Some tips for writing Fifth Fleet Stories:


·         Conflict drives drama:

No one wants to read a story about the main character getting up in the morning, having breakfast, going to an average job, having an average day, going home, reading the newspaper, and going to bed to have pleasant dreams.  That’s boring!  Whether it’s fighting the Klingons, butting heads with diplomats, or fisticuffs between Starfleet officers, conflict between the characters draws the interest of the audience.


·         Don’t make your characters all-powerful:

Sure, it sounds fun to make your character a member of the Q Continuum, but where is the danger and drama when your main character can simply snap their fingers and the danger disappears?  Try to avoid putting ridiculous constraints on your character just to help the stories make sense by not making the character all-powerful to begin with!


·         Flesh out your characters, but not to excess:

Give your character an interesting background, some hobbies and interests, and perhaps a deep dark secret or two.  But do not fill in every blank regarding your character right from the start!  You will merely be painting yourself into a corner story-wise.  You want to leave some room for growth.


·         Your character isn’t the most important person in the universe:

Additionally, don’t make your character the crown-prince of their home world, smartest person to ever exist, with riches beyond imagine, and a personality capable of melting the heart of a Horta.  Your character can be a better focus for a story being the ordinary every-man who overcomes adversity rather than the Übermensch who is expected to win against all odds every time.


·         Your character should make sense:

It is highly unlikely that a Borg Drone or a Romulan is going to be in command of a Starfleet starship.  While there can be rare exceptions, try not to place characters into situations that make no sense.  If you REALLY want to create a Klingon character, why not create the Klingon warship he or she is assigned to?  Or write a situation that would logically explain your character’s presence in an unlikely scenario.  (Starfleet officer exchange program, for example or a former Borg rescued from the Collective.)


·         Ask for permission when using another member’s character:

I don’t mean you have to ask every time you write a character created by another member into routine everyday scenes, but if you are going to write something that will drastically alter another’s character in any way (ie.: death, serious injury, marriage, birth of children) in a permanent fashion, get permission first!  Exceptions to this rule can include fantasy or dream sequences, but the general rule is “No killing or maiming another’s character without permission”


·         Use TV/Movie series characters sparingly:

We are fortunate to be able to play in the sandbox created by Gene Roddenberry and many other creative writers and with almost 50 years of TV and movie history to support it.  But this is the Fifth Fleet, not Star Trek: The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine.  Our stories – for the most part – do not ‘star’ the characters created for those franchise installments.  While characters like Picard and Janeway might make occasional cameo appearances or even guest roles in our stories when the need arises, the Fifth Fleet Adventures published to our Stories Archive should star our own characters, our own starships, our own fleet.


·         Do not be afraid to create new races:

You do not have to have your characters fighting the same old enemies every time.  For every Borg, Romulan, or Cardassian that appears in a Fifth Fleet Adventure, we also have a Kairn, a Morain, or a Zaqri.  You can add any qualities you like to a race you create yourself, plus not have to worry about being restrained by things that go against established canon or may be contradicted by future productions!


·         Know your audience:

The Fifth Fleet Adventures are written BY Star Trek fans FOR Star Trek fans.  When you write your stories you do NOT need to explain every little detail, like the entire plot of the Next Gen episode you are borrowing a background character from or exactly how a phaser weapon works.  Gene Roddenberry did not have one of his characters explain exactly how a transporter beam works when he wrote “The Cage” in 1964, and you don’t need to either.  We all know Star Trek.  If any of our readers need more information on a character or concept, there are plenty of websites out there that they can refer to.  Memory Alpha and Ex Astris Scientia are among the best.


·         Be Descriptive:

Assume your audience has never read a previous Fifth Fleet story before the one you are writing.  Make sure they know who and what they are reading about.  This may sound contradictory to the previous rule, but the previous rule is in regards to setting – the Star Trek universe (or at least our own small portion of it).  The audience may not be completely familiar with the specifics of your story, so describe who you are writing about… “Fleet Captain Peter J. Koester, commanding officer of the Fifth Fleet Flagship USS Dauntless…”; the location you are setting your scene in… “Kalin Kale lifted the old book off the shelf and gently blew the layer of fine dust off the top of it before placing it down on the table beside the emergency beacon and padd he had just deactivated…”; and identify your characters… “K’danz talked to her first officer Tom Paris as the pair walked down the corridor…” vice “She talked to him as the pair walked down the corridor…”


·         Contractions:

Title contractions (Lt, Dr, Mr.) are fine when used in regular sentences, but should be spelled out when used in dialogue (“Lieutenant”, “Doctor”, “Mister”).  However, never use words like didn’t, wouldn’t or shouldn’t outside of dialogue.  Use did not, would not, or should not, etc.


·         Grammar and Punctuation:

Most computer word processing programs come with a built in spell-check and grammar review.  If you aren’t sure, ask!  (Which leads to…)


·         Everyone needs an editor:

Nothing gets published on the Fifth Fleet website without the story going through story and continuity editor Peter J. Koester, creator of the Fifth Fleet.  The Fifth Fleet Adventures follow a specific format and style, and must be edited to match that format prior to publishing.  The Story Editor also makes sure (as best as is humanly possible) that stories do not contradict one another (continuity).  Once edited, Peter will return each story to its author for final approval before being published to the Archive.


Stories for publication to the Stories Archive should be submitted to


Rules for

Fifth Fleet Writers


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