How Star Wars Has Saved My Stories… Twice

All storytellers have stories that have inspired them and shaped the stories that they tell. Tolkien has been my largest influence for many reasons, but his works didn’t started my serious writing bug. It was actually Star Wars.

I was about twelve, and we spent a night watching Star Wars. I don’t remember how many times we had watched the original trilogy before then, but I know it wasn’t the first time. After all, I knew what was happening. (My brother and I the only people I know who were introduced to the original trilogy in reverse order because of their availability at Blockbuster. That was an experience!)

I don’t remember what it was about that night, but something about the story tickled my imagination in a way it never had before. Instead of going to sleep afterwards, I spent half the night writing a story. The first draft of my first novel.

The story has changed dramatically over the years — so much that they hardly share any similarities anymore — but it never would have happened without Star Wars.

Fast forward to now.

I’m still working on that nameless steampunk/fantasy/sci-fi novel, but I’ve hit a snag. The world of the protagonist just isn’t as compelling as it needs to be. Something is missing, but I haven’t been sure what it is. The writing has ground to a halt and thinking has taken over, but as much as I let the story brew in my mind, it just hasn’t been cooperating.

However, that has changed thanks again to Star Wars.

Though the universe in Rogue One is rather different than the one I’m working on, they both share one crucial thing: they are driven by causes that are fueled by hope. They have virtually no chance, but they’re trying anyways.

So far, this part of the world has been a quiet one. The wars are long over and they’re living with the aftermath, but the aftermath just isn’t that interesting in itself. It needs more conflict, and Rogue One has spawned just the ideas I’ve been looking for.

And thus I have Star Wars to thank for two stories. While its influence might not be evident in the finished product, I’ll always know it started with a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

What stories have influenced the stories that you tell?

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4 responses to “How Star Wars Has Saved My Stories… Twice

  • C.B. Wentworth

    Seriously, what would we do without Star Wars??? :-O

  • Anthony Lee Collins

    The thing about Star Wars is that it’s fairly recent (in storytelling terms), but it’s very classically constructed. The young hero, raised by people who aren’t his parents, with a destiny that he’s not aware of; the wise mentor; the cynical pragmatist; etc. It has, in that sense, a very solid foundation. This can lead to predictability, of course, but Shakespeare stole a lot of his plots, too. It’s what you do with it that counts.

    For me, I guess it’s two things. One is classic mysteries of the late 19th and early-mid 20th century — before the genre got divided up into a hundred sub-genres.

    The other is the movies of Robert Altman. His default position was to trust his actors (he used to say that once he started shooting he never looked at the script and usually didn’t even know where one was). When in doubt, I trust my characters. Let them start saying and doing stuff, and something interesting will happen.

    • S.B. Roberts

      It’s very true. Just before writing Star Wars, George Lucas read some Joseph Campbell. The classic monomyth/hero’s journey shows. It made it easier to explain to my students a few years ago for sure.

      Robert Altman’s method is intriguing. I did some film projects with some friends in the past, and the script was everything. That takes a lot of trust, and it proves a great point. Love it!

      • Anthony Lee Collins

        I have a friend who’s a Hollywood screenwriter, and he always gets a bit (uncharacteristically) hesitant when we talk about Altman. On one hand, he (my friend) has to acknowledge how good some of Altman’s movies are. On the other hand, those movies were made without, shall we say, excessive reverence for the script.

        He does really like The Player, since apparently it pretty exactly nails what the movie industry is like.

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