Sonic the what?

I recently had a chat with a fellow producer who produces audio drama based around Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction, and one of the questions I found myself having to ask is- “why bother?”

Now, this isn’t some slam against fanfic writers or furry fans (those will be other posts! [Just kidding!]) it’s about the question of the appearance of the characters. One of the key elements of the furry approach to stories is that all the characters are talking animal-people, which is fine but how do you translate that into a radioplay? I ran into a similar issue when I was thinking about the question of Aliens in Twin Stars- would I use aliens to add colour to the setting? The answer quickly came back- “why bother?”

Both aliens and furries are totally visual elements that are extremely difficult to convey in a radioplay unless you have a narrator in there describing everyone to the audience, which is fine but it comes around to the question of why they need to be aliens or furries in the first place. Without a narrator (which seems to be many producer’s preference) it becomes extremely hard to convey without using lots of silly voices and effects filters that may just leave the audience confused. (Or annoyed. Having the cat character say “meow” at the end of every sentence is cute and fine for a short show, but a whole series? And how can you expect the audience to take them seriously? (Assuming it’s a serious story.) “Why bother?”

I suppose if a producer wants his characters to be furries or aliens or pixies in his head that’s fine- the nice thing about audio is it really is the realm of the imagination! But they have to think through how they’re going to convey this to the audience, and whether the effort to convey that is worth it to them. In my case with Twin Stars I decided there are no aliens interacting with humanity and that the cast would be humans (or humaoids) for the most part. Like most things, it comes down to choosing your battles and deciding where you want to focus your energies. Twin Stars is a character-driven space opera, so whether there are aliens or not is pretty irrelevant in audio form. However, if I were doing like the other producer and focussing on furry characters for my own reasons then maybe I would make the effort if it was important enough to me.

3 thoughts on “Sonic the what?

  1. I can see what you mean – in a non-visual medium, furries and aliens don’t make for the same sort of splash of colour that they would in tv or film, so there may well be no need for them.

    At the same time though, if the writer does want to involve them, the way they look may well have an impact on their own character and the way that characters around them respond. In that way, they can have a ‘visual’ dimension.
    In the example of Sonic the Hedgehog that may well not matter. But thinking about a hedgehog character interacting with others, their spines could well be a barrier to them forming relationships. If they were also clumsy, maybe they could injure people around them. In battle situations, their curling up in a ball could cause their comrades frustration & resentment. etc. etc. The hedgehog is not a great example & I’m certainly not saying that’d be spectacularly entertaining drama or anything 😛 but I think there’s an argument for aliens and furries in audio drama contributing to character conflict and relations IF the writer wants to put them in, even in a character-driven drama.

  2. Which is why I made my comment about choosing your battles and what’s important to you. 🙂

    I agree, you can have a lot of fun with unusual/non-human characters and convey the effects of their differences within a story. Audio really is an unlimited form, and how you want to bend and twist that form is up to you. That said, it takes effort, and whether you consider that effort to be worth it to you or not is the question a writer needs to ask themselves. Every element you bring into a story should be there for a reason, and have consequences to the story you’re writing- including the character’s appearances. So there needs to be a reason why the character is a hedgehog and it needs to affect the story in some way or else why do it at all?

    Rob

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