It is amazing how a single conversation can set off ripples that can affect me years later. One of those was about Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menance.
A New Hope
Back in 1999, Lucas had just announced that R2-D2 would be in every movie along with C-3PO. This wasn't received well by my circle of friends for many reasons. The main one is that none of us really liked R2 that much, but also because it was obvious that R2 was a cherished and loved character of Lucas, which means it would be depressingly important to the plot. Yeah, R2 is cute and everything, but I honestly consider his presence in episodes one through three to be as welcomed as Jar-Jar.
Now, somewhere in the endless debates that seems to inflict sci-fi fans when bits of information are leaked out about movies, a friend of mine (SW) made a little observation that I thought very little about.
SW wanted R5-D4 to be the astromech droid in the first three movies. R5 is the robot that Luke first picks out in A New Hope (he calls him “Red”), but when he rolls away from the Jawas, he shorts out.
His reason for wanting R5 is because it suddenly made a side character of a beloved movie important. It changes a little scene of a poor droid shorting out into something heartbreaking after finding out that it was critical to the events leading up to A New Hope.
I know R5's story has continued on after it shorted out, including revealing the location of R2 and becoming a spy. I didn't know about that until I wrote this, but I'm inclined to enjoy my version of his past instead of the current one.
The other part of my epiphany came from my commissions. A number of my commissioners (but one in particular) had me write stories that turned a few seconds of a movie or anime into a longer story. In one case, it was eight seconds into a ten thousand word story. In another, a two minute segment into a fifty thousand word novella.
The reason for such a short section is that they wanted to know how a bit or secondary character got into the scene. In effect, turning the presence of a background character into something more emotional. It changed the gravis of the scene since there was now a story behind it instead of “random person walks behind main character.”
I loved doing those commissions. I had so little to work with that I could come up with something large (and occasionally epic) that ended with a scene in the anime or movie.
In effect, the same hope that R5-D4 was the droid that fought for the Republic.
Buffy and Babylon 5
Related to these were two TV episodes. The first was a Babylon 5 episode that showed other events happening on the space station while the main characters were trying to save everyone.
The other was, The Zeppo, an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This awesome episode focus on Zander, but various scenes would show the rest of the group running around, fighting, or otherwise doing what they do but completely in the background.
Flight of the Scions
I'm currently planning on sticking with novels and stories set in Fedran for a while. The first novel, which is not published yet, was called Flight of the Scions. When I finished the “final” version, it was too large for editing and publication (220k words). One of the attempts to reduce the word count was to peel out a major secondary arc of Waryoni Garèo and his redemption. The result was large enough to be put into its own novel, Kin-Killer.
Splitting that into two novels meant that Kanéko's story wouldn't be able to explain what Garèo was doing while she was running for her life. She would see little bits and pieces, but never see the complete story. But, the same thing would happen during Kin-Killer while Garèo is trying to save her and being drawn into his own story.
I ended up liking the idea, though I don't know if it would work. It is two novels happening at the same time, with characters interacting with each other constantly.
One reason I want to plot out the time and location of each chapter of my novels is because some of them are going to be happening in close proximity to each other.
Somewhere down the line, I found a philosophy for Fedran. Each series is going to focus on a single character and will be written from their point of view. But, it won't have neat endings or explanations. The POV character may never understand everything going on, but there may be another story that does explain it.
Kanéko never finds out why Garèo is so hurt before the climax of Flight. Garèo won't understand how Kanéko grew up so fast in less than a week. Neither will ever know how Rutejìmo influenced their lives or how the events in Sand and Ash saved Meris and Ruben.
But, the reader will. And I think if I pull it off, it will be amazing. A bit character of one story is critical to another. A R5-D4 droid shorting out becomes heartbreaking.
When I was talking about this idea at work, one of my co-workers who is a Star Wars fan gave me a R5-D4 figure and the lovely post-it note on this post.