I am Captain Kirk
Writing by the Seat of your Pants
I am Captain Kirk. As much as I was Captain Picard on my way to work last week, when It comes to writing, my style is much more Kirk than Picard. Let me see if I can explain a little better.
Kirk and Picard are two very different commanders of the same ship. They both made a name for themselves and for their ships, but for very different reasons. In a lot of ways it is almost like a Dr Jeckle and Mr Hyde kind of thing, without the homicidal tendencies.
Captain Picard is a thinker, he reasons problems out. He works with alien races to make peace, he is the Federation’s number on diplomat. Kirk on the other hand relies heavily on others to play those roles. Placed in nearly Identical situations they work out the problem very differently. I am thinking specifically of Darmok and Arena. While these two were not entirely the same, the situation is similar.
Kirk tends to be the fly by the seat of your pants kind of guy. While Kirk can make plans as can be seen in The Enterprise Incident, he seems to work best when those plans fall apart and he has to improvise like in Devil in the Dark or The Corbomite Maneuver. This is probably why so many Star Trek fans have a favorite captain and tend to stand behind him through think or thin.
My writing style is very much Captain Kirk. When I sit down to write, I usually have an idea of where I want to go with the story, a basic plan, but when it comes right down to the writing that plan very often quickly falls apart and I have to improvise. Much like Kirk, the action moves fast and I have to stay on my toes. Many of the details of what is happening in the story are left for the after action report, or as they call it in the writing world the “E” word (editing.)
This style of writing, or so I am told, is called discovery writing. It tends to be very free form, and some times requires a lot of editing when the first draft is finished. I can imagine Kirk’s reports had many drafts before the facts fell out the way he wanted them. I would imagine this type of writing would be very difficult for people who like to make lots of plans outlines and research before they get started. That is not me.
Imagine Captain Kirk trying to interact with the crew of the Enterprise D or E, they would all head off to the conference room to discuss a plan, while he sat in his chair telling Ensign Ro to punch up the Phasers and keep the warp engines warm in case this didn’t work. It can be very much the same thing for a discovery writer trying to work from outlines.
Jeff Hite is primarily a Husband and father, during the day he works as an IT professional, and in his spare time when he is not spending way too much time watching and teaching his kids to love Star Trek, he is the managing editor of Pirate’s Cove.
I special thanks to Memory Alpha and sfdebris for helping me keep my facts straight and in depth analyses of the characters.