On Worlds, And Worldbuilding

My heretical view on the current Star Wars movies, and by extraction most worldbuilding:

Yes, I liked >some< of the EU stuff, but I'm happy that it's all gone. I have friends who were intimately involved in the creation of that content, and over the last 20 years I've worked in the Star Wars universe myself on several occasions.

No, I don’t care that minor characters from Eps VII and VII, as well as Rogue One, are explored more via tie-in novels and cartoons. If you want me to care about a character in your movie (or book), show me >there< why they matter.

Case in Point: Han Solo and Chewbacca have 40 years of history on screen. But TFA shows me undeniably that Han Solo is a charmer, that he’s a survivor (mostly), and that he loves both Leia and his son. He tells you (and Rey) within minutes that he knew Luke Skywalker, and didn’t believe in the Force until they met.

Do I need to have seen Star Wars, Empire, or Jedi for that to make sense? No. Han Solo is a self-contained character around which plot happens. His time in carbonite was never mentioned in TFA, neither was his time as a smuggler in Jabba’s stable. In fact, I needn’t have seen Star Wars at all to get his characterization in Empire, since the script shows me the kind of man he is inside the first ten minutes.

So I don’t care how much awesome is packed inside Phasma’s armor, since an idiot with a broomstick defeats her, TWICE.

I don’t care about (insert rank, I really don’t care) Hux’s father, or man-child upbringing. The person he is >now< would never have risen past lever-pusher in the Imperial Fleet. There's one line in TLJ that explains him, and it's enough for me. He still needs to die, and soon, but I understand why he's there, and what to expect from him. There's a scene towards the end of the movie that shows his true character, and it happens without a single line of dialogue, or by reading XX chapters in a book I'll never buy.

Kylo Ren I believe. He’s far and away the most scary person within the First Order, and despite his obvious mental instability, are YOU going to tell him he can’t do something?

Didn’t think so. But Hux? Nobody cares about Hux. And nobody ever will. He’s a footnote in history, a blustering martinet with no visible redeeming qualities.

First drafts of novels are packed with assumptions that the reader already knows or remembers the important things about the important characters. Rewrites remove them in favor of clarity, and editors find and squash the ones that are left. I’m rewriting two of my own books right now to avoid this very problem, and they’ll be stronger for it in the end.

On the other hand, most movie scripts with more than one name on them are collections of first drafts squuezed together in a writing room, and then handed to a director who rewrites it some more. By the time shooting starts, a story that started out as a character-rich morality tale has become “something which can be filmed (by zombies),” and that’s all we can depend on.

A few shining gems, in a sea of meh.

P.S. Please don’t trot out the “but they’re canon” line in this discussion. I’ve already said I don’t care. Requiring me to do homework to see your movie, or read your book, makes me less likely to do so. Even if it’s a sequel, you can show me why a character matters in their first chapter or scene.

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