Tag: background

Backstory is for Busters

But what makes you sit down and absorb lifeforms into yourself? Did it start with your father? Tell me about your mother, did she absorb lifeforms?

The thing I love about classic Sword and Sorcery like Conan is that Howard had no need for useless backstory. You find Conan chilling in some tavern, he hears about a wizards tower filled with loot, he decides to rob it freeing ancient gods and fighting monstrosities along the way. Simple, done, no bullshit.

Modern fantasy writers instead of focusing on the action would spend paragraphs boring me with the socio-economic role of said wizards tower in the city economy and how the looting economy would be disrupted by Conan’s actions. All of this following an in-depth two book background story on Conan’s intra-personal family relationships and his estrangement from his mother causing him to be a wandering barbarian thief.

The nerdy obsession with over explaining everything is really a symptom of our current generations inability to deal with the unexpected and unexplained. Bret Easton Ellis in his book White talks about 70s and 80s horror movies and how they lacked explanation.


… movies made in the ’70s didn’t have rules and often lacked the reassuring backstory that explained the evil away or turned it into a postmodern meta-joke. Why did the killer stalk the sorority girls in Black Christmas? Why was Regan possessed in The Exorcist? Why was the shark cruising around Amity? Where did Carrie White’s powers come from? There were no answers, just as there were no concrete connect-the-dot justifications of daily life’s randomness: shit happens, deal with it, stop whining, take your medicine, grow the fuck up.

Bret Easton Ellis in White

Excessive backstory and explanation demystify, destroying fantasy and imagination.