The Force Awakens

So, today is kind of a big day.

If you’re like me, a child of Star Wars, this is the day you’ve been waiting for since the mid 80’s. I must admit, I was excited (and then ultimately disappointed) by the prequels, but nothing like the excitement in store for JJ’s take on Lucas’ world.

And what a world!

big queues then, big queues now

big queues then, big queues now

Since 1977 (when I was three), Star Wars has established itself as the dominant science fiction mythology on the planet. (Full disclosure: I do love my Star Trek universe, but it has my head while Star Wars owns my heart)

Star Wars has been a part of my life as a boy, a fan, and now a father.

But it’s biggest influence has been on my writing.

The very title METAWARS is a nod. There’s a scene early one in the first book (in the Icarus bird cage) that’s a deliberate tipping of the hat to the Cantina scene.  My new project, STAR PRESSED is a space faring romp in what Lucas and producer Gary Kurtz call a “used universe” (more on that later).   I use Star Wars as an example in my World Building seminars.

I thought I’d share the top five writing influences that Star Wars has on my writing, and that you can use in  your writing too:

1. World Building. As you know, I’m passionate about this, and you can read more here, but suffice it to say that Star Wars does world building better than anything else except perhaps JK Rowling. The story universe is fully thought through and consistent.

2. Hero’s Journey. Much (including many a PhD, I’m sure) on Lucas’ use of Joseph Campbell, but Star Wars presents the very essence of the call to adventure / return with bounty that Campbell calls the mono-myth, the story telling structure that’s dominated human storytelling since we were cavemen around the fire telling tales of leaving the cave, and returning with food or fur.

3. Point of View. Most people think Star Wars is Luke’s story. It’s not.  It’s the droids’.  R2 and C3PO are the main lens through which we view the adventure. They are there from start to finish and they are based on the bickering bureaucrats in Japanese samurai films.  POV is important and it doesn’t have to belong to your protagonist.

4. The Twist. Spoiler alert here…Darth is Luke’s daddy! When this was revealed in Empire, a thousand voices rang out basically saying…”what?!” It’s probably the best twist in cinematic history, rivalled only by (spoiler alert) that Bruce Willis is actually dead in The Sixth Sense.

5. Endings. Star Wars has a perfect ending. It’s what (Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine and originally TFA) screenwriter Michael Arndt calls “unforgettable.”  It fuses Luke’s inner journey (to believe in himself) with with outward journey (to defeat the Empire…or so he thinks).

So on this day, the general release of the new film, let’s take a moment to celebrate and recognise how this mega franchise can be channeled into stronger storytelling.


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