From the newsletter: Bringing the force to your writing

2000px-Star_Wars_Logo“Fear is the path to the dark side.” -Yoda

“Don’t call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight glob of grease.” -C3PO

Dear Writers,

I saw the new Star Wars movie this week. And I LOVED it. And you will, too, because it is a GREAT STORY. With GREAT CHARACTERS. They want things that are important. And because of all these things, it offers us some great lessons!

NOTE: There will be NO SPOILERS here, but if you get nervous about these things, save this post for after you see the movie!

Star Wars Lesson #1: Beginnings must bring the intrigue.

From the moment the movie began, I knew I was in good hands. In the most economical way possible, the movie set the stage and excited the audience. The world was introduced. We felt grounded. But more important, intrigued!

The first line, page, and chapter are SO important. The beginning is our first glimpse. It’s an invitation. Whether part of a series or stand alone, it sets the table. Think about how your favorite movies start. A close up? A panoramic view? No matter what, a great beginning makes the reader ask questions. And turn the page.

WHAT IT DOES NOT DO: A great beginning does not cram in a lot of information. It does not explain. It forces us to stay where we are. In our seats. In books, we turn the page. We need to know more.

Star Wars Lesson #2: The best protagonists have flaws. The best antagonists are not all evil. It is literally that balance between the force and the dark side that makes a character INTERESTING. We see it in every character that matters.

Convinced your antagonist is all evil? DIG DEEPER.

Star Wars Lesson #3: Revealing backstory at JUST THE RIGHT MOMENT pays off. On this, I will say no more. Just trust me. If you’ve seen the movie, you know: we see the ramifications of the backstory in many, many ways. When it is fully revealed, it all comes together. Through the characters. Because of what they want.

Star Wars Lesson #4: Nothing wrong with a little well-timed humor.

Star Wars Lesson #5: The power of THREE has the power of the force. Throughout the movie, characters were connected in threes. They battled in threes. They teamed up in threes (or in one case, three people and a Wookie.)

Star Wars Lesson #6: That french horn. In all the original Star Wars movie, I loved Luke’s theme song, the lone horn. It’s automatic: when we hear the horn, we think of Luke. That horn amplifies our emotions–it makes us yearn. And anticipate what is yet to come.

So are you ready to stretch? (Or are you going back to the movies first?)

Can you apply the Star Wars Lessons to your own WIP?

Most of them probably seem obvious. Except maybe Number 6. How can we create the master effect of music in our writing?

First, we can look at syntax, the music of our prose. We can craft the language we use to enter and exit a chapter or a scene. Is your narrative musical? What happens if you add a word that surprises? Can you look at your scene (like a director) and find the details that make your scenes sing? Are you using the BEST WORDS POSSIBLE????

Then think about that horn.

Like the lone horn, images or objects can stand for certain characters, themes, or emotions. So can colors. Is there an object or color that reappears in your book–that stands for more than what it is and speaks to theme? Can you attach an emotion to it? A desire? Can you step away from the manuscript and see how that object/color appears and changes throughout the story? Can you insert it at key moments to add relevance and anticipation?

Next week, we’re writing goals!
Until then, happy holidays! Enjoy your families. If you can, get a little bit of writing done. Even five minutes a day counts!

xo sarah

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