Thursday, August 11, 2011

Question for writers

When you work with a classic Oz character, do you create a back story for them that you might not refer to that helps you keep in mind how you interpret that character?

I do sometimes when Baum didn't give us enough to go on. One example is the Cowardly Lion. I'm not exactly sure if I want to keep this back story, but it does make a nice character arc that is finished in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The Lion was born in a Quadling Forest, but when he was young, just before he could be taught the ways of a lion, his parents were killed by a giant spider, and he fled to the Munchkin Forest, far from the spider's reach. There, he grew up in fear, without the knowledge of how to hold his own against other animals. (However, he guessed nearly right by trying to scare them with his roaring.) And then one day, he attempted to leap out and scare some travelers who were going by the road of yellow brick, but we know what happened next.

In my opinion, it makes more sense than, say, he rode in on a balloon from Omaha...


Mikelo! said...

Yeah, that does make a little more sense, really.

I'll make up snippets of a character's past pretty much as I need it. I might have something in mind, but for the most part, I'll make it up as the story demands.

rocketdave said...

Ha! I haven't read Roger Baum's book, but I did just watch The Lion of Oz on YouTube like a month ago. Surprisingly, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I'd have to agree that tying the Lion's history in with the Wizard's was somewhat ridiculous.

Your version of the Lion's backstory, with the spider, is simple and makes sense from a storytelling point of view. It's too bad that in real life, not all our hang-ups can be so easily traced to a single childhood trauma. Some people are cowardly and have no idea why.