With all the superhero stories out these days, I’ve been thinking about genesis stories. How characters got to where they are today. In our writing, that’s frequently the dreaded BS — back story — which usually gets puked up in the first draft and is then viciously cut somewhere in the second draft.
Also found out that Joss Whedon (creator of my beloved Firefly) is reshooting a prequel episode to his new Fox series Dollhouse because the network feared that the show wasn’t “accessible” as it stood. Ironic, considering that some critics say Firefly was hamstrung by the network airing the episodes out of order (with the genesis story slated later in the season). Which makes me wonder how much people are willing to work for their stories, how long are they willing to wonder, how much anticipation & deferred gratification will they allow. Personally, I thought the Firefly genesis story was more enjoyable once you fell in love with the characters.
Are movies/TV and novels so different that back story must be presented differently? Are the audiences so different? Attention spans? Or are we text-based storytellers behind the trend, and soon we’ll get to keep our long, rambling prologues wherein we see the heroine’s tragic but pluckiness-inducing childhood? Welcome back, chapter 99!