Home > My Fiction, Star Trek > I’m too disorganized

I’m too disorganized

Since Star Trek DTI is such a blank slate of a concept, I’m seeing it as an opportunity to explore some ideas I haven’t had a chance to do anything with before.  For instance, there’s a certain established Trek species that I’ve long wanted to do some serious worldbuilding for.  They haven’t been featured much onscreen, and what little has been done with them in prose either plays up a certain attribute of their species to the point of caricature or avoids it to the point that they’re rendered generic.  And a lot of the behind-the-scenes worldbuilding that was developed for them has never really been built on in prose.  Now I finally have a chance to feature a major character of that species and get my ideas about them on paper.

One of those ideas I came up with was identifying their fictional home star with a real star.  The way I did this was, I think, rather obsessive but rather clever.  The book Star Trek Star Charts by Geoffrey Mandel, which is generally treated as authoritative by the novelists, includes that star but doesn’t identify it with a real star.  So what I did was to use the Celestia space simulator, which lets you see the known stars in 3D from any position in space, and find an angle that matched the positions of the major stars as featured in the STSC maps (i.e. which is more or less looking directly “down” on the plane of the galaxy).  Then I highlighted various stars which were roughly in the same position, as seen from that angle, as the fictional star in question was in STSC.  With them highlighted, I changed my angle to see where they were along the Z axis (the axis perpendicular to the galactic plane) and thus how far they were from Earth and other major stars.  Based on position, spectral type, and so on, I settled on one of them as the most reasonable candidate for this species’ home system.

And I wrote it down.

Somewhere.

The thing is, I did this sometime last year, as part of development for a pitch that didn’t go anywhere, or maybe for a subplot I considered while developing a novel but decided not to use.  When I decided to use this species for DTI, I opened the file containing that unused pitch and I found a reference to the species’ home star having periodic x-ray flares, a property of the real star I had picked for them.  That reminded me of the work I’d done to select that star.  But there was nothing in that proposal that named the star.  And when I looked through all my other possibly relevant notes files on my computer, I couldn’t find it anywhere.

So I thought maybe I’d done it as part of a technical discussion on the TrekBBS.  So I searched there for posts by “Christopher” that contained the name of the planet in question, and found nothing.

So I was stumped.  But I had a memory of writing something down somewhere.  Maybe it was on a piece of paper somewhere, but my desk, table, etc. are very cluttered and it’s hard to find any stray piece of paper.

Then I remembered this 8 1/2 x 11 spiral notebook I use for various things.  I looked through it, but there was nothing.  Finally I remembered my 3 x 5 notepads.  I have a couple of these which I’ve used alternately for various things, one of which was completely filled up a while ago.  I haven’t used them much lately, so I guess I kind of forgot about them.  Anyway, I spotted the filled-up one under the mess on my table, I looked through it, and after just a few pages I finally found what I’d written down about the star I’d chosen.  Yay!

This time, I hastened to transcribe the information from the notepad into my story notes file for DTI.  That way I won’t lose it again (unless something disastrous happens to both my laptop and my thumb drive).

It goes to show that a writer shouldn’t throw anything away.  You never know when an old idea or bit of research might come in handy.  But it also shows the importance of a decent filing system so you can find stuff again.  That’s the part I need to work on.

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  1. April 9, 2010 at 7:21 am

    I do this all the time, so annoying!!

  2. April 9, 2010 at 7:55 am

    one of the best filing methods that I’ve personally used is the a time based one, in which you literally just put thing in a file folder/box and make sure you’re filing things based on when you last used them. for my desk, the first paper in the file was the first one in there, so I know every 6 months or so to go through the folder and move a good portion of it to a deep storage box.

    why this works for me? perhaps because I always assign multiple categories to each document,(so category filing would be crazy), and because I work better in remembering when it was that I last touched the document. Also, this is the lazy man’s filing method, though it does have an official sounding name that escapes both my memory and my googlefu at the moment.

  3. Arthropod of the psychologically unstable variety
    April 10, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Is it the Deltans? You’ve mentioned your interest in them before, and they seem to fit.

    • April 10, 2010 at 9:27 pm

      That was my hunch, too, based on the description given in this entry.

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