Welcome to my blog!

I am a lefty. I write vertically, cannot use can-openers and was recently foiled by a right handed ladle (I will have my vengeance...) but more than this, I generally seem to approach life from a different angle. I appreciate that this may have nothing to do with being a lefty and may just be my own dysfunctionallity, but after earning the nickname 'Lefty-Flip' after a frustrating game of Guitar Hero, it seemed an appropriate title for this blog.

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Red Shirt Diaries

Do you remember in Star Trek when they used to pop off the Enterprise every now and then to go and investigate some dangerous new planet?

Off would go Kirk, and Spock and Bones… and a Security chap in a red shirt.

Five minutes in (and that’s being generous) said red-shirted chappie would cop it.

Some days I wish I was writing for Star Trek.

I sort of liked the honesty of that approach, like an unwritten agreement between writer and viewer; Look, we know he’s gonna snuff, it you know he’s gonna snuff it, we could waste your time giving you some back-story, making you really feel for this guy, and the wife and kids he left behind… or you know, we could just slap him in a red shirt and get on with the show, cause we only have thirty minutes here, and twenty of that will be Kirk’s log…

It was nice.

Everyone knew where they stood.

Except for the Red-Shirt.

Those guys never saw it coming.

I admit it; I am currently lacking the patience to retrospectively fill out a character I invented purely for the purpose of killing off in three chapters time. He’s nothing but a walking talking plot device.
Literary cannon fodder.

Can’t I just slap him in a red shirt and be done with?

Ah, I could. But then you’d all know what was coming.

PS And yes, I wrote this Sunday evening whilst watching Star Trek and generally procrastinating.


  1. I watched the old Star Treks religiously when I was at University and we used to play spot the one who will die first.

    However, I had never considered this more interlectual side of our game. As you say, we all knew and accepted they would die. They were nameless characters.

    Can you get away with this in a book? I can't think of any examples...I'd be interested to know how shallow you can make them.

  2. I don't think you can. It smacks of laziness, which of course it is!
    I think it only works in something of an episodic nature, where characters come and go. Also some tv shows (like Buffy I seem to remember!) on occasion deliberatly dressed their weekly cannon fodder in red as a cheeky reference.
    I don't think it translates to the literary world though, except maybe you could get away with it in a comic book series?

  3. Yes, of course, that is the point isn't it? It has to be episodic.


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