Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursentary: That One Character Who Didn't Get Enough Backstory

I don’t know about you, but I am in it for the character-driven plotline. I love those things! I love getting to pore over a character’s history and heart and find out why they’re doing what they’re doing and whether they should stop. Of course, I can’t always do this.

It’s all because of That One Character Who Didn’t Get Enough Backstory.

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That One Character can come from anywhere. They could be a main character, a minor player, a villain, an extra. No matter their role in the story, that character sticks out to you. She’s special. He did something that caught your eye and you remembered it forever. You wanted to see what they would do next… but never got the whole story. For whatever reason, the author stayed quiet when you wanted to know more.

And now here we are with a beloved character and an ignorance of what drives them.

For me, That One Character is Emmett Cullen from the Twilight Saga. It’s very easy to forget that Emmett is a complete and total bro.

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We can forget because Bella spends more time with the other vampires, so one could assume that Emmett doesn’t like her very much. Especially considering his wife doesn’t. But this is not so.

Emmett greets Bella like a friend. His competitive and protective sides make him the most vocal when James, Victoria, and Laurent threaten Bella’s life. He doesn’t hesitate to defend any one member of his family, whether they be vampire, human, or dhampir. One of my favorite scenes in the movies is when he joins Bella to present Nessie to Aro.

Emmett Cullen does not suck as a person. And we know practically nothing about his former life.

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I don’t think it’s fair. Almost every other Cullen reveals important, emotionally-charged tidbits that help us understand who they are and why in their second life. We get Carlisle’s compassion, Esme’s love, Rosalie’s bitterness, Alice’s mystery, Jasper’s combativeness, Edward’s loneliness…

Apparently the fact that Emmett got mauled by a bear and almost lived speaks for itself. Except, it doesn’t.

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And I’ve felt that way about maybe other characters. Emmett isn’t That One Character alone. Tell me more about Captain Mal from Firefly. Give me a little more into who Chief Karen Vick is on Psych. Where did Sophie Devereaux come from before Leverage? What happened to Minerva after she met Artemis Fowl?

I’m not asking for new novels, new movies, new TV series. That would be a bit much. But still, looking back on what is and what could have been, I have to ask myself—what don’t we know about that character? What about their beginning made this the most compelling ending?

I wish I knew.


Do you have a favorite character you wish received more backstory? 

12 comments :

  1. oh my gosh, I really thought Minerva was going to be important! I really liked her (and kind of shipped her with Artemis at least a little) and then she just disappeared off the face of the planet (or the Fowl universe). Backstory without info dumping is really important for understanding what makes the character who they are. I don't remember Emmet if he was in the books I've read, but other characters I'd like to hear about include Peter Pettegrew (like what makes him go to the dark side), and Rey in The Force Awakens, and angela in Eragon. (although she's supposed to be mysterious. I wonder what the best way to include backstory is?

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    1. Right? She had an interesting setup and Butler even mentioned that she'd stayed in contact at the end of book five and then no one ever said anything about her again in the world. Blah. Peter Pettigrew would definitely be an interesting character study, and Angela, too! Angela was always one of my favorite characters in that series. I'm curious about Rey as well, but since we aren't done with her story yet, I'm willing to wait until the next SW story.

      If I was a perfect writer I would answer that question but I'm not so I c'not.

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  2. For me at the moment, It's Hermann and Newt from Pacific Rim. They're both fantastic characters with about zero backstory, and I'm DYING to know more about them.

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    1. Oooh, interesting. Zero backstory is the worst! I hope you learn more about them soon.

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  3. Konn Torin from The Lunar Chronicles is a character I would have loved to know a bit more about. He obviously cares about Kai and is close to him, but I would like to have learned more and get a better glimpse into who he is.

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    1. Oh yeah! I totally didn't think of him but I think you're right. Especially since he would have played a major role in Kai's upbringing, coming to have a bigger picture of him would have been another fun aspect to bring into Stars Above.

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  4. YES. I so wanted more about Emmett. *whispers* He's my favorite character in the whole Twilight saga. I was a bit frustrated he wasn't given more backstory, and just more time in general. He's basically the big brother I never had and never will. *sad face*

    Grr, I wish they had been able to do more Firefly, because I'm right with you on wanting more backstory about Mal. So much. I mean, I appreciate that he is somewhat of a closed book when it comes to his past, because that fits with this character, so in that one case I do think we would have needed more seasons to show us more about his story in a natural way.

    I wish we knew more about Penny from Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. She kind of references a bit of a hard past, and I want to know what happened and how she stayed so sweet and naive in the face of difficulties.

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    1. *whispers* Carlisle is mine but I totally get where you are coming from because Emmett is a bamf. The fact that he is the big brother we've never had and never will is really what we want to know more about though, right? Like, why is that his motivation? Why doesn't he use his bigness and strongness to oppress others, for example? Why is he a protector? INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW.

      Like, sure, do a comic book about Sheppard Book but let's just make Mal mysterious and weird. BECAUSE THAT IS FAIR. But I agree. When you have more seasons of a real series, the more you can put the characters into situations that either call back pieces of their would-be forgotten pasts or that press them to their limits and reference their upbringing... And if we could have done that with Mal... well.

      Oh, yeah, that's an interesting idea. Knowing how she stayed "pure," as it were, between Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer and her childhood... I think that would be a great thing.

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  5. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS. ALL OF MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH BACKSTORY (in my opinion).

    You already know my complicated relationship with Twilight, lol, so I'll spare you the details but on this point, I have to agree: Emmett is cool (pun not intended). And it's strange that when everyone else gets these long, fleshed out, practically flashback backstories, all we get about Emmett is that "he was mauled by a bear." Nothing about who he was, what he left behind, why he was even out in the woods in the first place... just he was mauled by a bear, Rosalie saved him, and they fell in love and lived happily ever after (until Bella). This is the part where I always sprint to fanfiction.net, but that's just me. :)

    Also, I tagged you for a zombie thing! Use Twilight if you do it? https://thessalexa.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-zombie-apocalypse-tag.html


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbosityreviews.com

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    1. RIIIIIGHT?

      I've always thought that was super weird, too. I mean, even if we don't need a lengthy backstory regarding how he got to be strong, I would love to know where he came by his particular brand of morals and the times he has accidentally eaten people.

      Oh, thanks for tagging me! I'll be sure to keep Twilight in mind. :)

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  6. MINERVA. I'm pulling my hair out years later as to why she dropped off the face of the planet. What's even with that? She and Artemis would have made the best pair ever, especially if she got together with his younger self in The Time Paradox or something.

    I also want to know more about River Song in Doctor Who, because we don't see a lot of her onscreen and you get the idea that she's just as crazy as the Doctor off-screen and I really want to see more of that.

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    1. Right? It seemed like her character was being set up for more and then NOOP. Although I wasn't a shipper of Artemis with anybody. I just thought it was weird she went away.

      I am not a fan of Doctor Who but River Song's reputation precedes her and yeah, I'd actually be interested to see her out and about. I might actually be more interested in a show about her. XD

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