For Star Trek writer/producers Ronald D. Moore and Ira Steven Behr, there was no honeymoon period when it came to writing for Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Both joined the show during its third season and had to hit the ground running.
Moore came on board after his story was found in the slush pile by Michael Piller. “Piller came aboard in the beginning of the third season, and started going through the slush pile, and found my script and bought it,” said Moore. “I got a really lucky break and I had the right script at the right time; he was looking for something like that… that started my whole career, basically.”
Being on staff for Moore meant working hard and working quickly. “Once I was on the staff, here’s the work, and you either did it or you didn’t,” he said. “There was a certain pace that the show went at. I remember very clearly, my first full day on the show. Michael gave me a memo, or a story outline that they couldn’t make work, and he said, ‘Here, go try to make this work.’
I sat down and just wrote up a new version and sent it downstairs; an hour or so later he sent it back up with a bunch of notes on it. Then I wrote up another version and sent it downstairs; the same then happened like twice more. I started putting the time up in the corner; I was literally putting the time of this draft… Michael, at some point, just laughed. ‘You don’t have to do it this fast!’
“I didn’t know what the pace was! I just assumed that when it was given to me, I had to write it as quickly as possible, and fortunately, that was a really important strength to have on a television series, to be able to do it quickly and get it out.”
Behr was hesitant to join The Next Generation because “they were cutting off writers’ heads left and right and it was a bloodbath every week,” he said.
“…it sounded like a complete and utter horror show. They were firing writers left and right; the one that killed me was you’re not allowed to go down to the set as a writer/producer, because it’s not allowed. I said that I’d never heard that anywhere before! And there’s a lawyer who goes around looking through desks at night to find things that they wrote about Gene Roddenberry, because he was Gene’s lawyer, and it was like, “Is this serious?!”
Behr had said “no” to Maurice Hurley, but a year later, Piller convinced him to come on board. He was handed a script for The Hunted and told to “rewrite act 3.”
Behr was on his own and he had to quickly brush up on Trek technology. Richard Danus, who was on his way out, “explained what a Jefferies Tube was, and I went back and literally banged out by hand on a yellow pad, Act 3, scared out of my mind,” said Behr. “There was some dialogue obviously in there, but I was just like throwing it up in the air and hoping there was a parachute attached.”
But both men managed to survive their initial experiences and both went on to Deep Space Nine.