Professor Firstdraft’s GOODTIME SCRIPTORIUM

Dispatches from the far reaches of the WGF.

The Writer Speaks: D.C. Fontana

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Sometimes you live long. Sometimes you prosper. And sometimes you wind up doing both.

Dorothy C. Fontana had been pitching and selling television episodes for years before joining STAR TREK – as creator Gene Roddenberry’s secretary. She’d written episodes of THE TALL MAN and BEN CASEY – and was one of a relative few – heck not just a relative few, an actual few – women writing television at the time.

Soon, she began pitching outlines and episodes to Roddenberry. The rest is history (well, 23rd Century history, anyway). Fontana not only wrote classic episodes like “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” – the first time travel episode – she also helped determine the future of the franchise, bringing on well-known science fiction writers like Harlan Ellison and Richard Matheson, and eventually helping develop characters and concepts for STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.

“We chose in the early months of STAR TREK to go with strong science fiction names,” she told WRITTEN BY, the magazine of the WGA-West. “We felt that would attract people to this show. Uh, it’s science fiction. We’re not fooling around here… We were not making kiddie stuff. This was hard science fiction. Nobody else was really doing the kind of science fiction we were.”

In this video, Fontana tells the story of her life as a writer, as part of our ongoing oral history series, THE WRITER SPEAKS.