Everything I Know About Writing, I Learned From Star Wars

Star Wars Logo

Well, okay, maybe not everything. But with Episode 7 slated for release in December, and a few tantalizing trailer snippets whetting my appetite, I find myself revisiting my childhood obsession with all things Star Wars (Episodes 4-6, of course; we won’t speak of Eps 1-3). Here are a few important lessons learned in a galaxy far, far away:

  1. Princesses can be tough cookies. My only exposure to princesses at age ten was through Disney–Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty. Beautiful, delicate, downtrodden girls who needed a Prince Charming to save them. This was long before the tougher, more independent princesses of today, like Mulan, Elsa and Anna, or that chick from Brave. When Princess Leia grabbed her rescuer’s laser gun and said, “Into the garbage chute, flyboy!”, it was  a revelation.

    Princess Leia
    Royal badass. But with a heart.
  2. Every story needs a handsome rogue. Luke Skywalker’s journey from boy to man is the central focus of Star Wars, and I love him like, well, a brother. It was Harrison Ford’s wise-cracking, cynical Han Solo that set my young heart aflutter. We like you because you’re a scoundrel, Han. Even in his dotage, it’s Han Solo I’m most eager to see in Ep 7.

    Han Solo
    Remember this guy?
  3. Daddy issues are a rich vein to mine. Who can forget when Luke, broken and bleeding, finds out that Vader is his father? The loss of his hand is negligible compared to the loss of innocence our hero suffered on that parapet. His spiral down the mineshaft perfectly symbolized the flushing of his spirit down the toilet. Yet later, when the Emperor is killing him, it’s his father that Luke cries out to. I can’t describe the jolt of electricity that went through the theater when Vader lifted the Emperor and, in a clever reversal, threw him down a different shaft to save his son. Epic stuff!

    Luke and Vader
    I have a bad feeling about this…
  4. Everyone needs a higher power to believe in. Whether it’s the Force, love, or a common cause, characters need something bigger than themselves to fight for. When your home world is blown to bits, when you’re freezing to death on an ice planet, when you’re tortured and encased in carbonite, or otherwise hopeless and dejected, don’t give up. Fight the good fight.
  5. Never underestimate a good gimmick. If points 1-4 aren’t quite enough to produce a stellar story, you can always throw in some Ewoks. Just kidding. The Ewoks are a painfully embarrassing episode in an otherwise perfect space opera.

    Ewok
    Necessary?

Well, there you have it. My young mind imbibed these lessons like mother’s milk. Now, it seems no matter what novel I’m working on, there’s a tough chick, a handsome bad boy, plenty of daddy (or mommy) issues, and a world to save. But no Ewoks. I promise.

What about you? Are you a Star Wars fan? What lessons have you learned from the Jedi Masters? Leave a comment, and we’ll talk about it!

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