Monday, April 13, 2015

K: Kahn


My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year is a mishmash of books, movies, writers and TV shows that have in one way or another taught me something about writing and helped me be a better writer. Some inspired my own stories and a few taught me what not to do. Each post is a one minute lesson on writing. Also find inspiration at the IWSG blog every day in April.

Kahn is a bad guy in the Star Trek universe. He's a genetically engineered soldier with some god-complex issues. He's brilliant, physically superior and the embodiment of arrogance. Soldier is the Kurt Russell character in an older movie. He's raised to be soldier after a very cruel upbringing to mold him into a merciless and tough fighter, trained to follow orders. In the movie, his generation of
soldiers are being replaced by genetically improved and younger soldiers. Both these futuristic science fiction play around with the idea of people trained or bred just to serve as soldiers and little value is place on their lives. Both of these movies gave me ideas for my bestselling series Recon Marines which is about genetically-engineered soldiers. The questions I asked myself about these two plots: Would the creators of such soldiers eventually come to fear them? Would these soldiers ever question their superiors? What would we do with them when they were too old to fight? If they were created in a lab, would they have the same human rights as others? How might their harsh upbringing and training influence their characters and personalities? Could they ever live as normal citizens? What would their emotional states be like? My Recon Marines are not like Kahn or Kurt Russell's character but my own creation inspired by those movies. I have a biology minor, so throughout the
series I was able to include real science about genetics.

Lesson: If a movie or show inspires you, watch as a writer and ask yourself what works in it that makes you like it. Use what you know to help you in your writing such as I used my biology background. Find ways to make sure the reader sees your protagonist as sympathetic. Asking yourself questions as you plot will help you deepen the plot and avoid holes in the story line.

"A fault denied is twice committed." French proverb

And since today is Thomas Jefferson's birthday here is a quote from him.
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

If you saw the Star Trek movies with Kahn (old or new), did you ever feel bad for him at some point? Do you think our future might hold some type of genetic engineering to improve people physically and intellectually? Are there problems you would foresee with that? Are you keeping up with A to Z?


66 comments:

  1. Both brilliant films. I think some of the most important lessons in writing is looking carefully as points of inspiration, you are absolutely right.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. You never know when and where you might find them.

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  2. Are you keeping up with A to Z?
    Well, I'm one letter behind, which I will catch up with tonight *fingers crossed that it goes according to plan*

    Here are my K-thoughts:
    Kickstart your K-Day at your keyboard with a keen and knowledgeable, killer, knockout, kick-ass attitude.
    Kapow!
    Keep at it!
    Happy K-Day!

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  3. lesson taken. nice quotes, managed to post k for kitchen knife

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  4. It seems like anytime we mess with stuff there are problems. We are always trying to see if we can do a thing without stopping to ask if we should.

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    1. Oh yeah. we seem to skip 'should we' quite a bit.

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  5. I enjoyed both of those movies. Yeah if we write what we know it can help a lot.

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  6. So very hard to watch tv or film drama when you spend much of your week writing. I become so critical about the plot, and it must have rubbed off onto my poor husband, for yesterday he said,' No that should not be classified as a B film, it should be given a D :0)

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    1. I do that too, Carole. Sometimes it's just too unbelievable.

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  7. I liked both of these films too. I thought Soldier was highly underrated too.

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    1. Yes, a fellow fan. They should have made a sequel.

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  8. Some good questions. It would be difficult for them to fit into society.

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    1. That part was fun in my books. It was a struggle.

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  9. I'm loving this A to Z Challenge and just posted my K word. I have to thank you for posting the link to Insecure Writer's Support. I'm going to have to check that page out. As for your other questions, I love movies. I can't seem to turn off my internal editor when I read but it doesn't affect me when I watch a movie. On to new genetic engineering to improve people physically and intellectually...I'm in but ethics needs to be a topic at the top of that page. Great post.

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    1. The real worry is who decided on the ethics. That was addressed in one of my books.

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  10. I love Star Trek Into Darkness. I've only seen a little bit of Soldier.

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    1. Soldier isn't a light=hearted movie at all. Every part is dark.

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  11. I love a good antagonist! Seriously, I love studying bad guys. They are a hero in their own minds. :)

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    1. The best heroes think they're the good guy.

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  12. Creating stories, using a background in science is always fascinating to me. The writer has to tweak both fantasy and reality to create something unique. Loved learning about the stories that inspired yours.

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  13. I LOVED the new Star Trek Into Darkness film. Cumberbatch was a great Khan.

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    1. Star Trek is having one of the better reboots in my opinion.

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  14. Now I want to know what a biology mirror is....

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  15. I worry where the tampering of unborn babies' DNA will one day lead. I know they are trying to find a way to eliminate certain diseases, but it makes me nervous.

    I have a thing for Kurt Russell, so I really liked Soldier.

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    1. Makes me a little nervous. And Kurt Russell is one of my favorites too.

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  16. Kahn was a great character on those films and TV.

    As I See It Daily

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    1. He was a great enemy. We could sympathize with him to a point but then his cruelty and arrogance won out.

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  17. Well, I already have bionic eyes so I guess I'm a little engineered. Now if they could only give me bionic finger joints, I'd be ready to roll. :)

    I like Khan in both the original series and the recent movie version. I could honestly see both sides of that coin.

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    1. I have a bionic knee and it works better than the old one. Not so great through metal detectors.

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  18. Hi Susan - I'm not sure I've seen either movie .. but that's the life I lead - non SciFi ... but as you rightly say .. I do now take a different line watching some films, tv programmes etc .. as I query things ... I'm sure when I sit and start to write something serious .. my thoughts are much more likely to gel - and there's loads of resources here in the blogosphere .. Kurt Russell is good ! Cheers Hilary

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    1. I know you don't was scifi. Kurt Russell has aged well.

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  19. Good questions to ask about characters. I never saw Khan to remember. I hope the future doesn't hold engineered humans.It probably will though. We seem to have enough problem among regular ones. I am keeping up. and I should go get back to L.

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    1. Maybe not enough of us are regular. Perhaps in the future we'll be more alike and get along better.

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  20. There is no such thing as a useless background when it comes to writing :) (mine is archaeology and I am using it all the time). Also, it is good to remind ourselves sometimes that just because a premise has been used before, doesn't mean it can't be done in a new way :)

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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    1. That is an excellent point. Look at all the new ideas people have with Zombies and super heroes.

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  21. Yeah Khan kinda got the shaft. I'd be really pisssed off too if I were left stranded on a planet that wasn't mine.

    Stephen Tremp
    an A-Z Cohost
    @StephenTremp on Twitter

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    1. Khan was mistreated. They didn't understand what they had created when they made him and his kind.

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  22. I felt more sympathetic for the soldier in Soldier than Kahn, but yes, I did feel sympathetic for those characters. And, I love the questions you asked yourself. I have a scifi novel that someday I might revamp that was partly started by Soldier, by Ender's Game, a video game my husband was playing at the time (War, Inc), and the fact that the high school where I was student teaching had accepted corporate sponsors so they could have a tv network and studio in their school - 15 minutes of junk food commercials per day (wisely made before class hours started) for a connected network of 125 tvs and a tv studio. It made me wonder just how far we would allow corporate interests to run our schools in the future, and what that could mean for our students - could they go to a mercenary high school - meant to train up security employees for a corporation . . . and then . . . well, you get it. Ideas piled on top of ideas . . .

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    1. Wow, I see how all that could mix into a really great plot. As I get older I have even more sympathy for Soldier. All these youngsters want to replace us old folks. LOL

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  23. And now, I want to throw my plans away for a day and unearth that old novel. :)

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    1. LOL. I was thinking of putting the DVD on too.

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  24. We are God's creation alone. I feel that if we mess with it, we will feel *his* wrath rather than Khan's. Cancer would probably mutate us into something horrific that you would only see a-creeping as deformed bulbous beasts skulking at night in deep, dark caves! Do I want that? No! Or some other terrific disease will pop up from our pompous attempt at "improving" people.

    Just look at our GMO food and what it is doing to our health! x(

    Elizabeth Mueller
    AtoZ 2015
    My Little Pony

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    1. Well said. Definitely it would get messed up.

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  25. Now, why did I not think of this? > *If a movie or show inspires you, watch as a writer and ask yourself what works in it that makes you like it.
    I need to do this and even write it down somewhere. It would help a lot. Thank you Susan. :)
    *Shantala @ ShanayaTales*

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    1. I'm doing that right now as I watch The Iron Giant.

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  26. I don't think I ever felt sorry for Kahn, but I only superficially watched the Star Trek series/movies mainly because others around me liked to watch them. Maybe if I did a character development about him, I might think differently :) Interesting though to read how you got the idea for your book series.

    betty

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    1. Kahn could have been a good guy but he developed a god complex.

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  27. That was the first Kahn to pop into my head. And I'd love to see the accurate portrayal of genetics and biology in a book. Too often writers neglect the science part of their science.

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    1. I try to keep the science light but what I use I want to get right.

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  28. I haven't watched the movies closely enough to pass a judgement on Khan, but I'm scared of genetic engineering in plants, let alone people. Once we start acting like God, things are bound to go wrong!

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    1. Agreed. We shouldn't mess with the basic design.

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  29. Love Khan in both incarnations! Such a great villain because you do feel for him. Great choice!

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    1. I like the newer better but maybe just because I haven't seen the old one lately.

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  30. you're doing a great job with this a to z. i liked the old kahn, he was in charge of fantasy island in his off time! woot!

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  31. Happy Birthday to Thomas Jefferson and amen to that quote: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

    So very true....

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  32. Hi, Susan,

    Interesting post and theme.... I liked your questions about these created beings. It's fun to think of what will happen to them after the fact. I also like your suggestion about watching movies, TV as a writer.... I do subconsciously, I think all writers do...

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  33. My kinda khan is the lady that sings. Ha!! So this was new to me. Love it!

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  34. I did feel bad for Kahn, when he spoke about his crew and how they had been put into the missiles. Yes, he had a god-complex and he was a little crazy, but he had feelings for his people and that shows humanity.

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  35. Khan is a great character. He's like the ultra intelligent computer that decides the human race is useless, but with a heart. So, you almost believe him!

    You can find me here:
    ClarabelleRant

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  36. I sometimes watch a movie with a pad and pen to take notes to study storytelling techniques. I think since our culture is so visual now, it helps us as novelists to think more cinematically. As for Kahn, he's the guy I remember most from the first group of Star Trek movies. Though I don't remember the details, he stands out, so obviously a great character.

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  37. Old Kahn, loved him. My grandma had crush on him so we also watched Fantasy Island.

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  38. You pose some good questions that would lead to an interesting story.

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  39. I spit my last breath at theeeeeeeeee!

    Love the original Khan and I think the new movie did a great job switching it up.
    Heather

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  40. I always thought the Kahn character was a great creation - a sympathetic villain? Awesome. I loved the old movie, cheesy as it was, but the new one was a bit...over done.

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