Howard Weinstein began writing Star Trek stories in high school for his friends and his perseverance over the years paid off when a story written during his senior year was finally purchased and aired on The Animated Series.
Weinstein credits a Star Trek book as his inspiration to become a writer. “When Trek started in 1966,” he said, “I was twelve, and already interested in the real space program, so Trek grabbed me – both the stories and the characters. Stephen Whitfield‘s book The Making of Star Trek, one of the best making-of books ever, really inspired my desire be a TV writer.”
A family connection helped in getting the story submitted, but it wasn’t smooth sailing and Weinstein had to keep on trying to sell the story. “I had an agent, a guy who’d been my father’s childhood friend and kindly agreed to look at my stuff as a favor,” said Weinstein. “He submitted my script, addressed to Dorothy Fontana, who’d been associate producer the first season. By that time, though, Dorothy had left. So Filmation forwarded it to her, and she returned it to my agent without reading it for legal reasons. So, it traveled six thousand miles and nobody even peeked at it! When the show got renewed in late ’73, I re-submitted it using my agent’s name, and they bought it in April 1974. I guess there’s a lesson about perseverance in there somewhere.
Roddenberry liked the script, which focused on what was Trek’s primary appeal for Weinstein, character relationships. “Filmation honcho Lou Scheimer told me Gene Roddenberry called it one of their better first-draft scripts,” said Weinstein. “Lou was surprised to hear I was a college junior and that it was my first script sale.”
From that script, Weinstein moved on to novels and comics. “Lesson One: novels have a lot more words! I never intended to write novels, but I did want to keep writing Trek, so it was a natural progression for me,” he explained. “No matter which medium, the elements of good storytelling in general and good Trek in particular are pretty much the same: strong characters doing heroic things in order to achieve a compelling goal, whether that’s saving one soul or the whole galaxy. When my pal Bob Greenberger invited me aboard at DC Comics, I learned that comic writing is very much like movie or TV scriptwriting, so I got comfortable with that format fairly quickly.”
Weinstein is still writing scripts and novels, and is also a dog trainer. His blog can be found here.