The backstory on Robin, JJ, and Captain Kirk

We saw Star Trek last night. That's right, DH and I actually left the house, sans Little Mysteries, and watched an entire non-animated movie without answering one question or taking anyone potty. It was amazing. Clearly I'm old, because when DH offered to buy me movie treats I just asked for coffee - late night for the old folks!

So, I'm sitting there, waiting for the movie to start, and I can't really chat with DH because the whole preview to the preview reel that they play was way too loud. I remember when they didn't have that reel and life was so much better. The previews were the big event! I also remember life before texting and latte huts, so, like I said, I'm old.

While I'm sitting there thinking about how weird it feels not to have anyone climbing up my hair, my thoughts drift to backstory. See, this movie felt really important to me. In high school my whole family loved Star Trek, The Next Generation. I got REALLY enthusiastic about it, in characteristic Robin fashion. Oops. I stayed up till 11 every night catching up on back episodes. We saw all the movies. We saw a little Deep Space Nine and Voyager. My dad even took me to a convention, which in my naievete simply meant lots of enthusiastic viewers who could get an autographed picture from an actor. I learned that there's a little more to a Star Trek Convention.

And then there's 2004. Lost began. I'd already been an Alias fan and was pretty annoyed that it wouldn't be back till January that season so that JJ could debut some show called Lost. "You might like it!" my sister said. "HA!" I scoffed.

Well, I learned another lesson, because from the moment that plane started coming apart I was hooked. I visited the forum boards where the writers hung out (see, still a geek at heart). I listened to the podcast with Lindelof and Cuse. I discussed it with my buddies from work each Thursday morning. I blogged about it. I loved it! When someone met a tragic end (I won't say who for you who will run out and get the DVD's after reading this) I called my mother at 1 in the morning to vent. (She's much nicer about being woken up for something like that than DH.) I paced. I yelled. I couldn't take it!

Then he followed it up with Fringe and Cloverfield, and by now I'm convinced no one tells a story better than JJ.

So here I am, sitting in the theater in anticipation, thinking all this, realizing how much backstory matters. If you started a story about me right there, on that night, you'd have to find a way to work in that info at some point for anyone to get just how excited I was to see that movie. So, I learned another lesson, backstory matters. We know it as writers instinctually - that's why we're so tempted to dump it in a prologue - then we get our pens handed to us and told to cross it all out. Unthinkable! It matters, but handle with care. JJ's all about backstory, too, if you look at the motivations for Kirk to become captain, or for Jack Shepherd to be a leader or for Claire to take care of her baby or for Spock to take down the Romulans.

And the new movie totally lived up to expectations, by the way. Impressive, very impressive.


Post a Comment