If you’re a nerd like me, this week has pretty special meaning. It’s not just that there’s a new Star Wars film coming, I mean after all, we’ve been more or less inundated with Star Wars related media non-stop for the past 20 years.
It’s more the fact that this is the first film sequel that connects directly to the original trilogy, featuring many of the same characters made infamous by those three unique films that captured our imaginations in the late 70s and early 80s.
The Hollywood premier for Episode 7 – The Force Awakens was this week, and already social media is lighting up with positive buzz, a fact that sends a flutter through the hearts of science fiction fanboys and fangirls everywhere.
There are many mixed opinions out there of Star Wars’ effectiveness as a film franchise, but I don’t think anyone can overstate how it impacting both merchandising and the structure of Hollywood film making. The original series of films was far from the first trilogy in cinema, but it became the first series that was actually developed as a trilogy, which made an effort to tell a singular story broken up over three separate films.
So how does this translate into being a writer?
Stephen King is infamous for saying that he never outlines, he pretty much writes by the seat of his pants.
Yeah, that doesn’t work for me. As someone who is in the midst of developing a trilogy, I can’t even fathom of a way to build that story without an outline. I must have a beginning and an end in mind in order to connect the dots, and while I admire guys like Stephen King, it’s just not something I’m mentally capable of. When I first developed the Operation: Harvest trilogy (with Part One on Amazon now and Part Two coming in January) I simply had to know how the story began and ended. I didn’t feel like I could adequately explore the character of William Strickland without knowing the ultimate end game. Is that disingenuous? Does that take away from the character if I know how his entire adventure unfolds? Remove some semblance of spontaneity?
Not in any way, shape or form, in my opinion. Just because I have an outline doesn’t mean I’m strictly regulated to follow it lock, stock, and barrel. I’ve already shifted a lot of things around, even though the core thread of the story remains intact.
I feel like the characters in the trilogy have room to grow, evolve, and change. Just because I know their beginning and end doesn’t somehow remove the trials and tribulations of the middle.
I see Star Wars the same way. It’s evident (to me at least) that not even Lucas himself knew what every adventure in his little corner of Hollywood was going to touch upon. Do you really think he thought Luke and Leia were related when he had them deep kissing in A New Hope? I certainly hope not.
But he knew their beginning, and I’d like to think he knew the ultimate end, and somehow, even with that already decided, there was room for some fun along the way. I only hope the same can eventually be said of my own work.