The Bowcaster

For those of you not obsessed with Star Wars, the bowcaster is Chewbacca’s signature weapon.

Oh, before we go on, spoilers for The Force Awakens are below. Stop reading here if that’s a thing for you.




Cool. So, I went to see the new Star Wars movie, and I enjoyed it. If you want a more detailed opinion, I basically agree with most of the positive reviews like this one and this one.

There was one detail I haven’t seen mentioned, and I wanted to pick it apart, then reassemble it. And that’s the bit about Chewbacca’s bowcaster. Throughout the movie, we see Chewie shooting enemies and they go flying like they were kicked by a mule. This is important, because Kylo Ren gets shot at the end, which explains why he’s such a phenomenal enemy, continuing to fight after his stomach should have exploded.

But the scene that made me pause was much earlier, when Han asks Chewie if he can try out the bowcaster in the middle of a gun fight, and realizes what a kick-ass weapon it is (which was some necessary foreshadowing for the later Kylo Ren fight, as well as some nice character banter). But then I thought, “Han and Chewie have been together for a lot of years, and this was the first time he tries out Chewie’s weapon?” And I made a face like someone farted in an elevator.

But then I reminded myself of my own no-prize rant, so I chewed on the idea some more, and decided that Chewie must have recently acquired that particular bowcaster, which had a lot better recoil compensation, a fact that Han noticed during the battle, and asked Chewie about in the moment. Up until then, all of Chewie’s bowcasters must have had too much kick for Han to bother with.

“But then JJ should have shown us that in the movie!” a million voices whined out before falling silent. Well, yes and no. While it’s an interesting tidbit, it’s not entirely relevant to the plot (and JJ Abrams may have had a completely different, but equally tangential explanation, which was not integral to the story, so he shitcanned it for length and pacing.)

And here is the larger lesson for us writers and creators. It can be tempting, if not tortuous to try and satisfy every fan’s “5 whys” and including explanations for all, but it’s a fool’s quest. We’ll never satisfy every question, and we’ll end up creating a meandering, distracting, swampy mess with a story that’s in there somewhere, but damned if anyone can find it.

It’s better for us stay on target and stick to the details that keep the story rolling, build a character, or give the reader just enough backstory to stay entertained, but not confused.

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