Novel Update #13: Just Like George Lucas
Can you name that bald man in the film The Empire Strikes Back who has a computer device attached to his head?
It’s Lobot, assistant to Lando Calrissian. And I bet you didn’t know that the wrap-around device was fused to his skull as a child as punishment for something he did?
Or how about the name Momaw Nadon?
He’s the Hammerhead creature in the original Star Wars you may have glimpsed for a matter of seconds somewhere in the background of the Cantina that Han Solo enters. Did you know he’s from an “environmentally-conscious Ithorian race who live in floating cities?”
These are just a few examples of the extensive supporting cast whose elaborate back stories you probably will never know about in those films unless of course you’re a passionate fan of the series.
The reason I mention them is to illustrate how creator George Lucas was the master of the Back Story. Many many aliens, creatures and the like that appear in any of his Star Wars films have fantastical names, birthplaces and incredibly detailed histories that would boggle your mind. Why? Because it was important to not only Mr. Lucas but his devoted fans that we be able to explain who and what these passing figures were. The fans needed to care about these individuals and what they brought to a scene.
When I first completed my manuscript, I had simply created characters who had names, careers and roles to play in the story. I had a sense of how long they may have known my main characters and maybe a few random notes, but not much else. I didn’t think that mattered, after all they were mere tools for the narrative.
However, once the first professional edit of my novel was completed, I finally understood the point of all that seemingly extra work that Mr. Lucas put in.
All of a sudden, I realized in order for me to feel anything for these “passing voices”, to care about them myself, I needed to pour more carefully crafted heart and soul into them to make them believable people.
The extent of the work I have been doing as of late on the manuscript tackles this challenge. With character profiles, my research has grown far more elaborate than I even expected.
Upon examination, the re-imagined characters needed a whole host of things that I had never even considered before. With their name, birthday and birthplace, has also come educational background, how they met certain characters or proposed to spouses, if they have a fatal flaw that impedes their behaviour, whether they have particular gestures, if they are drawn to hobbies or prefer to be alone, and what their ambition in life may be, to name just a few new aspects.
This is not to say that the manuscript has ballooned in size. Instead, it has simply been an incredibly enlightening experience for me as a writer. I feel I can ream off a list of people now and give you all kinds of information about them that I had never even deemed necessary before.
It’s like pulling actors out of a scene, dressing them in more layers of costumes and then throwing them back in to see how this enhances their performance. I’ve been able to fill-them-out, add more meat and make them far more three-dimensional than merely two-dimensional ideas on paper.
I truly believe this will make the story much more engaging and hopefully the “people,” more noticeable and valued.
And on it goes…
Paula Antonello Moore, Novel. Copyright: Thursday, March 5, 2015
Images from: What Culture