The original show was basically incredibly optimistic…It said, ‘Hey, look, Ma, I’m in outer space. We made it.’ Again, Gene is the most optimistic human I’ve ever met. It was a very liberal show. It had very strong female characters for the time, even though they were telephone operators and nurses. To have women, in essence, in a combat situation and aboard a military vessel was a startling idea.
—  Melinda Snodgrass, Starlog, October 1989.
Thank you all, catching up and meeting Melinda Snodgrass

First of all I would like to thank EVERYONE who reblogged the information about my missing brother in law.  As most of you know he was found safe and the police investigation is still ongoing.  That’s about all I can say about that right now.  However it was due to a tumblr post that he was found, so thanks to the power of social media once again, someone was rescued.  YOU ROCK!  My family is forever grateful for your efforts and support throughout that horrible time.

My apologies for not getting around to updating.  School has been hell and the week I spent on my internet crusade trying to find Adam put me behind. Since then I’ve had a filming and/or editing project due once a week that ate up much of my time and left me without a lot of sleep.  This is my last semester and so far, it has been the hardest semester of my school career.  I’ve barely been able to keep up with all my pop culture addictions of late and am behind on all of my television duties.  However, I will treat myself to Game of Thrones this week, because duh, it’s Game of Thrones.  Ain’t no way I’m missing that.

Also, more fantastic news, I met the Goddess of Screenwriting for the second time. Melinda Snodgrass!  She lives here in New Mexico (for the time being) and comes to our college, ENMU, every year for the Jack Williamson Lectureship.  Our college has a proud history of science fiction and the largest collection of science fiction literature (historical, fictional and otherwise) in the United States.  Yes, our little college in eastern New Mexico!  

Anyway, Melinda Snodgrass is an amazing woman.  She wrote the famous and award winning Star Trek: TNG screenplay ‘The Measure of a Man’ where Data is put on trial to determine whether or not he is a sentient being.  It was her very first script and it was what got her on the writing staff of TNG.  She’s written for George RR Martin’s Wild Cards series and is writing her own comic book series now.  Seriously look her up on IMDB and try not to be impressed.  She’s my own personal hero.  Female screenwriters are not as rare as they used to be, but she was out there when it was tougher and she’s one of those who work in the background, making progress for all of us who strive to be in the business.  Even though I don’t necessarily want to be a screenwriter, the fact that she has done just about everything, from novelist to screenwriter to comic books makes her my Superwoman.  Oh and she plays video games for fun.  You should read her rant on the end of Mass Effect.  It pretty much echoes what we all thought, just much more eloquently.

So that is why I want to grow up to be Melinda Snodgrass.  Not necessarily as a writing giant, but as a person who is passionate about everything she does, is not scared of taking risks and has a blunt honesty tempered by her magnificent heart.

"The Hands That Are Not There" / Melinda Snodgrass

I’m not sure that deep fantasy / science fiction is really made for short stories. There is world building that needs to be done to fully immerse yourself in the tale.

That said, interesting premise on this one and I would like to have more of the backstory to truly enjoy / understand the whole story.

Originally, Snodgrass had Riker and Wesley teaching Data how to swim in the show’s teaser. ‘I would like to do the swimming pool scene,’ she admits. ‘I think it could have been very funny. But Brent Spiner and I have never agreed on that. Brent is much more in love with the poker scene.

'In retrospect, what has come out of it is exciting. The poker game has become an ongoing thing that people are using. Richard [Manning] and Hans [Beimler] came to me and asked whether I would mind if they used the poker game in one of their scripts. I want to create a sense of community - that this is a weekly card game. So, they wrote a wonderful scene with Worf in the game just kicking butt and taking everyone for everything they've got in The Emissary. I'm glad because it makes me feel like I've done something that has expanded the mythos in a little sort of humanizing way.'

—  In the October 1989 issue of Starlog, Star Trek writer and story editor Melinda Snodgrass talks about the first TNG poker game, in her script “A Measure of a Man.” I had no idea we were this close to crew swim meets. Glad it turned out the way it did.
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Deadlier Than the Male

Written by Melinda Snodgrass

When I was first invited into the anthology entitled Dangerous Women it was then known by a different title — Femme Fatales. Which has a particular and rather negative connotation. Various dictionaries describe such a person as a seductive woman who will ultimately bring disaster to any man who gets involved with her or a woman who lures men into dangerous or compromising situations. It’s a very noir attitude summed up by generations of male detectives stating — “From the minute she walked in I could tell the dame was trouble.” And I confess I wrote that story though the woman in question is a revolutionary and a freedom fighter so she damages the man in pursuit of a good cause. Continue reading on Tor/Forge blog »

From the October 1989 issue of Starlog interview with Melinda Snodgrass:

"I have the Hollywood Cinderella story of all Hollywood Cinderella stories…George R. R. Martin, producer on Beauty & The Beast and a close friend, said that he thought I would be good at screenwriting because of my strengths in characterization and dialogue. So, I wrote a spec script for Star Trek and everyone from my agent to George said it was just a calling card. The day after I delivered the script to my agent, the writer’s strike started and everything went on hold.”

But in October, 1988:

"I flew out and I thought it would be a pitch session…I had three other story ideas clutched in my hot little hands. I met with co-executive producer Maurice Hurley and after we talked for a few minutes, he said, ‘I love this script. I’m going to buy it.’ I just floated out of the office and went home to New Mexico to make some necessary changes."

After finishing “A Measure of a Man,” Snodgrass was called to another meeting with Gene Roddenberry and Rick Berman (at the time co-executive producer with Hurley):

"At the end of the four-hour session, Maury turned to me and said, ‘I’m going to give you a job.’ The next day my agent called to tell me they wanted me as story editor. One week later, I came out and started work. So, that’s the Cinderella story. I sold a spec script, which you’re never supposed to be able to do, and I was hired not as a staff writer - the normal entry-level position - but as story editor. It still feels very strange."

We’re still trying to figure out the right tone for Troi. I know it’s difficult when you have a mind power-based person, but everybody takes the easy way out. ‘I feel great pain.’

We have not yet seen Troi truly being a ship’s counselor. I mean, this woman has 80 thousand and 11 degrees in psychology and human development, and she’s there to actually counsel if you’re having a problem. However, Gene believes humanity is infinitely perfectable and that in the next 400 years, we’re going to take this step forward into homo superius. We will be able to leave behind the petty parts of our nature - jealousy, greed and those sorts of things. That’s lovely and optimistic, but if people can handle their own problems, then what can Troi do?

[…]

I’ve been toying with Troi as an ambassador. She would be used when we first contact a new culture or have cross-cultural dealings. I think Troi should be a member of the Away Team every time one goes down, particularly if there’s an alien culture. We’ll probably downplay the empathic nature as well.

—  In the October 1989 issue of Starlog, writer and story editor Melinda Snodgrass speculates on where the writers will take Troi’s character. Snodgrass’ comments are so awesome, but it’s really too bad it never happened. Yes, Troi did get to counsel a couple of people and help liaise with some alien leaders, and she got a bigger bump when Jeri Taylor came on in Season 4, but never the kind of sustained importance and profile Snodgrass seems to have been contemplating at the end of Season 2.
Review: Tears of the Singers by Melinda Snodgrass

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Melinda Snodgrass wrote a Star Trek novel in which Uhura and her cranky, Beethoven-esque, musical genius boyfriend try to stop evil hunters from clubbing magical singing baby seals.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s actually pretty good as far as Star Trek books go, especially if you can keep reminding yourself that it was written in 1984, when a future full of super-advanced synthesizers and “Computer Tapes” seemed plausible.

The Plot

There’s a bonkers spatial anomaly that is basically eating the galaxy between Federation and Klingon territories. Spock figures out there is some kind of musical pattern to it but doesn’t have the musical skill to translate. Coincidentally they are on a starbase where there’s a musical genius, Guy Maslin, who is short, ugly, and as cranky as Beethoven but also as idolized as…Justin Bieber? One Direction? (what are the kids listening to these days?)

Read More

I wanted to take a look back at the women working behind the scenes of the five live-action Star Trek series, starting with the writers. I wanted to celebrate all the women from D.C. Fontana on, who broke barriers and made their mark on the franchise.
It’s hard to narrow down what to highlight.

D.C. Fontana’sThe Enterprise Incidentand Jean Lisette Aroeste’sIs There In Truth No Beauty?brought us some of the most interesting, complex, empowered women guest characters in the entire Original Series.

Melinda M. Snodgrass’ script forThe Measure of a Manwas the first TNG script ever accepted on spec and it has stood the test of time, widely recognized as one of the top 10 episodes of TNG.

Message in a Bottle, teleplay by Lisa Klink, strikes an impressive balance between being exciting and humorous, all the while doing the work of character-building for Seven of Nine, Torres and The Doctor.

But there’s so much more.

I created the list below as a resource for other people who want to find Trek episodes that credit women writers. I chose to include women who received credit for writing, teleplay, or story, due to the difficulty making judgments about who had what significant impact over a particular script.

I have my first article up at Trek Radio, where I list all the live-action Trek episodes that credit women writers.

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