I borrow from David Gerrold here - In "The Worlds of Star Trek" He describes it much better than I do.
I also Borrow from Ray Bradbury.
And of course Gene Roddenberry.
A story has:
- A problem
- A Protagonist
- An Antagonist
The starship and her crew are not Protagonists most of the time. Instead they function as a vehicle to carry the reader into the vicinity of a protagonist and his problem.
The Protagonist must be written in such a way so as we the readers care what happens to him.
The Problem must be written in such a way so that we see there is something worth caring about at stake, and that we fear that, should the problem go unresolved badness will result.
An Antagonist is not necessarily a bad guy, but rather someone who's goals conflict with those of the Protagonist and his starship friends. A well written antagonist may be someone who's goals and desires are also sympathetic to the reader.
Gene Roddenberry said "Every story starts with a need. The protagonists either really wants something to happen or he really wants something not to happen."
Ray Bradbury said: "A story is how the protagonist changes and therefore overcomes his problem."
David Gerrold said that the Starship Enterprise is a cosmic Mary Worth, forever flying through space and getting involved in other people's problems.
To me a false conflict is one that is insincere. One where I know going in you have no intention of following through on it.
- Star Trek V: Sybok takes over the Enterprise and seeks God, surprising everyone by finding him. In the climax, a being who can mentally influence people a galaxy away chases Captain Kirk across some rocks until the being is shot in the face by a Klingon Bird of Prey.
If the people who trapped this being there could build a trap to hold a YAGLA for the ages, why couldn't they build large blaster cannon?
- Star Trek VI: General Chang and a conspiracy of people in the Klingon and Federation High Command want to derail the peace process. Good conflict - Kirk isn't even sure which side he's on until he gets framed.
- Star Trek Generations: Solian Toran is going to murder a planet full of people to get what he wants. He does it, too. Picard and Kirk have to travel 20 minutes into the past to prevent him and unmurder all the folks.
BUT - these people are never shown. We wind up never knowing or giving a darn about them. This robs the folks of our sympathy. That weakens the conflict badly.
- Star Trek First Contact: The Borg Queen goes back into the past to murder Earth before it can become the center of the Federation.
Sure. That's going to stick.
A good conflict inside this movie is Picard. He is so driven by anger and resentment - he can't let go of the apple in the bottle. Picard learning to let this go is actually a Good Conflict.
But why Earth? I feel that this was an attempt to avoid the Problem in the movie above. No one knows or cares about Veridian III. So this movie it's Earth on the block. We know for a fact that they aren't going to blow up Earth. Seriously. However, this movie does make excellent protagonists in Zephram Cochrane and Lily Sloane. they are well written characters. We want them to survive and succeed. Cochrane, Geordie and Riker Launching in the Phoenix with the radio cranked is a Crowning Moment of Awesome in my book.
- Star Trek Insurrection - the Planet Baku is a happy little colony of pretty space hippies. They know the deal. They live there beccause they want to.
On the one hand, I liked this - it wasn't Earth. So they could blow it up and continue the franchise. The Lady playing Angi is yummy. I wanted to like these people. I wanted to empathize with Picard being torn between true love and the Enterprise. They were so-so on this one. Could have been written better.
the Villain, Rufao wants to suck all the life force and vital juices out of the planet and sell it as a cure all. Okay. then we find he's an exile from Hippie land and wants to destroy it out of resentment. Emmmm Okay.
At the last minutes when his super spaceballs suck-o-matic is about deploy, Picard beams aboard, and they fist it up, swashbuckling style.
this film was so busy hitting pre-ordained plot points like the gates in a slalom course that it all felt contrived to me. I couldn't buy all the way in, because they weren't telling Rufao's story. or Angi's Story.
- Star Trek Nemesis - Shinzon is literally the Anti-Picard. He's as mad as hell about it. He's going to destroy the Enterprise and then the Earth.
Except he doesn't follow through, because he can't. We know it and he seems to know it. So a story that could go places (Shinzon as a twisted Mirror of Picard could have gone anywhere.) wound up in space battles that. while swashbuckling and exciting, lacked punch beccause we knew they were phoning it in until the end.
Data's sacrifice to save Picard is wonderful - except they cut it off at the knees by introducing B4, an identical Android.
- Star Trek - Nero blew up Vulcan just to let us know he was serious. then he set course for Earth. the Swashbuckling was extra swashbuckly. But there was no there there. Nero was a cardboard cut out. His hatred and resentment were paint-by-numbers and really flat. No one in the film made a decision that was in doubt. So we learned little about these people and what they were made of.
I hope that in ST-OM I create conflicts that work better than that.
Jayphailey 09:46, January 22, 2010 (UTC)