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As a fan of media I have always had a certain fascination with the show, film, or book that takes us back to the beginning to show us how things got started with our favorite characters or settings.  Examples abound whether you talk about George Lucas giving us the prequel trilogy for “Star Wars.” watching Clark Kent’s formative years on “Smallville,” or reading about Drizzt Do’Urden’s childhood and adolescence in Salvatore’s Dark Elf Trilogy.

The truth is we always like to know what happened to get us where we are in the story.  This, of course, runs counter to what many writers (myself included) have been taught, which is to come into the story as late as possible to tell your tale.  Doing so dispenses with ancillary prose that could easily be communicated through setting and dialogue.  But, once we get an attachment to the place or people we are reading about or watching we often find ourselves thirsting for more about their past.

And, this, is where things get tricky.  After all, how can you create tension when we know how things come out to at least some extent.

Perhaps I am one of the few that thinks in those terms.  But, really, how tense are we as Yoda starts to lose ground to Sidious at the end of “Revenge of the Sith”?  We know the only way this can end is in a stalemate of some sort.  After all, unless we’ve lived under a rock, we know when and where the characters actually meet their demise many years hence.

Am I the only one that finds distractions like this creeping in at times?  It isn’t that I don’t enjoy a good prequel, but much of the tension is simply unsustainable when I know what the characters go on to accomplish later in the story.  It’s almost like the storytellers gave us gigantic spoilers years ago.

Hmmmm….Does that mean that the original “Star Wars” trilogy should be marked with “SPOILER WARNING” stickers?

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One Comment

  1. I hate prequels. The concept always leads to disappointment. It always leads to a list of complaints about the story being predictable or it not being what they expected. If you think about it you WILL have one of these two complaints. If its what you expected its predictable. If its not then you’re deisappointed because it’s not what you expected. I also think it is a form of laziness on the writer’s part. Rather than coming up with something new uniques and relevant it becomes a rehash of old ideas and properties. Besides there is a reason they say in writing you should come late to the party. Without that initial hook a lot of times all is lost.


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