Daily Archives: December 13, 2013

Writing Conference Scenes

When you’re writing a scene where characters discuss the plan — no matter if it’s how to pull off the heist or how to save the ship, or where the killer might strike next — there’s always a danger of going into character overload. By that I mean you create a scene with so many characters that the reader (and maybe you , the writer) can’t keep everyone straight.

If you’re working with established characters in a TV show, it’s different. The original Star Trek had briefing room conferences all the time, but because these moments were usually with the series regulars, knowing who they were wasn’t much of an issue. If you were to write a briefing room scene on a whole new starship, though, think about all the shorthand you couldn’t do. Who’s that guy, and what’s his specialty? How do I introduce this woman’s important tactical information without having to go into pages of detail about who she is? These kinds of writing challenges used to drive me crazy.

I just read a virtual blizzard of Richard Stark Parker novels, and while they’re pretty far away from the “save the ship” briefing room scenes I grew up watching, they serve as models in many ways for the crafting of a good conference.