The Trial of Pantsing (WIP Report)

Every writer’s journey has its unique twists and turns, characters that pop up and demand their stories be told, and inspirations that come from the unlikeliest of places. Today, I want to take you behind the scenes of my current project, “Trial of Transfer,” which is the opening saga in the “Star Trek: First Duty” series.

The Birth of Leo Verde

This venture began unexpectedly, with the creative endeavors of my friend and collaborator, Sam Redfeather, known by many as Gibraltar. As Sam breathed life into his own series, “Starship Reykjavik,” a gap appeared in the form of a JAG officer for his tale, “Conduct Unbecoming.” And so, Leo Verde was born – initially a mere supporting character. Yet, as I delved deeper into sculpting Leo’s persona, it dawned on me: there were stories waiting to be told, with Leo at the helm.

Marrying Experience with Passion

Having spent over a decade working in litigation support, I have a profound appreciation for the nuances of legal dramas and police procedural literature. My experiences and passion merged, allowing me to envision how such riveting narratives could seamlessly fit within the Star Trek universe.

Navigating the Lost Years Era

The Constitution Refit exemplifies the TMP-era aesthetic.

Diving into “Trial of Transfer” also marked my maiden voyage into the Lost Years era, that intriguing gap between the final TOS film and the dawn of TNG. It’s a time period set in 2318, placing it closer to the TMP-era – a design aesthetic that I wholeheartedly adore. This backdrop allows for a vibrant playground filled with the magnificent starships of that era, truly a treat for any Trek aficionado.

Leo’s StoryFrom Privilege to Purpose

Rainerio Eulalio “Leo” Verde, affectionately known to his closest friends as “Rally,” is the epitome of Starfleet lineage, tracing his roots to a family of distinction within the organization. Born bearing the names of his paternal predecessors, he was raised in an environment that reverberated with a sense of purpose and grandeur. Taking inspiration from his accomplished sister, Leo’s journey to Starfleet began at the Preparatory Academy. His fervor for justice and diplomacy manifested early on, culminating in his admission to Starfleet Academy’s prestigious pre-law program. But it was not just law and diplomacy that called out to him; with a minor in command, he showcased a multifaceted flair, a dexterity that would later define his Starfleet career. Though he opted for line duty aboard starships, it was during his space duty that he was exposed to the darker intricacies of power. His nature earned himself disciplinary action. This action could have been a tragic halt to his career, however, his familial influence paved his way to the JAG Corps.

A Mosaic of Character Traits

Leo’s character is a tapestry of intelligence, emotional depth, and an indomitable spirit. His interactions exude a delightful blend of intellect and charm, often leaving a lasting impression. But it’s his genuine empathy that distinguishes him, shaping his journey as a JAG attorney, driven by the quest for justice. While resilience is the armor that protects him from the external world, his deep-rooted loyalty nourishes the bonds he cherishes. However, like any complex individual, Leo grapples with challenges. Striking a harmony between levity and the serious undertones of his role can be a tightrope walk, reflecting his human side, one that is not infallible. Yet, these occasional faltering steps are overshadowed by his innate qualities. His moniker, “Rally”, is emblematic of his essence. In rallying against injustice, in rallying spirits, and in rallying for the rights of his comrades, Leo embodies hope and tenacity. This fierce advocate, guided by an unwavering moral compass, believes in the transformative power of one individual, making him a beacon of positive change. His journey is riddled with challenges. His profound empathy, though a strength, at times blurs the lines of professional and personal safety. This self-sacrificial instinct, if unchecked, may one day cast a shadow, potentially ousting him from the very institution he holds dear: Starfleet. Yet, it is these challenges that mold Leo into a character of depth and nuance, making his journey one worth following.

Starbase Eight and the Challenges Ahead

Starfleet JAG badge
(designed by me).

As readers embark on this journey, they accompany Leo to Starbase Eight, an essential hub orbiting Memory Alpha. This base, teeming with activity due to its significant role in the Federation, holds a labyrinth of secrets. Following the events within the TOS episode, “The Lights of Zetar,” the UFP bolstered the base’s defenses, introducing a fleet and marine garrison. And in such bustling environments, rules occasionally get bent or broken. This chaotic realm is where Leo finds his purpose, diving into the intricacies of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Yet, soon after his arrival, a mystery unravels. A marine’s questionable detention sets Leo on a path, unveiling deep-seated corruption, and leading him to confront some of the base’s most formidable figures.

The Writing Process: Pantsing vs. Plotting

What sets this narrative’s creation apart is my approach. Typically, my process is very structured; all of my stories are plotted, with clear direction from start to finish. However, with “Trial of Transfer,” I’ve been writing on the fly – a method often termed as ‘pantsing’. Up to now, I’ve crafted six segments of the story, and while this freestyle method has granted an exhilarating freedom, letting characters shape their destinies, I’m contemplating reverting to a plotted strategy. This might provide clearer direction, ensuring a coherent and compelling endgame. Especially since my gut is telling me that I’m heading for a very uncomfortable corner, sooner or later. I’m not sure if I’m precognitive or just being my own worst critic. I guess only time will tell.

What’s Next?

The journey of “Trial of Transfer” is more than just another Star Trek story; it’s a testament to the magic that can occur when collaboration, personal experience, and passion intertwine. As Leo Verde navigates the challenges ahead, I invite all of you to join in this adventure, exploring both the vastness of space and the depths of morality.

If you’d like to read the story as it’s being written, I’m posting the unpolished and unedited version to TrekBBS. Otherwise, you can read the polished entry up at Ad Astra right now.