Even if you actually clicked onto this article you may be thinking that this isn’t going to be that interesting a section, but if you wanted to know a little behind the scenes as to the purpose of logs or how to actually translate a stardate, you just might be interested.
As I expected this will be a short one and as I’m not sure how much time I have since my dad would like to use his own computer but lets me use it while mine are still down this is actually beneficial to me. However I would have skipped over it if it wasn’t of any interest, at least to any writers out there. Whether you’re hoping to write for an actual episode, comic, video game, novel, or even just fanfic and want to be as authentic as you can, this little section may be of interest to you.
Also it does start out with the part that will only be interesting to writers. It gives the average Trek episode format: teaser and then five parts. I’m not sure what font size they’re looking for since I’m pretty sure writers were already moving to word processor programs over typewriters but it does state that a typical TNG script (or at least the first draft) was supposed to be about 55-56 pages and that would be about 43 minutes of story time, the rest of the hour taken up by credits and commercials. (Nowadays it feels like less storytime and the credits are a dying art, especially the intro.) The teaser (the part before Picard starting talking about space being the final frontier) has to be at least three pages long but no more than five. It doesn’t say how long each part has to be though.
Because the style of the show is a fast-paced action/drama, long rambling scenes are to be avoided.
This is underlined, yet I’m sure we can easily find an episode that forgot this rule. It happens sometimes. Deadlines exist, a full season has to be made, and sometimes it’s all who you know versus how “perfect” you think your script is or how important the rambling is. Still, a good writer or even a good director can make a scene of people sitting around talking look and sound interesting. In the season two episode “Pen Pals” the crew sits around talking about whether or not saving the planet violates the Prime Directive, and it’s a good scene thanks to pacing, cinematography, and the actors acting like they actually care.
I don’t think that counts as rambling though. Take it from an expert rambler. At least it doesn’t drone on about endless exposition or “show, don’t tell” character development. Each character has her or her moment, based on what’s been established about him or her, to make their case whether or not to help a planet in pre-development, and comes to a logical conclusion rather than insisting one or the other point of view is right whether it makes sense or not. Besides, exposition is what the logs are for.
As the guide states, the Captain’s Logs (or Supplemental and Away Logs) are used to fill in gaps that in the past was done by an omniscient narrator or the aforementioned rambling. “As you know” is countered by the log entry telling us what we need to know organically, restating what’s known only to put events in proper context. Additionally the guide says that the logs can be used to show what a character is thinking, either through the official logs or a personal log (which means we get to read their diaries). It also makes a nice segue into the stardates since it says each log should contain one, although at times a supplemental log takes place so close to the last one that they don’t bother.
And here’s the section that might interest you. We already know that stardates are basically bullcrap. But what is the general layout of a stardate?
A stardate is a five-digit number followed by a decimal point and one or more digits. Example: “41254.7”. The first two digits of the stardate are always “41”. The 4 stands for the 24th century, the one indicates the first season.
So there is a method to the formation of a stardate then. Could things have changes since the original series?
The additional three leading digits (254, in the guide’s example) will progress unevenly during the course of the season from 000 to 999. The digit following the decimal point is generally regarded as a day counter.
Perhaps not. There’s no indication what the additional digits represent. There are three so month is out if they’re going past 012. It seems more like meta data. The “1” means season one, so the same example in season 2 is 42254.7. I have to assume that a stardate in the 23rd century should have been 31254.7, which is when the original series took place but that isn’t the case either. For example, the book & record I have put the stardate at 5444.9. To be more official, the episode list in the Memory Alpha wiki gives only four number stardates, not counting the decimal. For example the pilot episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, takes place over the stardates 1312.4-1313.8. Other episodes send that first number as high as the 5s, and doesn’t really follow chronologically between episodes. The animated series wasn’t any better, making further bounces along the timeline. This continued in TNG and I don’t have to check further to believe it kept going. In other words, stardates are still bullcrap.
Next time (whenever that is considering my computer issues) we’ll start examining NCC-1701-D in greater detail. What did they do differently between the Constitution and Galaxy class ships?