Friday, June 29, 2007


Yep, you read that right. Check out this article at Jive Magazine if you're curious. This is somewhat how I feel about the series (given the horrible prequel trilogy), although I love the entire original trilogy and think most of the video games are fine. I don't have any plans to read any of the books, though -- maybe someday I'll try one, if my reading list mysteriously shrinks to nothing and I can't think of anything else.

But really, I've noticed this for a long time: it seems like STAR WARS fans definitely adore the various ideas posited by the franchise, but hate how many parts of the stories actually progress and are executed. It's interesting to me, then, how enthralled so many are by the series if this is true. Perhaps this makes STAR WARS the ultimate "high concept" story, then, if this is true, because it is in fact so high concept that it can withstand any hackneyed story that is actually attached to it. Either way, there's something indefinably great about STAR WARS, and the feeling of magic and adventure it elicits is nearly unparallelled -- and yet so much of the "true believer" fans' reactions are still decidedly negative.

That's interesting, and also unfortunate. I think it boils down to plotting, personally, and a few bad choices in subject matter (Ewoks, Jar Jar Binks, Midichlorians, etc). Also it seems like internal consistency is often sacrificed for that which is most dramatic in the moment (see the JIVE article for good examples of this). These are mistakes that any writer would normally get castrated over by fans, and it's also the sort of thing that would probably keep a debut novel from making it into the market at all in today's publishing climate.

It's funny, because looking at STAR WARS can provide so many good lessons for writers on what not to do -- and yet at the same time, it has those indefinable qualities that we all strive for in our own writing (and which so few published books even accomplish). How does one create that sense of magic? Rich-yet-archetypal characters like Obi Wan, Darth Vader, Luke, Leia, Han, and Yoda? If people hate aspects of the writing so much, why is it that they still love these characters so much? Not to mention all the background of aliens, exotic planet locations, strange technology, and so on. How can a story frustrate and captivate people at the same time?

If you've been reading, thinking I have a suggested answer at the end, I apologize. I don't. My only hope is that I'm someday able to write something that captivates an audience in the way STAR WARS captivated me, and yet do so without frustrating them at the same time. Tall order. But that's why most of us write fiction, isn't it? Because we've been captivated by stories we've heard in the past, and we want to add our own voices to the mix in hopes of captivating other readers with our own new stories.

My list of books, movies, and even video games which have powerfully captivated me is hundreds long, and comprises many different reasons and ways in which I was captivated. I write because, having been touched this way by so many other works, I can't not. Each story I write energizes me with the hope that it will touch someone else in some meaningful, powerful way. I write because I can't not.

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