Just the FAQ












Q. What are Motivation-Reaction Units?

Compelling fictional characters like unto real people, need motivation over all. But, more, plotting of chain of cause and effect very much includes stimulus/response patterns, and in character interaction, social stimulus.

Every narrative is constructed from motivation-reaction units. Learn how to write stimulus/response patterns of action and reaction for maximum emotional impact.

The gap in Behaviorism was never cognitive, but Psychodynamic all along. Behavior, including action and expression or dialogue, is often actually less mediated by cognitive events than by Psychodynamic events, feelings and motivations to be specific, often with inner conflict, in an observable (show: don't tell) cycles of Motivational Reaction Units. Cognition is a rational function of the ego, Phenomenologically manifest in reflection.

Existentially, what then is freedom, indeed for whom is freedom? The dramatic scene breaks down into Motivation-Reaction Units: Immediate reactions are often reflexive, but then conscious deliberation ensues upon what action to take next. Or does it? Life can only be lived forwards, but only understood or recognized in hindsight. Indeed, do we consider our options and consciously take action, or do our actions simply come upon us as we react to situation, and only then rationalize afterward? People often make their most important decisions with their heart but only then rationalize intellectually. Motivations and goals as ever set forth thereby, meaning as only created in the mind, interpretation, values, moral sympathies and empathies included, so often ambivalent, are not willfully intended in free agency but received and imprinted in receptivity as we discover ourselves subject all thereto. Most dramatically, relationship, the impression made by characters upon one another, often dawns upon the individual in emotional response to events unfolding. Only then is action undertaken, consistently with characterization, often giving rise to conflict and Setting The scene.

Problem Solving and Justification are reciprocal functions, and one must be shaped to rationalize the other, with integrity or else into hypocrisy. When there arises a discrepancy between the feelings and activity of a character, tension mounts all the more, the greater the obstacles to resolution of whatever ambivalence and conflict.

Real outcomes often result from anything more the likes of karma and confluence of circumstances, than neatly in accordance with plot, sequence and the linearity characteristic of human cognition. Undaunted, human beings have weighed whatever options and decided upon our various preferences via scenario planning however inadequately anticipating alternative possible future outcomes from past experience in the world with one another and of our own motivated reactions thereto, since the very dawning of awareness of action, reaction, cause and effect comprising Motivation Reaction Units of Social Transaction among other events as they fit into any greater and longer picture, and even of duration being: the experienced passage of time itself.

In context of threat and survival or simply of stimulus struggle or any other motivating value or objective, perhaps, a NEED arises → EMOTION wells up in response, → drawing ATTENTION to the Need. Although, of course, the easiest way to show (rather than tell) the need might be for the character first to receive some stimulus either somehow from the world itself, from the immediate environment or simply from another character, any and all to which the character somehow or other must then perceptibly react, either to change or to endure, whatever howsoever suboptimal circumstance or situation. Such are Motivation-Reaction Units together filling up Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action Loops.

"Motivation-Reaction Units," as dubbed by Dwight Swain, are an even smaller subdivision of action than the scene, micro level scene structure, wherein something happened and then someone reacts. For example, best presented in clear chronological order, a sudden threat appears, frightening a character who then reflexively jumps out of the way or collapses or lashes out. Or it might be a sudden opportunity, to which a character eagerly reaches out. Either way, then the character must consciously decide how to respond, what to do or say next. Row differently motivatied characters, together witnessing the same event, may respond quite differently. Thoughts and reactions must be revealed and shown, for the story to remain coherent. Feeling and reflex must be followed by conscious action or expression wherein the character must consciously decide how to respond, what action to take and/or dialogue to speak.

To roughly construct a Motivation-Reaction Unit, first write a sentence or paragraph without mentioning your character such as to provide external stimulus, motivation or cause, then follow it with another sentence or paragraph all about your character showing or implying subjective feeling by believable reasonable response, consistent action in character, the effect thereof and thereby to advance the plot. What happens? Then, what is the motivation of the character, and therefore, how will the character react, perceptibly? Nonverbal communication is highly credible.

In the words of Victor Frankl “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Don't just actout, but remain mindful of karma: Consider who you want to be, your motivations and their origin, and then anticipate the results from past experience. Then in the words of Emanuel Lasker: “When you see a good move, look for a better one. When the best move comes to you, look for any even better one.”

Feeling and reflex must be followed by conscious action or expression, alternating between action and introspection. Then the character must consciously decide how to respond, what action to take and/or dialogue to speak. For example, a character feels frightened by a sudden threat, and reflexively jumps out of the way. -Or leaps towards an unexpected opportunity! Then the character must consciously decide how to respond, what to do or say next. Thoughts and reactions must be revealed and shown, in order to draw the reader into compelling momentary nuance and for the story to remain coherent, even in sequences wherein everything seems to happen all at once.


Q. What are half-scenes, sequences or vignettes?

A. A sequence is a linear order of succession, arrangement or composition, of related shots or action following in order that develop a given subject.

A sequence interjected into a narrative, telling or explaining but including, showing, some glimpse of a related event, constitutes a half-scene, a partially dramatized scene, with some summary elements included; a hybrid of full scene and summary, even a transition with a little bit of dialogue, for the scene to better come alive through the momentary dramatization, generally presenting something deemed important to know but not important enough to devote a whole scene to.

Thus are half-scenes, perhaps very brief flashbacks or fantasy free associations,  character inner life or it's outward manifestation or reflection, or any other momentary digression, in the same general location or elsewhere, often inserted or interjected into summary narrative or exposition, pausing to focus upon some action such as a taste of a dialogue or other exchange or interaction between characters, an incomplete description, stopping short, briefly. but a glimpse and leaving more to the imagination, often providing only just enough detail for the reader to begin to form a picture, but stopping short to let the reader's mind fill in important details. -and often that much more evocative thereby!

Hence is the half-scene frequently suggestively deployed to humorous effect or even blended with other styles.

A half scene, then, is really a vignette, but as a component in a larger composition. -A brief literary description, verbal snapshot or sketch, picture, illustration, or depiction in words, setting, even such as in which the background may be said, figuratively, to recede gradually, lacking definite border, shading off gradually at the edges into surrounding context. 


Q. What are transitions?

A. A transition through the passage of time is any intervening passage, movement, incremental modulation, device, element or additional scene more smoothly connecting any two themes or any one point or stage in a work of narrative to a later or future point or passage therein, as ever needed.


Q. What are scenes?

A. Any lengthier plot usually breaks down into shorter scenes, or subdivisions, each constituting a unit of continuous related action, often of ant character(s) responding to any given situation or dealing with any immediate problem. Not only does every plot require a climax,, but every scene must likewise arrive to it's own mini-climax or cliff hanger. Each scene, in turn, must follow from the preceding scene, with some connecting transition expressed or implied, and, likewise, leading to the next.

Situation must somehow or other alter through the course of any scene so that each scene must serve some purpose in adding or improving further development, action, exposition, implication towards further understanding of the story. Jack Hodgins defines a scene as "a unit of continuous prose narrative, taking place in one location, in which we see and hear characters close-up, in order to move the story ahead by showing what is accomplished when one or more characters (or one character and a significant object) come together in a way that someone (perhaps everyone) pursues a goal and either succeeds, fails, or partially succeeds or fails, or lays the groundwork for succeeding (or failing) later."

Motivation-Reaction Units within scene & sequel
             complex construction
Types of Scenes: The Building Blocks

in plot structure, frame and sequence

All else in the logic of plotting scenes readily follows from pertinent decisions in Motivation-Reaction Units are what need be shown regarding motivated characterization and conflict on many levels, with dramatic obstacles.

Scene structure also generally applies to Futurological scenario planning.

Any scene structured thus:
May be followed by another scene structured so:

The Apex of the short story, which is the high point of the aforesaid story arc of the short story or chapter, is followed by the Reflex, that passage of helpless suspense however excruciatingly long or breathless and brief, in which to await discovery of the resulting consequences in the Climax.

Fictional characters like unto unto the real people they generally represent, are wont to associate emotionally to setting via meaningful key "objects," not only actual physical props, decor, senses, smell, mood, ambiance, light and sound, but also triggers of memory and motivation perhaps focused thereupon, sentimentality after a prolonged absence, or to heighten or show any range of affect and motivation from tragic loss to pleasant anticipation.

Good writing is akin to good reporting, conveying the level of intensity and other evocative qualities of any scene, or, for example, in the vital details of group scenes.

Setting including whatever stagecraft, design and props unfold better as characters come to notice and interact with their environs and milieu. What shows in specific scenes serve to support the story as a whole, even if all such vital considerations are to be deferred as in pod story technique, even collaboratively as in Improv scenework.  For the elements of whatever type of scene or half-scene, in or of whatever time frame or structures, duration and pacing Your Story at Your Speed, need to be well constructed and dramatic for Building Better Scenes.

So, navigate the various possible paths and dead ends and to find stories always dig deeper for insight into difficult struggle.

Indeed, for the audience to care, only advance the plot from the Essence of unique and original well rounded and multifaceted characters, by pressing upon motivation to deepen conflict on every level. Use it or loose it! Observe dramatic economy that always pays off.

Beyond plot frame and sequence, as any matter of style, the scene also depends upon sense or time frame or structures, duration, and pacing

Each scene also needs it's own climax or cliffhanger.

Come late and leave early. Edit!  A scene may differ from a vignette, in that a scene usually must have movement, much as a plot must have conflict on some level at all. An efficient scene should be entered as late in the action as possible, and then transition to the next scene just as soon as everything crucial is revealed or has transpired. Otherwise, there had better be any purpose either in building up before hand or lingering on afterward. A scene may end when whatever point is made, and without excessive belabor.


Action scenes which must be fast paced in order to be exciting, leave little latitude for introspection without losing momentum. To avoid clichés,  characterization, motivated goals put forth, situations, problems and dramatic obstacles, plot complications and devices must already be well thought out.

Characters need motivation over all. But, more, the plot chain of cause and effect very much includes stimulus and response. Thoughts and reactions must be revealed and shown, for the story to remain coherent. Feeling and reflex must be followed by conscious action or expression. For such are what Dwight Swain dubbed "Motivation-Reaction Units," an even smaller subdivision of action than the scene. For example, a character feels frightened by a sudden threat, and reflexively jumps out of the way. -Or leaps towards an unexpected opportunity! Then the character must consciously decide how to respond, what action to take and/or dialogue to speak.

That is why action scenes, whether dramatic or comedic, require danger and suspense am must provoke emotional response among characters. Otherwise, all that will remain is pointless, poorly conceived and boring commotion. Indeed, as well as continual and fast paced action sequences, there are also scenes of pending action, that is to say, really: scenes of suspense such as requiring even however momentary action for their resolution.

Details may be selected in order to show lots of physical action! Not "She ran really fast and slid into second" but "She stretched out her legs, pounding hard and as far apart as they could reach into the soil, then dropped onto her side and slid through the rising clouds of dirt on her right hip, skinning her elbow sharply. . ."

Action is motion propelling plot. As well as sports, action scenes or sequences generally include the shoot out, battles, melee, hand to hand combat or struggle and leave us not forget, ever, just as the saying goes, to cut to the chase [chart]!

Whatever motivation establishing conflict on any level at all, even pathos in fight scenes, needs must come before hand. Indeed, it is often said that any fight scene, depending as it must upon all at stake, can only ne as good as whatever preceding scene. And even such crucial exposition and background information as the terrain is best established immediately before a chase sequence, usually lacking dialogue unless it's short and clipped, even fragmented. Short sentences generally, may help in picking up the pace, but then, in case of incongruous repetition, vary the subject-verb pattern. Be clear by supplying enough descriptive detail to paint a mental picture, but not more.

Effective and dramatic battle scenes especially, often glide between the grand panoramic view of the battle, ever closer and less impersonal views of battle action and violence, close-ups emphasizing the viewpoint or POV and/or secondary characters' part in the battle, establishing his or her particular situation, and finally an interior view, even introspection, disassociation from the carnage into interior monologue, but as with any other exposition, taking care not to slow the action excessively.

Action is procedural, cause and effect in clear and proper order. Indeed, action is movement and best described in sufficient detail. Character behavior must be described visually in active verbs of action and reaction. He shot, she ducked, the mob charged and pressed, the barricade fell, so on and so forth. -But also with appropriate affect and reaction, such as the eerie suspenseful trepidation at impending threat, anger at provocation, confusion in the chaos after being startled by sudden danger, then relief as menace seemingly abates or even triumph in adversity overcome.

Eschewing the arbitrary, gratuitous and ultimately stone boring, bear in mind motive and plot logic as ever. Action and violence, as with any other variety of scene, sequence or scenario, serves to direct the mind's eye and show any manner plot point, theme, motif or detail or characterization.

Characterization to be persuasively foreshadowed throughout in order to raise expectation and anticipation, needs must include whatever particular character strengths and weaknesses pivotal to complicate an action scene. -but hopefully not painfully contrived beyond credibility and the willing suspension of disbelief!

Indeed, thought experiment with divergent scenarios and choices in cause and effect may begin to yield more interesting, varied and unexpected results for an exciting action sequence. What would result if the protagonist does anything differently and what might that lead to? And thence, what kinds of things variously affect how the antagonist must react in turn?

Martial arts choreography in particular, is ever conditioned upon momentum and then into whatever stance any movement must end, with graceful rhythm flowing in variety of attacks and defenses to avoid monotony and sustain entertainment.

Tech Guide - Shooting Action Scenes offers a nigh Situationist Psychogeographic emphasis upon setting with space and props for all action proportionately indigenous thereto, no less than for the chase [chart]. 



  Five Tips On Writing Explosive Action Scenes




Scenes of Sexual tension


Plot structure, frame and sequence through every scene in sequence all serve in propelling the protagonist through the widest a range of emotion, in ever deeper and unto their lowest point. And all that follows from, foreshadows and presses harder upon, and even radically redefines, the central issue and character development along the Character Arc all foreplay (so to speak), building towards the climactic point of highest interest or strongest emotional impact, and a crux upon which destiny must turn one way or the other, to delayed fulfillment resolving at long last the promise of the story, expectations, tension and pathos, even discomfort and aversion, of suspense and anticipation continually built up, that have maintained any doubt of the outcome and sustained suspense and anticipation through out until the characters either exhaust all options or simply run out of time at the Apex of the short story or chapter, which is the high point of it's story arc, is followed by the Reflex, that passage of helpless suspense however excruciatingly long or breathless and brief, in which to await discovery of the resulting consequences seeking climax the destination or height of tension when, as a result, status quo shifts from one state to another, the new equilibrium.  

Not only does every plot require a climax, but every scene must likewise arrive to it's own mini-climax or cliff hanger...


Mistakes in climax and dénouement   


Fo   r, then, in the falling action, follows the dénouement, the aftermath and resolution of any complications and the final explanations any unresolved plot points, the wrap up of the story.  Navigate the various possible paths and dead ends and and to find stories always dig deeper for insight into difficult struggle.

In the usual happy ending, the tension of suspense,  anticipation and aversion, is resolved as the protagonist succeeds through his or her own intelligence, creativity, courage or other positive attributes. This is usually referred to as the story's climax that may be extend into a resolution phase, a dénouement, by reflecting on the action of the story and its significance to the characters or society. The brief denouement dialogue just before the closing credits of a TV drama may be referred to as the tag.




Motivated characterization  

Q. What is sex appeal
-Or, Was it Good for You Too? 


Q. Where is to be found the deeper meaning in fiction?

A. Such depth is there to be plumbed and discovered
                                             in sophisticated Literary thematic subtext...


Q. What about pacing and style? 

A. Click HERE! I know you might not want to! 
But isn't the suspense just killing you?

Not just punctuation and clear presentation, but various extensive and dynamic "show don't tell", 'voice' and Point of View techniques, tips and pointers...

 All that is key  to
               fundamentals delivered via
                                 Writing Great Dialogue


  Overview / brainstorming.

The Fundamentals of Fiction Writing 

Q. What is the speculative element crucial and unique defining Science Fiction that may even challenge or even violate, outright, so many of the writing values, maxims and priorities traditionally central fiction writing?



Q. Any additional more specific and over all follow up advice about fiction writing?

A. After a quick review of the fundamental elements of fiction, follow The 39 Steps: A Primer on Story Writing and be sure to drop by Writers Studio 2 and take the Strange New Worlds Hints, then ponder the Aphorisms for Writing Science Fiction and consult A checklist for critiquing Science Fiction while ordering in fluent Literary and Rhetorical Terms from the Pure Fiction writing menu, and consider the Hardcore Critique Guidelines about How to Critique Fiction when Reading Fiction and then Writing about Fiction.

Q. Is there any recommended linked resource offering pointers on good Science Fiction writing technique?  

A. Browse Constructing an SF Universe


Q. What is all this 'Star Trek' crap? 

A. There is nothing wrong with 'Star Trek' except bad writing, and seldom ever anything right with 'Star Trek' that does not begin with good writing. Same as with anything else... 

So, why fanfic? Because Television provides a convenient modern folklore familiar to all. 


Q. But what if I ever hope to be published?

A. Obviously, fanfic is in all likelihood, inherently unpublishable, given whatever issues of prior intellectual property. Because the publication of fanfic is only ever tolerated in whatever limited exposure and amateur context.

And so, going beyond whatever pure calling or sheer amusement and edification of fiction writing just for it's own sake, and given any motivating goals ever put forth of professional publication, fanfic can ultimately be no more than a brainstorming point of departure, purely an exercise to ultimately feed into all new projects concurrently or later on that will be unencumbered by bothersome restrictions upon prior intellectual property.

And, indeed, a selection of all new concepts are already also to be found included along with the fanfic in the collaborative fiction brainstorming open projects menu.




Join right in brainstorming an original fanfic spinoff!
Q. What distinguishes the Star Trek: The Ship of Fools format in particular, from other STAR TREK series, in any media, fanfic included?
A. Star Trek: The Ship of Fools in particular, from other STAR TREK series, in any media, fanfic included?

Beginning with the outline for introductory six part mini-series also serving as series "bible" for Star Trek: The Ship of Fool, no effort has been spared by glossing over that which is merely perfunctory and dull. Nothing should be included unless it is interesting, provocative or dramatic. To provide new and colorful motivated and even unique and original well rounded and multifaceted characters, and to speculatively advance the ramifications, or at least take over the top rather than simply rehash or further trivialize, the most appealing STAR TREK tropes. 

And that  Star Trek: The Ship of Fools outlines and drafts are truly unfinished, with much to be added and changed, rich with points of creative departure for anyone to join right in an actual ongoing online writer's bull session. Not just dullardly anal formulaic filling in of the blanks with the obvious simply for the sake of completion in immersive detail, even however arbitrarily.


Q. Why the title? 

A. The Ship of Fools, sacred fools, is a classical allegory of the human condition, blind and impulsive in hopes of salvation. And Star Trek: The Ship of Fools is a tale of encounter with the unknown from Rashuman-like multiple perspective, and corresponding dramatic conflict on many levels from clashing motivation

Hieronymus Bosch Annotated schooled fools yellowdog






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