Star Words

Creating a good plot is one of the most difficult parts of writing. A perfectly plotted story is going to be snatched up by readers, but so far we seem to have only produced one of these plots that most fiction writing instructors can agree on, which is the one from the original Star Wars movie. But even writing instructors can get this wrong. I heard an instructor claim that if a person was having a hard time writing a synopsis for their book, they should examine his synopsis of Star Wars. If it wasn’t that simple to write, their problem was not the synopsis, but the plot of their book. 

That was a bold claim to make, and later I realized it was patently wrong. On close examination the problem is with the plot of Star Wars. Luke’s motivation was to save a beautiful girl who sent him a message for help. He also wanted to take revenge on the man who killed his father. But, the man Luke intended to destroy was his father. The beautiful girl that he loved at first sight, was his sister. That sort of made romance out of the question. The Jedi master, a wise old advisor, knew all of this and said nothing about it. Why?  This first movie was basically a novelette. It was not a real full-length novel that could include such a complicated subplot. After the exciting but lengthy battle scene in space to destroy the death star, the villain had to escape so the sequel could be made.

I realized the flaw in this logic during this writing teacher’s instruction on how to write a synopsis. I wanted to ask a question about it. I don’t think he wanted questions, because he said he’d get back to me, but he never did. Now, when any author advises me to consider this Star Wars movie when creating a plot for a novel I would say, think again. It actually took three movies to create a plot the length of a short fantasy novel. By the third one we saw Luke again helping get the princess out of trouble along with her new love interest (Han Solo, the trickster archetype). Then, they joined the forces with the cutest furry warriors that I’ve ever seen to bring down a second “death star.” Viewers noticed the repetition. Sometimes when asked about the third film, I heard, “It’s sort of the repeat of the first with Teddy bears.”  

My take away–a  synopsis is still going to be excruciating to write for a 80,000 to 100,000 word novel, provided it does not start dragging in the middle so that part can be eliminated from the synopsis. It is easier to write one for a novella, just as novellas can be easier to crank out using a set formula than novels are. Of course, it is possible to create the synopsis of the first three Star War movies in 750 words but it won’t sound as good, and repetition of actions will seem obvious when shown together. 

Then, I discovered the existence of a novelization of the Star Wars movie that was the size of an average book. It had additional scenes, and world building information with the new technology explained. I thought I would enjoy listening to the audio recording of this. However, all the inserted scenes and description just made it slow compared to the movie. So, I never finished listening to it.

This entry was posted in Creativity, Drama and movies, Story structure, Teaching writing skills, Writing trends. Bookmark the permalink.

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