A couple of weeks ago I wrote a preliminary reaction to the video game Fallout 4 (which I’d finally gotten around to purchasing and playing) and in the course of that wondered if anyone out there aside from me had ever fashioned up a Zombie Ranch character as an avatar in another fictional world. One of the respondents mentioned that they could perhaps see doing so for a game without roleplaying elements, for instance some straight-up shooter where appearances are purely for cosmetic reasons, but they felt that as of yet they didn’t have a good enough grasp on the characters to confidently take them into some realm where decisions and interactions needed to be made, with attendant consequences. They needed more backstory, more of a sense of where they came from in order to get an idea of where they might go.
I’m hoping that this doesn’t reflect badly on myself as a writer, since at this point I’ve been presenting some of these characters for over seven years. I of course feel like I have a good sense of all of them, but a comment along the lines of the above is still totally fair given that I possess the ultimate insider perspective. Sometimes it’s helpful to remember to try to keep the audience perspective in mind. I’m wondering, in fact, if it might be of benefit, or even possible, for me to read back through the archive and try to approach it from a surface angle where all I know is what’s on the page. How much of a sense of Suzie would I end up with? How much would be open to interpretation?
And while I think getting bogged down in too much backstory is a mistake for fiction, I have to admit I’ve been teasing and then pulling away from tantalizing details on several occasions, and you readers have so far been very patient about that. Portraying character through dialogue and action may in the end only go so far and perhaps I should be considering indulging in a flashback or two (or some similar device), letting the audience in on certain matters that are so far only explicit in my head and notes. I don’t normally like to second guess myself on such things but ideally by now people should have a decent idea of how Suzie, Frank, Rosa and Chuck might handle different situations, right? If not, it may be time for some revisions to address that balance.
Something for me to mull over during this Holiday break, anyhow. I did already plan for one major revelation regarding Suzie to be resolved in the coming issue which will probably put some “puzzle pieces” in place, as it were. Honestly everyone’s got such interesting pasts (to me at least) that I think it’s been more of a struggle over the years *not* to indulge, and right now it might be too awkward in the midst of the current Huachuca and network shenanigans, but we’ll see what can be done. It’s at least good to keep the perspective in mind and remember that all the teasing should get around to some rewards.