Topic: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

Since many of us here are writers whether we admit it or not (Temporal Flux, I mean YOU), I thought we might have a thread devoted to the writer's craft.

How did you guys get into writing? I got into it because Sliders killed my father. ("Dude -- your father's not dead. And Professor Arturo is not your dad!") Yeah, I said what I said.

I kept wanting to write stories to fix things. But I couldn't seem to get it together in those early days. I kept writing lengthy stories where Quinn meets some cosmic entity who offers to save all the sliders in exchange for a long and exhausting mission across Sliders continuity and would get stalled. By the time it dawned on me that the best thing to do was have the sliders already alive and well by the third page, 15 years had passed.

So, it would be more accurate to say that Sliders got me into and out of writing. So the second time I got into writing was primarily to meet girls. I was an extremely shy person and it occurred to me in college that I could talk to women under the pretense of doing interviews for the school newspaper and I got lots of dates this way. By the time I realized that I was more interested in friends than girlfriends, 12 years had passed. I still use this method to approach women platonically, though.

Anyway. I would like to recommend this podcast on writing, At the Writer's Table where each installment has a novelist, screenwriter, editor, agent, publisher, etc., interviewed about their profession and philosophies. The most important takeaway I've had so far from this podcast is to always work writing into your day. If you have a day job, bang out a few paragraphs over lunch and it'll be so much easier to churn out chapters on the weekends. http://philgiangrandeproductions.com/phils-podcast/

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

Good post.
My route was not so dramatic. I was doing some cartooning back in the Nineties and took a novel writing class to help with my storytelling. I was writing an action novel and the instructor liked my action narratives and suggested I try screenplays.

Which brings me to where I am today.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

I don't even have a story. I've just always been a writer. I remember writing a story and having my brother illustrate it when I was in kindergarten. smile

When I was a teenager, I tried to submit scripts and story ideas to Star Trek, but they were never purchased (Voyager would have been so much better if they had hired me!).

I've always wanted to write film and television, but it is such an impossible industry to break into. I finally realized that I can write a book and put my stories out there for people to see, and it won't take someone investing millions of dollars, and hundreds of crew members to get some version of that done... and it would be my vision, not someone else's! So I do books now, but I'm still interested in film and television. The timing has just never been right for that. If some of my books read like outlines for seasons of a TV series, now you know why.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

On pastiches:

Most of what I've written has been a pastiche of other writer's styles and other actor's performances. I get a lot of nice remarks and a number of criticisms. Transmodiar calls my depiction of Arturo "overwrought and overwritten" and Slider_Quinn21 concurred. I ended up toning it down a bit in the final edits for SLIDERS REBORN.

But I find that when you are trying to convert an onscreen performance to prose and extrapolate, it's necessary to exaggerate it slightly. You don't actually have the actor to sell the subtle nuances of their delivery, so you have to heighten their performance in the descriptions so that it comes across properly.

I think I've generally done a good job; Wade is piercingly direct yet caring, Rembrandt is casual and reacts to everything like a normal person but with Cleavant's humour, the Professor is like a dysfunctional Professor Dumbledore and Quinn is earnest and filled with moral conviction. However, there were times when not having the actors really became a problem.

The one scene in SLIDERS REBORN that I think suffers most from Jerry O'Connell's absence is the Quinn versus Quinn-2 confrontation in the last script. Ideally, Quinn would have exhibited the burning, cold, reserved yet outraged contempt that Jerry performed so well in Seasons 1 - 2 with John's guidance, especially in "Luck of the Draw" and "Time Again and World." I wrote the dialogue in that low-key fashion -- and then I found it just didn't come alive; I didn't feel the anger and rage in the scene.

So I exaggerated it more than I think Jerry would actually perform it. Quinn shouts and yells instead of speaking in Jerry's subtly furious intensity. Instead of stiffening with clenched fists, Quinn picks up a laptop and throws it into a wall and smashes clocks on the floor and says outright to his enemy that he is going to kill him. It works on paper -- I don't see it being scripted this way for an actual performance where Jerry's acting would convey all that much more effectively without the histrionics.

I wonder if spec script writers penning submissions for TV shows that already exist have these issues and how they address them.

My niece once told me that the way I view fanfic is completely unlike most fanfic writers. "I write SUPERNATURAL fanfic as erotica for Dean and Castiel," she explained to me, "whereas you write SLIDERS fanfic like you're writing a licensed media tie in product that publicly represents the franchise and I guess you do that because nobody actually watches your show or writes fan fiction for it anymore and you're capitalizing on being the only game in town."

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

My niece and I were recently having a conversation. She told me that she's in the process of separating her online handle from her real name because, as a film student hoping to enter the industry, she doesn't want her real name to show up in association with her fan fiction. "Are you ashamed of your writing?" I asked her. "I mean, your descriptions could use some work, but the stories are solid like Dean and Cas being ice skaters."

"I just don't want that stuff to represent me," she said in a slightly evasive fashion. So I turned it around, asking her: should I be worried that my name is on my SLIDERS REBORN scripts? She replied that I wasn't looking to get into the film industry and even if I were, those scripts wouldn't be a problem because SLIDERS REBORN actually looks like scripts. They were written in screenwriting software. "Also, I've looked through your stuff and there isn't anything to be embarrassed about. I mean, you basically wrote STAR TREK novels. They're media tie-ins. If there were SLIDERS novels, you could probably have sold them."

"So what you're saying," I said cautiously, "is that your writing is embarrassing in a professional context because it delves into your fetishes and your desire to see two attractive men kissing and having sex whereas my writing is acceptable because it's an attempt to meet the professional format and falls within the content restrictions and also because my material isn't particularly romantic and not at all sexual."

"Yes," she said.

Hunnh. I have to say, it really bothers me that she doesn't feel comfortable putting her name on her writing, but there is that old saying that autobiographies can lie but fiction reveals all. I, personally, am very proud of what my fanfic says about me and it's a significantly more flattering image than the flawed reality of the actual me.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

Your niece has a valid point. While fan fiction can be a valuable learning tool, it is not professional writing (especially when such stories don't fit with the reality of the series, and most fanfic doesn't) and doesn't help a writer's career much. A writer can build a career in spite of fanfic, if it is good fanfic, but it's more the exception than the rule. You also don't want to look like you're trying to profit off of copyrighted material.

I don't really hide my fanfic past, but I also don't really associate it with my professional writing work. For that matter, I connect my author name with my face and real/acting name as little as possible, because I don't want to have some of those conversations on set. I like to keep my world's separate. Your niece is building a brand, and trying to control the image of that brand is smart.


Side note: If the word "fetish" ever comes up in a conversation with my niece, I'm bleaching my brain.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

I've been thinking about co-writers lately. I think I may be the sort of writer who can't function without one. I remember gravitating to Matt as my co-writer initially for SLIDERS REBORN because he'd asked me to write six reviews of six Season 5 episodes for EarthPrime.com. I wrote a review of "Please Press One" which was an incoherent rant about SLIDERS in Season 5 and Matt informed me he would need to rewrite it heavily to make it match the writing style of EP.COM. Matt and Mike Truman shared some of their reviews and I proceeded to write reviews of "A Current Affair," "The Java Jive," "The Return of Maggie Beckett," in a closer approximation of their style and then I went back and re-did the "Please Press One" review.

And then Matt lightly edited my reviews but did something that seemed to make him unusually nervous as he kept asking me over and over again if it concerned me -- he added jokes to the reviews. He added a wisecrack for "Please Press One" about how the sliders had successfully created a few odd jobs for some general contractors at Data Universal by blowing up a few walls. He added a longing remark to "A Current Affair" that a few revisions would have made a good episode great, even first season great. My latter reviews had tapped into EP.COM's sardonic voice, but Matt added some beautiful notes about how Diana had a mind-expanding, life-altering experience in "Map of the Mind" that she'd totally forget about.

I loved his additions. I wanted Matt to rewrite everything of mine for the rest of my life. Which led to me asking Matt to do the same for my SLIDERS REBORN outlines, an experience that I'm sure took years off his life.

I think the defining moment of our collaboration on SLIDERS REBORN was when Matt reviewed the novella, a story in which Mrs. Mallory is buying lemon bars at her favourite bakery when she is approached by a stranger. This man she doesn't know tells her the story of five seasons of sliding and how all the odd events of Seasons 3 - 5 were due to a cataclysmic multiversal event, and he's fixed it by erasing himself from reality and he now only exists as a paradox. The multiverse is stabilizing, and this remnant can only choose one person to remember him. He chooses Mrs. Mallory. She recognizes Quinn as her son and embraces him.

Matt gently pointed out all the problems here. The story took him about half an hour to read, which meant it would be at least an hour and a half to listen to. Why would Mrs. Mallory tolerate 90 minutes of a crazy person telling her an insane story? The means by which Quinn rebuilt reality made no sense whatsoever. The multiple reality warping machines involved seemed to have arbitrary and contradictory purposes. Matt asked to be let off this project and I agreed... but I also agreed with all of his criticisms and rewrote the draft.

The story was the same, but instead of Quinn talking to Mrs. Mallory, it was now Quinn in a mental ward telling his story to a doubtful psychiatrist who would raise all of the plotholes in Quinn's story in dialogue that I copied verbatim from Matt's emails. This forced Quinn (and me) to explain the plotholes and offer a rationale and led to a plot twist at the end that surprised me but which the subsequent readers seemed to like. Matt's criticisms were exactly what I needed. I would later ask Nigel Mitchell to help me with world-building, but I constantly returned to Matt for criticisms that I personally found very constructive.

"I have no time to revise a piece of non-canon fanfic and Wade Welles is dead, god damn it!" he would exclaim, but then proceed to grimly chat with me about SLIDERS REBORN and express exasperation, disbelief and frustration towards plot points I would immediately rewrite while reminding him that in SLIDERS, all fan fiction is canon and that "Requiem" point-blank established that Wade was still alive.

The fifth SLIDERS REBORN script was edited by nobody as Nigel felt he'd given me what he could by that point and it is the worst installment of all of them. The sixth script, I felt, was the best one as it benefited from Matt's spirit of oversight, Nigel's imagination for world-building and also Slider_Quinn21 who reviewed each page of script. Slider_Quinn21 noted when jokes didn't land and also reminded me to do things like explain how the Season 3 monsters could exist to descend upon San Francisco and that the sliders couldn't use road salt to fight the giant slug from "Paradise Lost" as no store in the Bay Area would carry it.

I have serious doubts that my writing is fit for human consumption without collaborators. I think I'm a bit like George Lucas: the first STAR WARS film had the benefit of consultation from Lucas' friends Spielberg and Ford Coppola as well as an uncredited dialogue rewrite from Willard and Gloria Hyuck. The prequels were Lucas writing mostly alone and it shows in some of the most incomprehensible, unsayable dialogue ever performed on the silver screen. "Are you sure we shouldn't be screenwriting partners?" I asked Matt awhile ago. "Quite sure," he assured me. "And you say that like we haven't already; the amount of time I put into SLIDERS REBORN was INSANE." And, not wanting to deprive his children of their father, I agreed.

I think I need a collaborator. I'm not quite sure what I would actually need from this collaborator, however. Matt pointed out logical errors and, in his way, would prod me towards my own solutions. Nigel had this Douglas Adams type of daring inventiveness. Slider_Quinn21 understood how to make a story readable and understandable. I told this to Matt once and he remarked that it was nice to hear that he was 33 per cent of a man. These three people could not have been more different, and the only reason they consented to endure my neediness and absurdities is because they loved SLIDERS too.

I wonder if the key might be for us to all become our own co-writers. Maybe it's up to me to do what Matt, Nigel and Slider_Quinn21 did for me but on my own.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

Every writer needs editors and beta readers to provide feedback. You can't do that part yourself, which makes it really hard sometimes, when people aren't available. That said you do need to make sure that the finished product is still yours. If you accept too many suggestions and make too many changes, you really do have co-writers more than beta readers.


It's a fine line. Just make sure that your story has its own voice, whether you have a co-writer or not.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

I definitely think SLIDERS REBORN is ultimately mine. MATT HUTAFF's SLIDERS REBORN and NIGEL MITCHELL's SLIDERS REBORN would've been very different.

**
The George Lucas collaboration with his friends Spielberg, Coppola, the Hyucks and his wife is fascinating to me because you can compare those results to Lucas working alone. Another fascinating but never quite documented collaboration: William Shatner's STAR TREK novels in which he wrote plot outlines featuring Captain Kirk in the 24th century, co-writers and veteran TREK novelists Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens would write the prose, and then Shatner would revise the draft and rewrite all of Kirk's dialogue.

The combination was beautiful: you had a husband-wife team with an encyclopedic knowledge of TREK and an obsessive love for all the shows and movies and the ability to write vivid pastiches of every character. And then you had the lead actor himself presenting a prose version of his own performance and working with two brilliant SF writers to bring his scenes and concepts to life.

The prose read entirely like the Reeves-Stevens' previous TREK novels, but they were keen in interviews to declare that these Kirk books were not stories they would or could write themselves. They also refused to reveal which ideas and words were theirs and which were Shatner's, saying all three had agreed on the ideas and words that were published regardless of who suggested them.

There were insights into Kirk that felt very much like they came from the actor who had played him for decades. Why was a maverick, rogue, rebellious personality like Kirk working for what was essentially the military?

How would Kirk feel about the corporate structure of the NEXT GEN ships? What would Kirk do if he were to retire happily? How would he deal with truly becoming a senior citizen? What would Kirk be like as a husband? As a parent? What would a Kirk-Picard friendship actually be like? The answers felt true. Shatner understood the lead character, the Reeves-Stevens team understood the vast universe around the character and the combination was everything Shatner's STAR TREK V wasn't.

**

MATT HUTAFF's SLIDERS REBORN would have been a reboot in which older versions of the sliders discover sliding at their present day ages instead of in 1994 with the explanation that in 2001, a restored Quinn had to "kill" sliding in order to end the Kromagg threat. I really like it as a reboot concept and found it hilarious that with the exception of matching previous continuity, it's the same concept Temporal Flux offered for a future reboot with the original actors. I find Matt doesn't think like a fan; he thinks like a TV producer, and this will serve him professionally but wasn't where I wanted to go for fan fiction.

Nigel felt my outlines were too dense and that the results would be unreadably long and he eventually disengaged from the material (while still continuing to review scripts). And this is because Nigel is a novelist. He is not a screenwriter.  He doesn't think in terms of film and TV being the edited highlights. Nigel thinks in prose. He didn't grasp why I was outlining events that would take place "off camera."

NIGEL MITCHELL's SLIDERS REBORN would have been a series of novels. And the final SLIDERS REBORN novel in Nigel series, I imagine, would have been more like an anthology in which each of the four characters gets a novella with their individual plot.

And Slider_Quinn21 -- I actually don't know what his SLIDERS REBORN would've been. Certainly, I appreciated his contributions. He spotted typos, he pointed areas where the exposition was confusing or absent, he noted when characters changed the topic of conversation without a transition. I think, because I was sending Slider_Quinn21 script pages instead of outlines, he was less inclined to change the story and more interested in making it as readable and understandable as possible.

Working on the first three scripts and the novella had been very taxing and draining and exhausting. Matt and Nigel made it manageable by helping me find solutions even if they likely never understood how much they helped as they probably only recall telling me something didn't work and why and offering me solutions they knew I didn't want. I think they didn't understand that identifying problems was extremely helpful even if I'd make my own solutions.

Nobody worked with me on the fifth script in which I wanted Quinn to meet Mallory. The convolutions to justify the tangled knots to bring Jerry O'Connell and Robert Floyd in the same room were absurd and I ended up rewatching "Obsession" and choosing a psychic from a single scene to be the antagonist of this script to rationalize an otherwise nonsensical plot. Tellingly, the fifth script is one where Mallory is really a hallucination and it's really a conversation between Quinn and himself, which is probably why it's the worst of the six.

Looking back, it may have been a missed opportunity. I probably should have asked Robert Floyd to work on it with me as it was interviewing him that made me write this fifth installment. Admittedly, I don't know what kind of cache that would have provided; the majority of the fans view Floyd as Jerry O'Connell's scab which I've always found unfair. It probably wouldn't be quite the same as, say, James Marsters and Juliet Landau writing comics featuring BUFFY and SPIKE.

That said, Floyd is quite present in all the REBORN scripts, not because of anything he contributed specifically to REBORN, but because REBORN is an attempt to pastiche Jerry O'Connell's voice and mannerisms just as Floyd sought to impersonate Jerry while making sure that copying someone else's voice and body language was just one aspect of playing a character, and the scripts are very informed by Floyd's choices.

Writing the first two scripts was fun and easy. Writing the third, fourth and fifth installments was all very tiring and I was ready for it to be over by 2016. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that working with Slider_Quinn21 was a joyfully effortless breeze, probably because Matt and Nigel's work on the outlines had smoothed out all the plot problems in advance and Slider_Quinn21 and I could relax and focus entirely on dialogue and 'acting.'

I feel Slider_Quinn21’s contributions to SLIDERS REBORN could potentially seem understated, but the sixth script is the best one. Part of that it’s because it featured the sum total of all our respective talents: Matt’s hyperrational sense of plot, Nigel’s imaginative world-building, my commitment to typing it all up in a script.

Without Matt and Nigel, there would have been no clear vision of REBORN, but I think the sixth one is the most enjoyable to read because Slider_Quinn21 has a very firm grasp of how readers engage with text and absorb information and process prose and dialogue gave the final script a crisp, direct quality that made all the crazy ideas fun to read. Slider_Quinn21 had this commitment to clear, understandable, simple, straightforward description while appreciating that it was a novel in screenplay format.

There was a lot of overly dense, confusing description in the second half of the script where the sliders confront all the Season 3 monsters and Slider_Quinn21 helped clarify a lot of it while also noting when the action had dragged on for so long he’d lost track of what was going on. And he had the patience to indicate readability issues on some of the earlier scripts which I went back and touched up. I suspect that I will never be as readable again as I was for that final script.

There was also this delightful moment where he pointed out to me that my Arturo dialogue had become extremely overwritten with me giving the Professor so many big words and such an overexaggerated accent that he’d become a caricature of a caricature.

I’d given myself a December 31 deadline to post that script, but SQ21’s editing led to me publishing it four days earlier.

Slider_Quinn21 expressed a desire to do more SLIDERS stories together after REBORN and I felt it was time to move on, possibly from writing SLIDERS, possibly from writing entirely. But it was truly a golden age and I always look back at that period fondly and with great warmth and appreciation for Matt, Nigel, Robert Floyd, Slider_Quinn21... and, oddly but appropriately, David Peckinpah.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

ireactions wrote:

And then Matt lightly edited my reviews but did something that seemed to make him unusually nervous as he kept asking me over and over again if it concerned me -- he added jokes to the reviews. He added a wisecrack for "Please Press One" about how the sliders had successfully created a few odd jobs for some general contractors at Data Universal by blowing up a few walls. He added a longing remark to "A Current Affair" that a few revisions would have made a good episode great, even first season great. My latter reviews had tapped into EP.COM's sardonic voice, but Matt added some beautiful notes about how Diana had a mind-expanding, life-altering experience in "Map of the Mind" that she'd totally forget about.

It's a mixture of considering the voice of the author and vestigial hatred for the people who edited what I wrote for the college paper. I'd get edits that would not trim for space, but for context and meaning. One piece had two words removed that completely changed the tenor of the piece. It was maddening. So when people ask me to review or edit their copy I want them to come away from the process with a positive feeling, not one of frustration.

ireactions wrote:

I wanted Matt to rewrite everything of mine for the rest of my life. Which led to me asking Matt to do the same for my SLIDERS REBORN outlines, an experience that I'm sure took years off his life.

No, your comments on all the stuff I had you read took years off my life, cupcake. wink

ireactions wrote:

I wonder if the key might be for us to all become our own co-writers. Maybe it's up to me to do what Matt, Nigel and Slider_Quinn21 did for me but on my own.

It always depends on what you're attempting to achieve. Is it a singular vision? Then write it for yourself and get good feedback. If you want to collaborate, make sure you've got a co-writer who shares your sensibilities. My writing with Mike Truman produces some really fun results; I certainly couldn't write how he does and vice versa. He's all dialog and I'm meticulous with my plotting. Ib can certainly attest to that.

Earth Prime | The Definitive Source for Sliders™

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

Hmmm, yes.

To switch gears — one of my favourite TV shows is ALIEN SURF GIRLS, a 26 episode Australian teen drama with a captivating concept. It’s about two aliens from a distant planet, Lumina, who are discorporate beings of energy and visit Earth for a school project in secret. They’re only coming to research the Earth’s electromagnetic and gravitational properties. Adopting human form as two teenaged girls, Zoe and Kiki pass through the small coastal town of Lightning Point. They see the beach, the crashing waves and stunning horizon and athletic exhillaration of surfing and they fall completely in love with water.

ALIEN SURF GIRLS is one of the worst television shows I’ve ever seen. The title is inane. The characterization is nonsensical with the scripts confused as to whether Zoe and Kiki are similar to humans or energy beings in human-shaped shells. The plot that gets them stranded on Earth involves a dog biting the card-shaped key to their spaceship. Each week, some random piece of technology (a microwave, a radio) causes Zoe or Kiki to lose human form which is played as some massive threat when it’s at times indicated to be their natural state. There is no conflict, no drama, no rising stakes, no explanation for why the girls are desperate to get home, no consequence if they remain on Earth — it’s terrible.

But... I just really like the concept of two scientifically minded aliens visiting Earth on a disinterested mission of dispassionate study only to see water and fall head over heels in love with surfing. An idea like that deserves a better story.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

Recently, someone said regarding the show CASTLE:

Transmodiar wrote:

... you don't have to watch past season one to know the show doesn't give two squirts about timing, pacing, or focus. It hopes you like Nathan Fillion or Stana Katic; everything else is incidental. If you keep watching, just skip over every scene with Castle's daughter or mother. With the exception of the contractually obligated A-story episode they get each season, they add literally nothing to the series. Nada. Bupkus. ZERO. And if you make it past the episode where the sidekicks get caught in a burning building, I'll buy you a soda. smile

A treasured writing mentor (no, not this one, it was Informant) pointed out to me that we're writers. We aren't gods. We might be creating a fictional reality and populating it with living beings, but we don't know everything, we don't understand everything, and we'll often have to accept that our creation is flawed because we don't have the information or time to define every corner of our world. We'll have to prioritize making specific elements of our work entertaining and plausible at the expense of some other area where we are less skilled.

Informant argued that these areas of low priority are not even necessarily flaws as much as areas outside the author's chosen focus.

Another beloved writing mentor (this one) once asked me a very incisive question. He asked me, "What are you trying to accomplish?" Was I trying to write an exploration of alternate paths that events might have taken? Was it a series of science fiction set pieces? Was it a deep dive into the minutia of a television show that most people had willfully blocked out of memory? Was it a drama surrounding a college reunion? And what was I doing to meet any of those goals? "What are you trying to accomplish?"

With that in mind, I'd say that if a TV show decides that its priority is giving its leads episode-long arguments and that's what it chooses to excel it at the expense of other priorities, then those non-priorities are not flaws. STAR TREK was not a plausible depiction of naval life; FRINGE wasn't a likely rendition of FBI task forces; LOST was not a realistic picture of survivalism and THE FLASH is not a serious presentation of forensic investigation.

They were trying to accomplish something else and we might be better off asking ourselves what the creators were trying to do, if they achieved it and then ask whether or not it was worth the attempt or if the goal was flawed. If CASTLE sets out to have Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic arguing and then it manages to fill seven years' worth of episodes with Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic arguing, then its failure to present other content is no failure at all.

On the other hand, if the eighth season features Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic only sharing the screen in two scenes per episode because the actors refuse to work together for more than two days a week, then it has absolutely failed.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

"Castle" failed (for many, many seasons?) because it very rarely hinged on its own premise. The conceit was a Patterson-esque crime novelist worms his way into working with real detectives as inspiration for a new protagonist. To do so, he has to juggle his life as a father, son, celebrity, and love interest for his new partner. The murder-of-the-week stuff should inform those relationships.

For the first season or two, it hewed closely to those tropes. But Castle's daughter was too evolved a character to be a 15-year-old girl; it was impossible to suspend disbelief. It's also the continuation of an exasperating trend in media to make dads just insufferable with their ignorance; I get that its comic to watch the kid parent the parent at times, but Castle himself dotes all over his daughter. He's not an absentee by any stretch (I think the mom left early on? Been a while.).

Then you throw in the weird subplots with the precinct captain, the bro-tastic adventures of the two junior detectives on the squad, and other nonsense and it just becomes hyperbolic. It's even worse when the show's tone veers off course and tries to do edgy, dark topics like the serial killer and who killed Stana Katic's mom. You see the same thing in the recent "iZombie," which went FAR up its own ass in the last couple of seasons. Just keep it light-hearted, let the leads have will-they, won't-they? chemistry, and keep in mind that the whole reason Castle is there is to grind out storylines for his books. That's what they were trying to accomplish. And they dropped the ball, and it got agonizing.

Earth Prime | The Definitive Source for Sliders™

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

I am only at the tail-end of Season 2, but I don't think CASTLE is really about an author trying to grind out storylines for his mystery novels. I think it is about Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic arguing. What they argue about is irrelevant. They could be arguing every week about how to run a restaurant or how to teach a high school class or how to fly a plane or how to manage a cruise ship or how to record a podcast about every episode of SLIDERS ever made.

Are there any shows that, by your standards, carried the ball throughout their run? I would feel obligated to watch one. (PleasenotanythinginvolvingNazisoranythingdepressingpleasepleasepleaseohthere'snohope.)

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

It's hard to thread the needle the longer you go. Characters get broader based on fan reaction and shows inevitably lean more on character interaction at the expense of concept, particularly if it's a high-concept show.

I really don't watch a lot of new television at the moment, but I would say one show that has unabashedly stuck to its premise for years and succeeded is "Curb Your Enthusiasm." It's a rich misanthrope getting into uncomfortable situations and acting like the asshole we all wish we could act like on occasion. You can start in season 1 or season 10 and get the same experience. Hell, if you just watch the Jon Hamm episode from this latest season with no primer whatsoever, it'll be as weird and funny to the neophyte as it would be to the die hard fan.

"The Wire" is also one that does a good job remaining consistently excellent year over year, with the right tone. You should watch it just because it's great, although I'm far from the first person to recommend it.

Earth Prime | The Definitive Source for Sliders™

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

I liked CASTLE until about the middle of Season 4 -- at which point Castle and Kate's continued reluctance to act on their interest in each other became incredibly tedious. But the zombie episode was hilarious, an episode where Castle insists for almost the entire episode that a zombie apocalypse has been unleashed due to a zombie attacking a murder victim on a security tape and culminates in Castle and Kate surrounded by a hoard of zombies who turn out to be cosplayers engaged in a Zombie Walk event. And the finale finally opened up the Castle/Kate arc to romance and Season 5 has been a wonderful resurgence of the chemistry as Castle and Kate now have 1,000,000 new things to argue about endlessly even though they're now an item. Amazing episodes this year include the spoof of "The Ring," the spoof of "Rear Window" and the budget saving clip show where Castle and Kate argue about every argument they've ever had in the past five years while standing above a literal ticking time bomb.

I'm not saying CASTLE is the greatest show ever made, but it's made with great love and passion for its characters, at least as far as Season 5. Season 4 was a bit too long, however, and dragged out the distance between Castle and Kate for an entire year when it probably should have been resolved by the middle of the year.

I would never call CASTLE excellent, but it is very competent within its low hanging target and it consistently hits that target.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

I’m at the CASTLE episode where Esposito and Ryan are in a burning building!!! Eeeeeeek!!!

I love the characters in this show.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

ireactions wrote:

I’m at the CASTLE episode where Esposito and Ryan are in a burning building!!! Eeeeeeek!!!

I love the characters in this show.

Congrats - if you make it past that POS you've officially outlasted me. Talk about a tortured and ham-fisted plot.

Earth Prime | The Definitive Source for Sliders™

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

It's not my favourite episode. It didn't have enough of Kate and Castle arguing. But over six seasons, CASTLE's cast had endeared themselves to me. Esposito and Ryan feel so familiar and I was worried to see them surrounded by flames and running out of air. Esposito's showboating every time he has an audience is hilarious. Kevin Ryan modelling his hair and clothes on Castle is really funny.

I can't remember the plot of this episode in the slightest or who the villain was, but I was happy to see my buddies running around bickering, chattering, fighting crime and not beating up every civilian of colour in sight like actual New York City police officers.

I guess you would say that I am easily satisfied, but I've skimmed studies that say that people who watch television often experience the same neurological activity that the brain manifests when the person is spending time with friends.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

I finished CASTLE, sort of. Amazon Prime only has seven of the eight seasons. But the seventh season finale ends with Castle solving the first murder mystery he ever encountered and a scene where all the cast members are assembled at a writers' awards ceremony as Castle gives a speech about how much all his co-stars mean to him and it concludes with everyone running off to deal with a new murder which, to me, seems like a pretty definitive ending.

I think what I like most about CASTLE is something very much like SLIDERS. Castle addresses every case like it's a story, but he's not sure what kind of story it is, what genre it's set in and what the formula is for each one. It's an absurd approach to crime solving that only works for him. Sometimes that genre is the soap opera or the conspiracy thriller or the espionage drama or the space opera or the heist. One standout episode is "Undead Again" where a murder suspect is caught on security video. The suspect looks like a decaying corpse. "It's a zombie!" Castle exclaims gleefully. "Our killer's a zombie!"

As Detective Beckett tries to track down the perpetrator and refuses to even consider the notion of zombies, Castle declares that the zombie apocalypse is upon them as they encounter witnesses who have been scratched by the suspect and keeping themselves locked up. Castle and Beckett follow the evidence to a lonely New York City street at night only to find themselves surrounded by a crowd of moaning, malicious corpses closing in on them and growling with a fervent hunger for their flesh and the viewer will note that CASTLE has never explicitly ruled out the supernatural in its show.

Castle is terrified. Beckett snaps at the crowd, "NYPD! Stop acting like zombies!" The crowd stops; they are cosplayers engaged in a roleplaying game. The killer is revealed to have been a cosplayer. Another police officer later whispers to Castle, "Do you really believe in zombies?" Castle whispers back, "No. You know what I do believe in? Driving Beckett crazy."

That's something I've always really enjoyed about the best SLIDERS episodes and Steven Moffat's DOCTOR WHO and CASTLE too, even though they're totally different shows. They often leave the audience unsure as to what kind of story they're watching and don't resolve that until the middle.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

I got an email recently asking if I collaborated with Tracy Torme when writing the "Slide Effects" screenplay based on his story idea.
https://earthprime.com/etcetera/slide-effects-2 The short answer is no and putting Tracy Torme on the title page is somewhat deceptive. (My email writer can stop reading now. Haha!)

Torme told me his story idea in 2000 and I dismissed it until 2011 when I wrote it. In addition, the script as it stands is severely contradictory to his wishes and style. It is not the script Torme would have written nor does it achieve the goals he would have wanted to accomplish with his concept. But it's his idea; while I have some gifts for writing stories about *the* sliders, I simply don't have the talent of coming up with Torme's simple, straightforward, elegant, beautiful means of restoring Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo in his hypothetical Season 4 premiere.

Having Quinn wake up to find that time has been rewound to the Pilot is the perfect way to open a new season of SLIDERS where a lot of confusing events have taken place in the previous season(s). Finding Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo alive and well in this scenario is ideal. Revealing that the situation is a Kromagg trick along with all the episodes produced during Torme's absence from the show is very clever and a little mischievous.

The thing about "Slide Effects" as Torme conceived it: he came up with the idea before the cast was mutilated, so he wasn't trying to come up with a story to fix everything that went wrong. He just wanted a season premiere that would re-establish the characters and the concept; he didn't imagine this premiere coming after all the characters and the concept had been warped and twisted and broken. And had he actually produced it, it's unlikely Torme would have consented to watch the episodes he'd missed, so there would have been no specific references to the episodes he was removing from continuity.

The "Slide Effects" script has 'clips' from episodes of Seasons 3 - 5 with the sliders of Season 2 reacting to them. There's a specific explanation for the continuity gaffes. There's an explanation for Quinn's odd behaviour in "Mother and Child." It's very clearly a psychodrama produced by an upset fan demanding an in-universe explanation for real world negligence, and I simply don't see Torme (or any professional TV producer) making television that exists to comment on other television so specifically.

I think Torme would have, instead, focused on the characterization: what if Quinn is tempted to stay in this perfect simulation of home and to let his friends have the illusion of having never been away? What if the Kromaggs offer Quinn this conclusion to the sliders' journey instead of whatever horrors may await them -- in exchange for some aspect of the sliding equation that will further empower the Dynasty? And what if Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo refuse, saying that while they miss home, sliding has made them stronger, smarter, kinder, better -- and they wouldn't trade their friendships and adventures for a facsimile?

Also, the "Slide Effects" script ultimately declares that everything after "As Time Goes By" was part of the Kromagg simulation and that Quinn had the tracking device in his brain. This is fundamentally at odds with Torme's wishes; he would have rewound time to after "The Guardian" and he believed the tracking device was in Arturo, not Quinn. I decided to change that because I wanted the implant to be the reason why Quinn was experiencing Seasons 3 - 5 and because, if "Slide Effects" were the last SLIDERS story, the unfinished threads of Logan St. Clair and the Professor's illness would no longer be a factor.

It's not inaccurate to have Torme's name on "Slide Effects," but I do consider it a degree of false advertising because it suggests that Torme would have written or would approve of this version of his story. I did that because, in 1996, after Captain Kirk had been killed off, there was a STAR TREK novel called THE RETURN which resurrected the character. It would have been dismissed as a meaningless STAR TREK novel like the 40 - 50 published every year, but THE RETURN had significance because it was STAR TREK: THE RETURN BY WILLIAM SHATNER.

While STAR TREK novels are not canon, Shatner's name gave THE RETURN weight even though in reality, the novel was written by veteran TREK novelists Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens based on phone calls with Shatner who would read the manuscript before it was published -- and I was unquestionably stealing that marketing by using a memory of an AOL Instant Messenger chat session with Torme, knowing that TRACY TORME'S SLIDE EFFECTS grabbed more attention than IREACTIONS' SLIDERS FANFIC.

I'm actually seeing a lot of this sort of crediting in post-"Slide Effects" spin-off media with other franchises. Two years after "Slide Effects," comic book publisher IDW announced THE X-FILES: SEASON 10, a comic book continuation with series creator Chris Carter's name on the covers, given top billing and suggesting that he was writing the comics. In reality, the comics were scripted by comic veteran Joe Harris and Carter would review the scripts at most. Carter vetoed one element of the comics -- the SEASON 10 villain was originally a teenaged William Mulder. Carter asked that the comics not use William and the writer complied.

Later, the FOX Network commissioned a tenth television season of THE X-FILES which flatly ignored the comic books and made it clear that the only 'canon' was on TV. IDW would relaunch THE X-FILES comics with the same writer, now doing standalone tie-ins to the TV SEASON 10 and continued to put Carter's name first on the cover -- but the SEASON 10 comics being ignored by the TV's tenth season made it clear that the name was meaningless marketing.

Carter's name on the X-FILES comics, like Torme's name on the "Slide Effects" script, certainly suggested some legitimacy to the material. The IDW comics publisher understood that fans would only engage with the content if it were presented as an actual, approved continuation to THE X-FILES.

I'm seeing a lot of that now even after THE X-FILES comics imploded. The BUFFY comics were steered by Joss Whedon working with writers from the TV show, but the finale series, BUFFY: THE RECKONING, was by Whedon's own admission largely written by Christos Gage with Whedon merely polishing the scripts after Gage was done.

A recent run of FIREFLY comic books boasted the WHEDON writing credit on the covers. The writer was Joss Whedon's brother, Zack, although Joss himself did review the material. Whedon's name is prominent on the subsequent comics written by Greg Pak and he is billed as overseeing the FIREFLY novels even though writers James Lovecraft and Tim Lebbon are the ones who really write them. The name sells the product. In some ways, the name is somewhat deceitful, but it's also part of the game. It's an invitation to let fans accept the tie-in as canonical while leaving their decision to their own discretion.

Anyway. In the next few days, I am going to revise the "Slide Effects" title page to make it clear that this is not a script that Torme wrote or would write, but that the idea is his and his alone.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

My niece said that I could be a part of her social bubble after months of having lunch on opposite sides of her deck or porch. I brought over a raw chicken (which I'd seasoned) and some raw vegetables, planning to roast the chicken and grill the vegetables. Then I mentioned having found a cast iron frying pan in my storage space and how that was annoying because I'd recently bought a new cast iron frying pan. She asked if she could have the cast iron frying pan and I said that I would drive home to get it, but she would have to handle the cooking. I returned a half-hour later to find that my plans for a roast chicken and a side of grilled vegetables had been converted into a chicken and vegetable stir fry with peanut and soy sauce.

I've never written teleplays for a TV show, but I'm told that this is exactly what it's like to write for TV.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl … laved.html

Cracka, imagine Sliders writers ever tried this?????

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

Torme had an idea for an episode where the teaser shows the sliders emerging from the vortex to find a Ku Klux Klan ceremony of white hooded figures. Rembrandt steps backwards to hide. Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo are confronted by a Klansman who rips off the hood to reveal a black man underneath.

I don't know if that could work. Part of the problem was the FOX Network. They were resistant to having Wade kiss Wilkins (the black leader of the Revolution in the Pilot), saying it could offend racists. They were either racist themselves or unwilling to court the wrath of racists.

The other issue is one of imagery and this is something mass media writers struggle with. Often, a story demands onscreen actions that are ill-advised for publication or broadcast whether it's showing black men as dangerous across the board in a parallel universe where blacks were put in a position of white supremacy or other content. It's possible Torme had a more "Weaker Sex" style approach where whites are regarded as prone to violence, intellectually inferior and treated as criminals on sight just as "Weaker Sex" presented men as overemotional, flighty, distractable, and treated as servants and status symbols. But opening with a KKK gathering suggests that it is a story of violence and while Torme would often wrongfoot and misdirect and did not care for SLIDERS stories driven by action, the risk is there.

SUPERNATURAL, in the confrontation with the Men of Letters, had Sam Winchester holding Hess, the female leader at gunpoint. But SUPERNATURAL didn't want to show Sam shooting a woman to death even if she'd killed many of his friends and brainwashed his mother and even though Sam would be fully justified in executing a woman who'd declared bloody war on him and his and who would inevitably escape and come after him again. SUPERNATURAL had Hess pull a gun on Sam before Sam shot her; they didn't want the image of Sam killing an unarmed woman onscreen.

SUPERNATURAL also had an episode where Dean and Jack are hunting down Harper, a lady serial killer who lures potential boyfriends and then has her zombie paramour kill and eat them. In the final confrontation, Jack and Dean are dodging the zombie and have a clear shot on Harper but inexplicably fail to open fire -- partially because the writers hoped to bring Harper back for another run-in with Jack, but largely because Harper is a cute girl.

Ultimately, SUPERNATURAL doesn't want to create images of heroic men killing women. And I don't think SLIDERS wants to create images of black men being trounced by white heroes.

Torme's idea would have been very difficult to realize. That said, this is Torme. I'd like to see Temporal Flux take a crack at this story idea. I'm sure it would have been better than the extremely mediocre "California Reich."

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

Well the network would have been lambasted for trying to make sarcastic light of the situation.  I'm kind of surprised Torme would have gone that far, given he came from Star Trek where Roddenberry refused to paint humanity as racist in the "future," though he did so with other alien species.  It would've been tough, plus I'm not sure if the producers, director, or Cleavant himself would have been okay with that.  Let's not forget that you had a Sliders writing duo who weren't in fact pleased with Weaker Sex as it was, portraying women as characatured bad.  I think it's too extreme, because the real story is obviously, very bad, and by trying to swap it around, you are somewhat absolving reality.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

This is genius:

https://www.cbr.com/sci-fi-daryl-tv-ser … Ho0eEdEUGc

A half-hour comedy that picks up where Paramount’s 1985 D.A.R.Y.L. feature left off. What if a top-secret, 10-year-old human weapon grew up to be a 44-year-old guy just trying to keep up with a world that he was never designed for? And what if the story morphed from an ’80s sci-fi adventure movie about a child with a computer in his skull … into a single-camera comedy starring Tony Hale? The boy everyone wanted … has become the man no one needs … in the TV adaptation nobody asked for.

Re: The Writer's Room: Thoughts on imagination and creativity

Probably best fits in this thread, but here’s one of those ideas where you slap your forehead wondering why it hasn’t really been done often:

https://www.dcbservice.com/product/jul2 … e-annual-2

A police officer; a CSI; a detective and an investigative journalist in a locked room murder mystery.

Green Lantern; Flash; Batman; Superman.

The powers and gadgets to the side - just a story about who they are as people.