Not Everything is For You. Or Me. And That's Ok. What I've Learned About How Star Wars Fans Read
This book has no characters I care about. I mean, it is a big galaxy—there are more people than just the main characters!
This story focused too much on (insert topic here).
This story didn't reveal the things I want to know.
We need to focus on more than The Big Three (Luke, Leia, Han).
It just seems coincidental that they happened to run into (insert name of one Big Three here). That's small galaxy syndrome.
That isn't the story I want to know about.
I want more information about (insert name or topic).
Yaddle, Yaddle, Yaddle
And the list goes on. All of the things listed above are things I have heard one way or another from Star Wars fans. I know you can't please everyone, but any author who is writing for the Galaxy Far Far Away has their work cut out for them, and I'm not referring to the actual work of generating content, I'm referring to the fandom.
Nerd Alert: Amy Likes Books
I'm a lifelong reader. It is my absolute favorite thing to do, (yes, even more than watch Star Wars). I love well developed characters and a good story. That is what really rings my literary bells. I didn't start reading Star Wars books until after I saw The Force Awakens, which revitalized my personal fandom and led to taking my first steps into the larger world of Star Wars podcasts, Star Wars Twitter, and Star Wars literature. I've been reading hard since to take in as much as the new canon as possible, and have started dipping my toe into Legends also. And for the most part, I have liked the books I've read. I've even loved some of them. But I don't just read Star Wars. And in all the other books and genres I have read, I have never encountered readers like Star Wars fans. There are three subsets that I've noticed that I'll explore here.
Do you analyze every word in every book like Grand Admiral Thrawn?
The first group is the Data Checkers. This is the group that quickly analyzes every minute detail of each new book to find those little nuggets of trivia to answer the nagging questions. This is where we see articles and YouTube videos like "The 25 Things We Know about the Jedi After Reading Empire's End" (not a real thing, at least I don't think so. Yet.) Where the Data Checkers can run into trouble is that much of the content is in the form of stories. Not databases (or databanks) full of factoids to memorize, not a checklist of characters or outcomes or answers to questions. It's fun to know the little details, but it isn't a requirement.
Don't choke on your aspirations. Or all the canon.
The second group is the Completists. This is the group that feels what could safely be described as a compulsion to take in every bit of Star Wars content. The movies, the shows, the books, the comics, the video games, other content I'm not even aware of. Fear of Missing Out and of Not Knowing ALL the Things drive these fans. Content is being produced at an astonishing rate. Keeping up is akin to drinking from a fire hose. I've heard people lament feeling burned out by all the content and frustrated at their inability to keep up. And I feel you. Even with unlimited time and budget (and let's face it, no one has either) it's nigh on impossible totake it all in. As Star Wars fans, we have an embarrassment of riches at our disposal. It's perfectly acceptable to take what you like, and leave the rest. There aren't any awards being given for knowing all the things. Don't let fear of missing out make experiencing fandom an onerous task instead of a life-giving passion.
Do you wish every story told fell into your ulitmate design? Get mad when it doesn't go as you have foreseen?
The third group is the All About Me group. This is the group that is really disappointed in certain content because it isn't in line with their head canon, doesn't give the information they wanted or didn't meet another expectation. I've often heard that used as a substitute for actual analysis and criticism of a book. It can be a helpful internal exercise to examine what you liked or didn't like about a story and why, but we need to remember that ultimately, the creators don't owe us anything Panning or criticizing someone's work because it didn't measure up to the story "you" wanted isn't productive, especially when it leads to anger or harassment of the creator or other fans. And yes, that happens. A lot. A story can be evaluated independent of how it measures up to one's personal preferences. If a certain story isn't to your liking, that's ok.
Am I guilty of falling into one or all of these groups at different times? Yes. But there is a lot of Star Wars goodness out there. Something for everyone, but not everything for everyone. Let's love what we love and let others do the same. Not everything is for you. Or me. And that's ok.
Do you see yourself in any of these groups? I'd be curious to know!