Source - https://magisterscorner.wordpress.com/tag/mass-effect/
Image Source – https://magisterscorner.wordpress.com/tag/mass-effect/

I’m beginning to understand why the creators of the Mass Effect series did not want to take the story beyond the 3rd game.  For me it’s just one continual story I have to keep track.  For Mass Effect, in each game, the player gets to make a multitude of decisions that affect not only the outcome of the current game, but the games to follow.  Keeping track of and including all possibilities into each game must have been crazy difficult!!  And as far as I could tell from playing the trilogy, they did a great job!

I’m curious to see what they do with the new game, Andromeda…how much of player decisions can show through into Andromeda?  Or can players even load in their Mass Effect 3 play through to affect it?  We’ll find out soon enough :)

Star Trek Dragon – My First Series

stdragonThe first time I wrote a continual story was my fan fiction, Star Trek Dragon.  Spread across 7 season, 66 episodes of which were a part of the main seasonal run, and 4 more that weren’t part of the episode numbering, it was a pretty big story.  I never brought them all together to get a word count, but I can imagine it’s pretty massive.

There were many instances, especially in season’s 6 and 7, where I took things I had written in the earlier seasons and made them vital to where the story and characters went.  It was fun!

Started while I was at the tail end of Jr. High and finished in College, it wasn’t the most popular fan fiction out there, but it was well received by those who did read it, and I did have a small fan following near the end.

The Sword of Dragons – So Much More Complicated

Cover by Christian Michael
Cover by Christian Michael

So knowing that I successfully wrote 7 seasons and only created a couple of plot holes and inconsistencies, why does The Sword of Dragons feel so much more difficult?

When thinking about this question this morning, the answer seemed rather obvious: in Star Trek Dragon, I had copious amounts of references to look back on, plus I knew the Star Trek universe better than any other.  It was pre-established. And fans are really good at documenting what has happened in it.

With the Sword of Dragons, it’s an entirely made up Universe, one which I’ve built from the ground up and continue to build.  There’s no fan wiki out there (if only I had the time to build one…)  And unfortunately, I don’t have a team of editors helping me with continuity.  It’s just little ‘ol me taking on an entire Universe…

I also wonder how much of the difficulty writing book 3 is stemming from my flare-up of ADHD, because it seems like it’s been harder than it should be.  In any case, I’ll continue to work my hardest to keep it all straight, and will depend on my awesome beta readers (Nick, Natalie, you both rock!) to help keep me on the straight and narrow :)

Final Thought – The Star Wars EU

Image Source - http://www.vg247.com/2014/05/02/we/
Image Source – http://www.vg247.com/2014/05/02/we/

I was just about to finish this blog when I realized something: I think I understand now why Disney decided to split apart the Star Wars Expanded Universe and the Cinematic Universe.  There are literally hundreds of Star Wars EU novels out there: keeping track of everything and getting the continuity right, all while trying to come up with an original story for the new movies, is beyond daunting…

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

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.

Image Source - http://direimpulse.deviantart.com/
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…

 

Taking It Personally – When Does Fiction Become Public Domain?

Hi everyone!

In about 24 hours, the movie millions have been waiting for, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released!  In and of itself, the release of a new Star Wars in theaters is exhilarating, and given that it is the continuation of the story from the Original Trilogy, nerds everywhere (myself included) are ecstatic!

More so because George Lucas has no involvement in its creation!  ….wait, that seriously excites everyone?  The very man who invented Star Wars.  Who created the characters that has inspired generations, and invented the concept of the Force.

obi-wan_kenobi-confused

But let’s face it, over the past 20 years, in the eyes of countless fans, Lucas has slowly dismantled Star Wars and turned it into something that old-school fans despise.  I’m not one of them, mind you – I don’t love the prequels, but I don’t hate them either.  And I actually like most (but not all) of the changes he made to the Special Editions of the Original Trilogy.

Never-the-less, the fire Lucas has received has been incredibly harsh, so much so that he has been quoted recently as avoiding the internet altogether in order to avoid reading the criticism against him.

Which brings me to the point of this article…

A New Era – Fans Taking It Personally

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about how Star Trek and Star Wars seem to build upon each other’s successes.  But they seem to be linked in another way as well – the fans react quite vehemently when something is entered into the fictional canon that they don’t like.

The Jar Jar of Star Trek? (Note: I actually like Neelix :) )
The Jar Jar of Star Trek? (Note: I actually like Neelix :) )

I still can recall discussions in fan forums back during the DS9 and especially during the Voyager and Enterprise era of Trek where fans were flat out blaming Brannon Braga for ‘destroying Trek and everything it stood for.’  They were taking it personally, and with each new series, the open hatred towards the producers grew worse.

The same thing has happened with Lucas…but it hasn’t stopped there.  No, not by a long shot.  In fact, if anything, this trend of being offended by aspects of their fandom that they don’t like has only grown worse.

Remember when Daniel Craig was announced as the new James Bond for Casino Royale?  Fan and media reactions were both very harsh.  Many people criticized him as being not handsome enough, not tall enough, and any number of other criticisms.  In fact there’s still a website online, http://www.danielcraigisnotbond.com dedicated to making sure everyone knows that Craig is not a suitable Bond.

roger-mooreIn reading up on this history recently, I learned that former Bond star, Roger Moore, had a few words to say about this.  While I cannot seem to find that article again, and so cannot directly quote Moore, I recall that he was surprised by the negative reaction to Craig.  He commented how 30 years ago, no one would have reacted to such a different direction for Bond, or any other franchise for that matter.

And then there’s Mass Effect 3.  The ending of this phenomenal trilogy of video games, with such an incredibly in-depth story and amazing characters, was considered to be one of the greatest let downs in the history of video games.

In fact, it was so bad that a law suit was filed against EA via the FTC, claiming that EA was guilty of false advertising.  Reactions were so bad that EA actually released a free DLC for Mass Effect 3 that revamped the ending, adding more choices, and created a somewhat better final experience for the game.

mass-effect-3-ending

Does Fiction Belong to the Fans?

From the looks of things (and based on fan reactions to The Hobbit movie trilogy) this trend is only growing.  So as a writer, this raises a very serious question: does fiction belong to the fans?  At what point does our creative work no longer belong to us?  Should I cater to the desires (or even demands) of fans for where I take my stories?

To my fellow writers out there, I’m willing to bet most of you are going to immediately say “No!!!  Never change your artistic direction to sate fans!  Nor should you do so for commercial reasons!”  I’ve heard this stance over and over throughout my entire life, especially in college, the domain of “Literary” fiction.

But you know what?  Fans matter.  Here, let me repeat that.

Fans Matters.

This has been my stance from day one of this blog, and goes back much, much further than that.  It has always been my greatest desire to connect to readers, to engage with them, to hear their thoughts and desires and opinions about my works.

Is this me selling out?  I don’t think so.  No matter what, my stories will always be the product of my creative vision.  But I also have an active and adaptive imagination.

I’ve also put this into practice.  My old fan fiction, Star Trek Dragon, is the perfect example.  I had this amazing idea to do a crossover between Star Trek and Star Wars.  The setting was perfect, because the USS Dragon was already lost in a galaxy ‘far, far away.’  And my idea was to make it a permanent crossover.

episode-28

It was not well received.  In fact, it is safe to say that the episode titles “A Long Time Ago” is the most disliked episode of STDragon.  So at the end of Season 3, I dropped that crossover…mostly.  And took STDragon in a very different direction from what I had originally planned.

 

And it turned out better.  So much better.

mitchell-sg1This is not to say writers should cater to every whim of the fans.  Do NOT try to please everyone, because that is impossible, and you’ll only drive yourself crazy.  And do not abandon your original creative endeavor.  The original story is still your creation.

All I am saying is don’t ignore them.  And what ever you do, do not ever think of your readers as simple-minded, as stupid, or as crazy.  The majority of readers are intelligent, sensitive individuals who enjoy quality entertainment (yes, I borrowed that quote from the 200th episode of Stargate SG-1.)

I’ve Digressed – Who Owns Fiction?

This is a question I asked my friend Wayne today.  Who owns fiction?  At what point does a fictional body become the domain of the public?

After discussing it with him and thinking further on it, I’ve come to the opinion that it is both, the moment it is released ‘into the wild.’  It is still the creator’s work, and they still will be the ones to guide it into the future.  But it also belongs to the public.  You’ve inspired them.  You’ve engaged their imagination, made them think.

And do not underestimate the impact you’ve had on readers.  If they react strongly to something you’ve written, it means you have succeeded in making them fall in love with your work.  That’s something amazing, and not to be ignored.

Not to mention, collaboration between creators and fans can result in an amazing product.  Look into Star Citizen for a perfect example :)

What do you all think?  This is a pretty heavy and hot topic, and I have no doubt that opinions will vary widely on it.  Please comment below!!  (But please keep it civil!)

Thanks for reading,
-Jon Wasik

Is History Repeating? Star Wars and Star Trek Together Again

Hi everyone!

A few days ago while at work, I overheard several coworkers discussing the upcoming Star Wars movie, as well as the events of the previous six movies.  And I thought to myself “I never thought to hear Star Wars talked so openly and frequently again!  This.  Is.  Awesome.”

A meme has started floating around the internet, with pictures of news articles about the new episodes of X-Files, the new Star Wars movies, and the recently announced Star Trek TV show.  The meme goes something like: “which nerd managed to find a genie’s lamp?”

mix-up

Wait, no, that’s not the one……  ;)

Any way, it got me to thinking about the history of two of those franchises, and how they seem to have been linked.  Star Trek and Star Wars.

Image Source - www.memory-alpha.wikia.com
Image Source – http://www.memory-alpha.wikia.com

In many ways, the revival of Star Trek that began with The Motion Picture owes its thanks to the release and insane popularity of Star Wars in 1977.  There’s a story, one that has been repeated in several interviews, in which Paramount Studios saw the success of Star Wars, and thought “What do we have that can compete with that?”  Other accounts say it wasn’t about rivalry, it was more “This has made the genre popular again, let’s build upon that opportunity!”

In either case, the release of The Motion Picture in 1979 was no coincidence.  And fandom saw a new surge in sci fi popularity that hasn’t quite died.

Unfortunately, despite that resurgence, both Star Trek and Star Wars eventually saw an apparent end.

Everything Has It’s Time, Right?

Image Source - blu-ray.com
Image Source – blu-ray.com

In 2005, just when it was finally starting to find its stride, Star Trek Enterprise went off the air.  For many fans, myself included, there was a genuine fear that this was the last time we would ever see Trek on TV.

Let’s face it, Star Trek had begun to lose its gusto.  Fans still loved Trek (myself included,) but many were very much disappointed in Enterprise, and ratings were crashing.

Everything has its time.  And with 5 series spread across 28 seasons (not counting the animated series) and ten movies, it seemed like Trek had reached its saturation.

What’s more, Star Wars Episode 3 came out the same year Enterprise ended, and Lucas promised no more new Star Wars.  Perhaps with good reason.  While the prequel trilogy had done well in sales, many fans despised the trilogy, and even today I have a difficult time finding anyone who enjoyed the new trilogy.

jarjar-fail

It seemed like the end of a mutually beneficial era.  The two franchises that seemed to build upon one another’s successes had come to an end at roughly the same time.

Here We Go Again!

Then something unexpected happened.  Star Trek made a come back!  With a new spirit, new actors, and a new timeline, the 2009 Star Trek reboot brought both old and new fans to the theaters, and once again, everyone was talking Star Trek!

Image Source - Amazon.com
Image Source – Amazon.com

In fact, I have this very distinct memory of seeing the new movie the first time with several friends, and at the very end, one of them leaned over and asked me, “Did we just witness the revival of Star Trek?  I think we did!”

It was an exciting time.  Star Trek was back!  Yes, there was no hint of a TV show coming, and we didn’t have Star Wars, but that was okay.  Some was better than none…

Image Source - starwars.com
Image Source – starwars.com

Or is it?  In 2012, the world was shocked to learn that Lucas was selling the rights for Star Wars to Disney.  And lo and behold, within days, Disney announced not just a new Star Wars movie, but 5 new movies!

Could this be real?

Yes…yes it is.  Both are coming back!!

Fast-forward to today, and what do we have?  A successful 2nd Trek movie, with a 3rd on the way, and previews of a new Star Wars movie that give many, myself included, great hopes for the Star Wars movies we’ve all only ever dreamed of.

To top it all off, Paramount has announced a NEW Star Trek television series is coming!

The Tapestry of the Stars

So what’s going on?  Are these two franchises somehow woven together in the tapestry of fandom?

Certainly they seem to be enjoying the very same fervent popularity they held for so long before their eventual apparent ‘demise’ in 2005.  And I really don’t think it is a coincidence that as one makes a come-back, so too does the other.  I think they build upon each others’ successes.

trekandwarsI will never argue over which is better.  I love both for the unique qualities they bring to such a diverse genre.  And just as Lucas and Roddenberry once shook hands and encouraged each other, I so hope that these two franchises continue to help prop each other up, so that we can enjoy another couple decades of amazing Science Fiction :)

(PS: Is anyone else out there hoping for Stargate to make a comeback?!)

oneil-wacko

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

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

A Powerful Beginning – The Sword of Dragons Web Series

Hi everyone!

I am so excited to announce that I’ve finally begun writing the new web series for The Sword of Dragons!  Yeah!  :D

Image Source - background-kid.com
Image Source – background-kid.com

I don’t have a GOOD title yet, but the working title is “The Orc Campaigns”.  But what I really love about this beginning is how much it surprised me, with how powerful it is.

Yes, me, the writer who was planning this story, was shocked by how I started it.  It happens.  I love it when a story I’m working on takes me in wonderful, unexpected directions :D

cardin2Although the key characters of TSOD (or should I write it out as TSoD?) are Cardin, Sira, Reis, and Dalin, I didn’t plan on focusing all of the new series on them, and so I actually start with a brand new character, one whom isn’t seen in books 1 or 2 (but I am definitely bringing him into later novels.)

And I’m about to introduce a second new character, one of those wrongly imprisoned by new laws set in place by Prince Beredis (for reference, see chapter 12 “Not Yet King” in The Sword of Dragons).  I think she’s going to be a fun character to write, too.  Don’t worry, more info on just who they are will be coming soon :)

The Importance of the Beginning

I don’t know about all of you, but for the most part, once I start reading a story, I have to finish it.  But only if I get past the very beginning.  That very beginning has to hook me somehow, whether through simple curiosity or by exciting my imagination.  One of my favorites:

“Man,” said Terl, “is an endangered species.” – Battlefield Earth

But the stories that really hook me at the beginning?  Those that create powerful emotional reactions in me.  Those that stir feelings – the stronger, the more likely it’ll hook me.

Image Source - www.stargate-sg1-solutions.com
Image Source – http://www.stargate-sg1-solutions.com

The beginning of the 2009 Star Trek movie, for instance, or Guardians of the Galaxy.  Well, Guardians did it in two ways, first with the emotional beginning, and then with the comical follow-on.  I LOVE stories that mix the two well (Stargate SG-1 anyone?  :) )

So I’m hoping the beginning of this new story will hook others in a similar way.  As the writer, it has me hooked, and that is just as important, if not more so.  I’ve noticed that stories I write only because I have to (IE: back when I was in college) were never very well written, because I didn’t care about them or the characters.  But when I am invested in the characters…I think that’s a recipe for magic :D

Your Turn!

When it comes to the beginning of a story, whether a novel, movie, TV show, video game, anime, what ever your choice, what are your favorite beginnings?  Please leave your favorites in the comments below!  :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik