4 Important Considerations In Planning Your Story (What Every Author Can Learn From The Phantom Menace)

Planning Your Story: What George Lucas Can Teach You (Not) to Do

4 Important Considerations In Planning Your Story (What Every Author Can Learn From The Phantom Menace)There are great mysteries in this life. Who shot JFK? How were the pyramids built? What happened to George Lucas? And what does this have to do with you planning your story?

I admit it: I waste way too much of my life puzzling over the conundrum of George Lucas. There’s a lot to think about when it comes to the man.

He was brilliant. He was beloved. He was a visionary writer and director.

And then 1999 arrived. Hurricane Ani* hit. And George became one other thing: a cautionary tale to storytellers everywhere.

(*”Ani” is Darth Vader’s adorable nickname in case you were lucky enough to have forgotten.)

I was thirteen when Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out, too young to fully appreciate how egregious it was. But I remember the night my parents, longtime Star Wars fans, came home from seeing it in its opening week. My mom’s expression was full of disappointment as she shook her head and tactfully said it “wasn’t very good” (my dad had mimicked Jabba’s good example and fallen asleep during the pod race).

Even Jabba the Hutt fell asleep since George was so bad at planning his story.

For better or worse, these days I do appreciate how bad Episodes I-III are–to the point that every time I watch so much as a clip from Phantom Menace, I’m inspired to do a Master Class on how not to write plot, characters, and dialogue. Problem with that (other than copyright issues) is that I’d actually have to sit through all 136 excruciating minutes of it.

Where George Lucas Went Wrong in Planning His Story

I am enduringly, almost compulsively, fascinated by the question of: What went wrong?

How does a brilliant and visionary director go from creating arguably (and you can put an “in-” in front of that, for my money) the most significant and beloved movie ever–to creating what I would generously call “what you’d get if you gave the high school art department a budget of $115 mil.”

I may not be able to sit through a viewing of the original trilogy, but recently I did watch the extensive behind-the-scenes featurettes for Phantom Menace.

My chief reaction is actually one of deep compassion for George Lucas. He’s so happy in those featurettes, so full of hope for sharing his new stories, so excited to be returning to his beloved galaxy. And… his audience (quite reasonably, but still sadly) threw it back at him like a toddler who got socks for Christmas.

Where did George Lucas go wrong in planning his story?

As an artist myself, I know how much that hurts. George Lucas didn’t intend to create something as awful as he did. He didn’t want to disappoint fans. He wanted to please us, wanted to give us more of the delights of the original trilogy. When it all went wrong and people not only hated his movies, but started hating him, that had to be insanely rough.

That’s what my compassion says about George Lucas.

My story sense, however, is a little more logical. My story sense says there are four concrete reasons why George’s idealistic vision for his new movies got in his way, destroyed his credibility as a storyteller, and landed him and all his fans in this great big mess.

Fortunately, we, as writers, can learn from his mistakes to avoid ending up in the same stew. Turns out every major problem in The Phantom Menace and its sequels could have been avoided by applying a little judicious foresight in planning the story.

Let’s take a look at the four things you absolutely must consider in planning your story in order to avoid poor George’s fate.

Planning Your Story, Step 1: Understand Your Audience

Writing is a delicate balance. You should be writing, first and foremost, according to your own vision for work. But, at the same time, if you want to be successful commercially, you have to at least be aware of your audience and their expectations and desires for your work.

Where George Went Wrong:

George forgot that his primary audience was his cadre of raving fans from twenty years ago. He failed to write his prequels for those fans, then in their 40s. Instead, perhaps inspired by his own young family, he wrote a story for children. Gone were the adult characters dealing with complex adult problems. Instead, he gave us an impossibly innocent eight-year-old boy. Gone was the snarky, ironic, grown-up humor of Han Solo. In its place, he gave us the bumbling, juvenile slapstick of Jar Jar Binks.

Jar Jar Binks Star Wars Phantom Menace

None of these things were what the original audience loved so fanatically. None of these things were what they wanted. The inevitable result? That disappointed look on my mother’s face.

How You Can Get It Right:

Whatever your opinions of the recent (George-less) Star Wars installment The Force Awakens, you at least have to recognize that J.J. Abrams and crew deliberately did what George didn’t: they went back to the source material and gathered up every single element that they knew the audience loved and appreciated.

why-the-force-awakens-is-only-a-remake-of-a-new-hope-a-new-hope-forces-awakening-926882

You must be aware of the audience you’re writing for. Christian audiences won’t appreciate crude language. Military thriller audiences don’t want long, mushy romantic subplots. Adult audiences don’t want to be treated like children.

Audience awareness is especially important when you’re writing a sequel. Readers fell in love with your first book. Not only do they want more of the same, but they have their own ideas for how the story should progress. If those ideas are violated too violently, they will reject your vision in place of their own. This isn’t to say you should ever sacrifice your own vision, but, at the least, you need to consider how that vision is going to affect and be received by your readers.

Planning Your Story Step 2: Understand Your Source Material

It’s an interesting irony that sometimes a story’s fans end up understanding the story better than the creator. I’ve written before about how you want your readers to essentially become your “co-writer,” in the sense that they start filling in blanks with their imaginations. You want them to make the story their own. Ideally, this means they’re going to obsess about it as much (possibly even more) than you do. That’s a good thing, but it also makes your job of understanding your own story even more important.

Where George Went Wrong:

An objective comparison of the original Star Wars trilogy and the prequel trilogy reveals a shocking number of discrepancies. Fans have to work overtime to make the prequel story of Anakin Skywalker fit with the facts we were told in the original trilogy. (For example, Obi-Wan’s whole “I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Yoda. I was wrong” doesn’t jive at all with his reluctance to accept Qui-Gon’s dying wish that he “train the boy.”)

Qui-Gon's Death

Never mind the fact that the two trilogies look like they’re happening in completely different galaxies. Or that Darth Vader literally had a personality transplant.

If you can think back to the old days, before you saw the prequels, then you no doubt had a very different sense for what Luke and Darth Vader’s backstory must be. We can only conclude that George either a) didn’t understand his original trilogy as well as the rabid fans who studied it inside out, or b) didn’t care about the inconsistencies he was blithely creating. Whatever the cause, the prequels suffered greatly from the general incoherence.

How You Can Get It Right:

Understand your story. This goes doubly for books within a series, where you must concentrate on creating consistent arcs and details. But it applies even to standalone books. Before you start writing your book, you should understand the causal motivations in the story’s beginning that will create its ending.

Subtext–the space between the lines in your story–is one of your most powerful weapons. But it only works if you wield it with knowledge. It’s not enough to create blank spaces in your story; you have to understand exactly what’s in those blanks, even if you never blatantly show readers.

Planning Your Story, Step 3: Understand Your Thematic Arc

In so many ways, theme is story. This is the point of your story. As Plot Whisperer Martha Alderson said in the October 2004 issue of Writer’s Digest:

The theme is the “why”—your reason for writing the story….

If you don’t understand this about your story, then you don’t understand your story.

Where George Went Wrong:

Honestly, I think if George had gotten this one right, I would have forgiven him all the other major bloopers. But he didn’t. The prequels are the story of the fall of Darth Vader. On a purely thematic level, the arc is impressive, moving, tragic. It had the potential to be powerful stuff.

What it’s not is the righteous Hero’s Journey of Luke Skywalker. It’s still a story with the potential to be every bit as influential and memorable, but it is a story of darkness. As such, to tap the power of truth at its core, it needed to be presented in a way that fearlessly maximized that darkness–so that the light of Luke’s story could shine all the brighter.

Luke Skywalker Looks at His Hand After Dueling Darth Vader

To my eternal sorrow, that isn’t what George gave us. He gave us a story about innocent children, whiny teenagers, young love, idealistic politics, cool action, gorgeous special effects, weak character motivations, and weaker humor. I keep imagining what an actor like Tom Hardy or Christian Bale could have done with the role of Anakin Skywalker–the inner darkness that could have been tapped, the wrenching pain of fallen humanity that could have been shared, the subtlety of tortured expression that could have been shown.

Instead, we get a fractured story arc that tries to be light, happy, and fun for the first three-quarters before taking an abrupt and inconsistent turn into unconvincing personal corruption. It’s a powerful story wasted–and that’s the saddest thing of all about Anakin Skywalker’s fall from grace.

How You Can Get It Right:

Ask yourself right now: What kind of story are you telling? What is your character’s arc? Where does he find himself at the end of the story? What fundamental thematic Truth is your story positing? Whether you’re writing a tragic corruption arc or a fun love story, you need to be aware of that decision in every word you write.

This doesn’t mean dark stories can’t have moments of humor and happy stories can’t have moments of darkness. But it does mean every single piece of the story must be chosen to support the overall thematic arc.

Whatever subject you’ve chosen, tell it fearlessly. If you’re writing a dark story, you must be willing to embrace the darkness–not laugh your way around the corners. Whatever Truth is at your theme’s heart, you must be willing to explore it to its depths.

If you don’t know your theme, then you won’t understand how to construct a plot and character arc that will support it. And, by the same token, if you don’t know how to find your theme, you can start by looking right there at the intersection of your plot and your characters.

Planning Your Story Step 4: Understand How to Execute Your Story With Finesse

Once you have finished planning you story with the three above big-picture elements in mind, you then have to focus on actually executing them within the nitty-gritty, page-by-page prose of your story. Understanding your story’s audience, intent, and theme will give you the foundation for something great. But readers won’t care unless you give them a minute-by-minute experience that masterfully unfolds the story before their imaginations.

Where George Went Wrong:

This is the one that really puzzles me. George goes from being a great filmmaker in the original trilogy to making one of the shoddiest films I’ve ever seen come out of Hollywood.

I won’t even get into the film-specific aspects such as the mind-numbing editing. But I’d be remiss not mention the flat, on-the-nose dialogue in every single scene. Or the character motivations that span the gamut from nonexistent to just plain stupid. Or, as Aaron McCausland astutely pointed out in his Story Structure Database submission for Attack of the Clones, “Anakin’s story becomes a subplot,” for the entirety of the first two movies.

Attack of the Clones Anakin Skywalker Obi-Wan Kenobi Duel Count Dooku

The lesson to be learned here? Even being a genius doesn’t give you a free pass when it comes to the basics of good storytelling. If George Lucas can’t get away with it, you and I surely can’t.

How You Can Get It Right:

You’re already on the right track. You’re reading this blog, which means you’re committed to studying the craft and improving your skill in understanding and applying the fundamental tenets of the craft:

In order to create a story that affects readers to the utmost of its ability, you must be executing all of these vital techniques with subtlety, deftness, and finesse. Some of that takes practice, but largely, it’s all a matter of understanding how they work and being aware of how you’re applying them on every page of your book.

Why George Lucas Should Continue to Inspire You

For me, George Lucas remains an inspiration.

I learn from what he did so, so right in the original trilogy, just as I learn from what he did wrong in The Phantom Menace and the other prequels.

Beyond that, he continually inspires me to remain vigilant in never resting on my past successes, never believing that just because I wrote one good story, I will automatically and effortlessly write another one.

May he inspire you, as well, in using these four all-important steps as a foundation in planning your story, so you can keep your vision for your story firmly aligned with its best interests.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! In planning your story, what are you most concerned about getting right? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Yammers, I can feel your pain in this one. That just goes to show you can get a slamdunk on one play, then chuck an airball on the next possession. If we write a good one we can most definitely write a bad one. What goes up must come down. It’s kind of intimidating. But that’s how we learn I suppose.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I think a little humility and awareness goes a long way. If you have good awareness of your own strengths and weaknesses, and have a system of honest and trustworthy critique in place, then you’ll have a lot of safety nets to catch you before you crash and burn in public.

      • Joe Long says

        I have published a fair amount of technical articles, both online and two as part of a book. In my field, we don’t have the classic peer review of a small number of people reading the piece before publication. Instead, I’ve learned to ‘write and duck’ as I know I’ll be getting instead feedback not just from web comments like these but also on sites were my peers gather to picker apart everything written by each other, and where I often have to go to defend my work. It does help one develop a great deal of humility.

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          Hah. I think “write and duck” applies even when you’ve had peer review and even (especially?) when you’re writing fiction. It’s just a good motto for writers everywhere!

  2. Kate Flournoy says

    Excellent breakdown. I haven’t seen any of the prequels (my parents said they were too horrifyingly stupid to bear watching, and they’re almost as snobby when it comes to literature and movies as I am 😉 ) but every single point in this article is perfectly valid in my writing experience alone. Thank you for the amazing thoughts! I didn’t realize there were other people out there who enjoyed breaking things down like this as much as I do… 😀

    • Wow, I had no idea how badly people thought of these. I feel sorry for Mr. Lucas. This shows how serious people take their stories.

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

        @Benjamin: Yes! So often I think battered authors think, “Yeesh, it’s just a story.” But we, more than anyone, should understand that it’s *not.* Stories are tremendously personal affairs. Once we hand them over to the public, our stories become theirs and we bear a heavy responsibility to not betraying that gift.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Sometimes I wish my parents had saved me as well. :p

  3. Thank you for this post. I am finishing the second part in my Christmas story, The Christmas Gate. The first book should be released by the publisher sometime late summer or early fall. When the second part is done, I have to get back to my trilogy, Archomai. This post has given me great insight not to go at it haphazardly. In the fantasy world you can do about anything and make up anything. However, it has to be believable. Thanks again, I tucked this post away with the other you have written for, “Instructional Refreshing.”

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “Not to go at it haphazardly” is, I think, a great way to put it. Stories are complicated. Making them work takes understanding and skill, as well as talent. If we realize that, going in, it not only guides us to making the story better, but, in some ways, it also releases some of the pressure of relying on sheer talent (which, honestly, seems pretty ephemeral for all of us, at times).

  4. Yeah, it can be a real two-sided coin when you collect a fanbase like that of Star Wars. Some extreme passion goes into your work, and if you cross them, you and everybody else will hear about it.

    Look at the reviews about the Hobbit trilogy compared to the Lord of the Rings… (although Peter Jackson gets a pass in my mind if you understand that he took over mid-production from another director and had not enough time to fix all the gigantic errors). The errors in the Hobbit trilogy closely reflect what you describe here with Star Wars.

    I agree and appreciate your take here, Katie. Learn from both what went right and what went wrong, here. Really, just always try and learn. Of course, it’s made much easier with such a great instructor.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      We all *want* to evoke that kind of passion in our readers. But it’s worthwhile to understand it’s a two-edged sword. It’s kinda like fame. We tend to view it as the pinnacle of success–and yet it comes with lots of downsides. So it’s not that we don’t want to seek that kind of passion in our readers, but we also have to accept the potential hazards that come with it.

  5. Woo boy. I was a little girl in the 80’s, and I experienced the 1st trilogy when my brother and I browsed the VHS tapes in the living room. We put in A New Hope and saw that it was Episode IV. We stopped the tape.

    “Dad, where’s Episode I, II, and III?”

    “They don’t exist.”

    Still true. Still very, very true 🙂

    As I’m writing a trilogy I’ve looked at structural analyses of the first Star Wars trilogy, for structuring my overall arc. But I’ve read things over the years about “The Fall of George Lucas.” In the end, I think he’s an object lesson in the value of editors and beta readers.

    The first trilogy had the input of great writers and editors who understood the space opera / planetary romance genre (and good storytelling in general). Leigh Brackett wrote planetary romance and space opera decades before she wrote the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back. You’ll recognize the scene on the first page of her script.

    Others have pointed out that Lucas’ first wife was instrumental in shaping the first movies into what they became. In case we can’t have too many links, I’ll say the story is at an Australian site, news.com.au, and it’s titled “The ‘secret weapon’ behind Star Wars”:

    “Marcia, along with many of George’s friends, critiqued which characters worked, which ones didn’t, which scenes were good, and Lucas composed the script in this way …”

    And,

    “She warned George, ‘If the audience doesn’t cheer when Han Solo comes in at the last second in the Millennium Falcon to help Luke when he’s being chased by Darth Vader, the picture doesn’t work.’”

    She was literally Lucas’ editor on those early movies. But when Return of the Jedi came out they divorced …

    Someone else, I forget who, talked Lucas out of having a family of 10 royals sneaking around the Death Star and just going with a single princess, Leia. I got the idea that Lucas was great at ideas, but needed someone to reign him in.

    I feel bad for Lucas, too. But he’s a key reason I diligently searched for first readers. I shall pray I never have the hubris to forego them!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I definitely concur with this. There’s a reason Marcia won an Oscar for editing.

      Also, you just answered a question that’s been niggling at me for years! As someone who has no detailed memory of the original trilogy prior to its re-release, I’ve always wondered if A New Hope was called “Episode IV” right from the start. Mystery solved!

      • It was not called anything other than Star Wars in the original theatrical run. No one thought it would do more than barely break even. After it became the highest grossing film of all time (not adjusted for inflation)…
        I have zero sympathy for Lucas. Since the time of the originals, he has expressed nothing but arrogance over his creation. The chief among these to me, is Greedo shooting first. If Han doesn’t shoot first, demonstrating that he will do ANYTHING to escape a hairy situation, then how can you cheer when he changes his mind and shoots Darth Vader into deep space? He’s like the Dutch guy who bought Manhattan, transported to modern day New York, furiously transforming it to his original vision, a 17th century village.
        Plus he ruined Indiana Jones. So there’s that.

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          And is back for another go at Indy, or so I hear.

          • Usvaldo DeLeon says

            Somehow George was uninvited for this next goround. I’m sure his invite just got lost in the mail. ?
            But all snark aside, Star Wars is like winning a championship. No matter how bad one may be in their later career, that championship can never be taken away.

            At least that’s what I think when I’m feeling charitable..

          • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

            I agree with that. Success and failure are independent achievements. One does not negate the other.

      • I saw it when it first came out. It said “Episode IV.”

        I don’t think I saw a re-release.

        I have read that Lucas planned a nine-parter from the beginning.

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          Yeah, I’ve heard about the nine-parter thing as well. I wonder if they’ve used any of his ideas for the new trilogy.

  6. I should add — because I’ve been concerned about nailing the structure of a trilogy, I’ve found your outlining posts helpful, too. The first book fits into the beats of the first act, the second book should hit the notes of the second act, and so on. It’s arcs within one great arc, and another thing Lucas missed with the second trilogy.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Great to hear you’ve found them useful! I’m actually just now embarking on the second book of my first trilogy (of which my portal fantasy Dreamlander was the first book). So I’m sure I’ll be learning and posting quite a bit on the subject in the future.

    • wait, what beats? You mean the first book’s midpoint is a First Plot Point for the trilogy’s arc? Then how do the first book’s FPP and SPP fit into the trilogy’s arc?

    • Okay, Rod, apologies in advance for the length:

      To be clear, all of the parts of a trilogy will have three acts in themselves. But each book should fulfill the purposes of their corresponding acts.

      Act I, the first book or movie in a trilogy should: introduce protagonist, hook the audience, and setup the *trilogy’s* FPP. It would also be the book where the theme is introduced. Everything that happens in the rest of the trilogy should be set in motion here; this is where the stakes are established.

      In “A New Hope,” this is where we meet the core characters. We learn of the Jedi, the evil empire, and Alderaan is destroyed.

      The ending of book one is like the FPP of the trilogy because it sets up conflict. Sure, the rebels destroy the Death Star, but Vader is still alive.

      Act II, the second *book* in a trilogy: Changes the playing field and has the characters responding to the events of the first book (Act 1). The stakes are raised, and mysteries should start getting solved. This is often the darkest part because the bad guys are closing in.

      In ESB, the characters narrowly escape Vader. Luke goes to Dagobah to get a new mentor to replace the one Vader killed in ANH’s midpoint. Meanwhile, Han and Leia are surrounded by the Lie’s tentacles. Han is taken prisoner (all is lost moment). The end, which is act III of ESB but the second plot point of the trilogy, has Luke lose a hand but gain a father …

      The second book’s midpoint is the trilogy’s midpoint, and the ending of the second book is the trilogy’s SPP, where the characters get information they will need to deal with in book three, Act III.

      Act III, the third *book* (or movie) in a trilogy, is where everything comes to fruition. This is where the bad guys start going down, and the good guys start winning. In RotJ, the characters reunite and defeat Jabba, Luke comes into his powers, and Leia and Han resolve their UST (unresolved sexual tension) subplot. In RotJ, Luke deals with his father and finally overthrows the empire.

      … aaannnnd after writing all of this I’ve finally re-found the page that has visual aids of what I’m talking about, http://actfourscreenplays.com/screenwriting-blog/trilogy-building-halo-and-star-wars/ The bottom of that post has links that further explore this.

      I hope it helps!

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

        Yup, Jamie said that so well, I have nothing to add.

        • Thanks! I’ll look forward to any posts you do about trilogies in particular. I’m looking for doses of sanity to keep my nerves steady as I write mine 🙂

  7. Joe Long says

    Ooh, tell us what you really think!

    My son, who it turns out is almost exactly your age, loves movies and was a Star Wars fan…and he has on several occasions explained the failures of this trilogy to me.

    This piece of your is more on the macro level, and I don’t have many specific comments to offer yet. Something I did think of when you mentioned being aware of the audience are a couple of serials I read online as each chapter is released. The one has a forum where we can discuss the story as it’s published. There are maybe a half dozen of us who deliver in depth analysis of what’s happened already and what’s logically to come. It’s not quite beta reading, but gives the author assistance for planning future chapters.

    And, I did put a George Lucas joke in my story, which is set in 1979. He’s a Star Trek fan, she’s Star Wars. The go to the movies to see “More American Graffiti”. He thinks it’s a hot mess and she quips, “Are you saying George Lucas can’t make a good sequel?” (I did rewatch it on Amazon, taking notes, and that was my honest opinion.)

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Hah! Your joke would have made me laugh if I’d been reading it. 😀

      • Joe Long says

        I just had an LOL moment, watching a missed episode of “Elementary” from a few weeks back. A person who went around dressed as a comic book character to fight neighborhood crime was found dead. Sherlock gets ahold of and starts reading the entire 80 year run of the comic. He tells Watson, “The Midnight Ranger has died no less than five times, in very imaginative ways…my personal favorite being pushed off a waterfall in the embrace of his nemesis!”

  8. I am writing a novel series where a young girl named Molly gets out of foster care at 16 and lives with her long lost aunt and uncle. Her aunt and Uncle live with their employers and long time friends Claudette and Malcolm. The first two novels will be about Molly growing and living as a teenager.

    I then got a wild idea (it came from left field) that Claudette would die and 20-year-old Molly would fall in love with Malcolm. The next few books would be about Malcolm and Molly’s relationship. I mentioned this plot point to my friends and they said the readers would not like this. They would be repulsed by Molly being in a relationship with the much older Malcolm. Should I forget this idea? Is this a bad way for the story to go?

    • I wonder if my reading audience would hate the change in novel style. My writing buddy said that my story would go from a YA novel to a Romance novel; and that I would lose my original audience.

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

        Ah, I do think if you’re writing YA, that would have a bearing. I doubt many publishers are going to be interested in spring/winter relationships for YA fiction.

    • If your character is undergoing such changes this would probably be a saga, I think. The closest analog I can think of is the original VC Andrews books. The first three books in her Casteel series went from Heaven’s adolescence, early womanhood, then her adulthood after she marries her childhood sweetheart. The fourth was about her daughter, and the fifth was about her mother (and technically Heaven’s origin story).

      You’d have to alert readers the series is a saga from the get-go, and incorporate it in your structure. Often VC’s first books would start with the protagonist looking back on her life. The readers knew she wouldn’t stay 12.

      As to reader reaction to the romance? Depends on Malcolm’s age, and Molly’s nature. Is she more mature than her peers? She may not relate to people her age. Or is she looking for a father-figure (is Malcolm 40?) and she mistakes that for romantic love? It may help if her relatives aren’t that old themselves. In my family it wasn’t unusual for an aunt or uncle to grow up with her/his niece and nephews. That scenario could give wiggle room for Malcolm’s age.

      Re: your audience — if today’s young people hate May-December romances they may bail if the story seems to endorse it. Check out KM’s post from last month on How To Control Reader Reactions To Character Sins for ideas on retaining reader sympathy.

      Good luck!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Are your friends telling you *their* honest opinions and desires for the series (in which case, they’re definitely worth listening to)? Or are they trying to guess what other people would want (in which case, their opinions are probably no more or less valid than your own)?

  9. Great post! The weird thing about the Star Wars prequels is that while I don’t like them, most of the kids I know do. They love Jar Jar, and their favorite character is General Grievous. I guess it comes down to the knowing-your-audience thing?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Truthfully, when I first saw Phantom Menace at age 13, I ate it up. It *works* as a kids’ movie. Problem is it wasn’t and should never have tried to be a kids’ movie. If he’d wanted to make the original trilogy that way, fine. But the *fall* of Darth Vader? Nuh-huh.

  10. A fascinating analysis. I wonder how independent George Lucas was able to be in his writing of the prequels. Films are often the resultant output from a gamut of creative inputs, so maybe he listened to too many voices.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I get the feeling he was utterly independent. For the first time in his career, he didn’t have to listen to the concerns of studio heads or anyone else. He wrote Phantom Menace‘s script all by himself, unlike New Hope, which was scripted by Lawrence Kasdan. So I’d have to say the problem was just the opposite: he had (or took) no legitimate feedback from objective outside sources.

  11. As Lee Child once said: It doesn’t matter how well you cook, what matters is how hungry your guests are. Below is the link to 1999 top 20 movies, each and every of them became a timeless paragon of moviemaking and storytelling.
    http://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?view2=worldwide&yr=1999
    Tough competition, huh?
    Viewers were really spoiled by the choice back then. People were simply torn between best of the best. Now, spectators are so hungry, they are ready to devour everything thrown on the table. Speaking of “force awakens”, namely the hardcore fans were appalled by what they did to they franchise, which now looks and feels no better than any episode of “Xena-warrior princess”

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yeah, I was just commenting to someone yesterday that it’s seemed like ages since Hollywood has put out something that I really loved. Even the scores aren’t as good as they used to be.

  12. I may be wrong but the real downfall was caused by the change of technology. The prequels’s galaxy was more adanced in technology – on both sides of the camera. I honestly believe the phantom menace would be less of a menace if the movie was created the same way the original trilogy.

    And besides… every plot twist in the prequels was as obvious as a shouted out telephone punch. We all knew from the begining that Qui gon Jin wasn’t going to teach little Ani.

    • Joe Long says

      Also, as you point out, we already knew how it ends.

      The family is going to see “Captain America: Civil War” in a couple hours, so last night my wife and I watched “Winter Soldier” in order to know all of the previously revealed backstory. After the movie, I rewatched the episode of “Agents of SHIELD” who’s events happened at the same time as the movie and was shown four days later on TV.

      In the movie, Nick Fury tells Steve Rogers to “trust no one” but soon we find that Hydra operatives are attacking SHIELD from within and Robert Redford is the chief villain.

      On TV, Agent Coulson’s team knows nothing of what is going on when they are under attack and no one answers their calls. It was truly terrifying the first time I watched it. Victoria Hand. John Garrett. Friend or foe. And the truly stunning moment, Grant Ward’s heal turn.

      Two seasons later we’ve watched Ward be the show’s most hated man. Watching the episode again, none of the drama remains. I already know he turns bad.

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

        The inevitability of Anakin’s fall was definitely a detraction for the prequels. I think Lucas could still have pulled it off, since most tragedies include that inevitability at some point anyway, but it definitely made his job all the harder.

        • I beg to disagre o the basis of what I’ve learned in here.
          Vader was a hero swayed by The Lie, and thus his redemption was possible.Litle Ani was created by The Truth, and was destined to be the chosen one, Yet he accepted the emperor’s Lie all too easily.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      The prequels were gorgeous, I’ll give them that. But like so many others, I agree that the shininess ultimately lacked the realism and heart of the grungier originals.

    • Thrice great Hermes says

      The technology wasn’t more advanced we were no longer following,the poor and the desperate on the fringes of the galaxy.

      The one time that we were in a civilized area during the OT , Cloud city on Besbin. Cloud City’s upper levels were sleek,clean,curving and art nouveau, the city I dare say wouldn’t look out of place in the PT.

  13. WOW, you really know your George Lucas movies! I’m glad you’ve returned to loving George. The man is epic: Star Wars, Indiana Jones. Good heavens, the man even wrote American Graffiti. Amazing.

    I ADORED the first three movies (that George then made Episodes 4-6…THAT alone should’ve told him he was off). I only saw the first prequel, hated it and refused to see the others. I’m glad in VII, they brought back the core characters and can’t wait to learn more about the new ones (who were awesome).

    In the beginning of my stories, I just don’t want to suck. I want a compelling beginning, middle and end. I have to remind myself that writing happens in layers. Great post, KMW! Thanks.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I think the story of George Lucas, the man, is tremendously compelling. So many mega-geniuses seem so far above the humble rest of us. But Lucas’s failures have humanized him, and they offer tremendous lessons to the rest of us–ones I think we would have missed had he never faltered. So I appreciate that from him, even though I’m sorry he had to endure it.

  14. It was laughably cringe-inducing that this was the blog that popped into my mailbox after I just spent a week doubling back to fix a horrendous oversight in my story. Not noticing it until I hit a point when it became extremely relevant was my ‘hand meet lightsaber – this is what cocksure looks like’ moment. I am not a hardcore outliner. I have some major bullet points that I know I need to meet and in what order, keep a vague concept/notes on various aspects of subplots but MOST of my note-taking is tied up in my research. (I do a level of research that should probably be addressed in therapy.) So… while I am glad I am still in my first draft stages, that these first draft chapters are being posted to Patreon for paying patrons who now are blinking at me as I inform them…”oh, yeah… I kind of have this entire subplot that I have to insert into the past, uh… eight chapters. No really, it IS that important.” NOT GOOD.

    So…planning. Yes. Important.

    The arrival of this blog… kind of a refresher on some of these things. And while you touched on it, I would definitely emphasize not to lose track of your sub-plots, especially if they do come into contact with the main plot in a significant fashion. No one likes dangling ends. I hate when I finish a book or a movie and I’m left wondering what happened to Person A and B and that super dangerous thing they were about to do that we then never saw. (In my case, no dangling ends, just inadvertently turned a handful of women into Women in a Fridge… which I am NOT okay with, so…fixed that pronto.)

    As for Lucas. The Empire Strikes Back is the first film I remember seeing in the theatre, and it had a profound impact on me. (He didn’t write that one though.) From a very young age I wanted to pursue film, even named my first film camera “Lucas.” So when the new trilogy came out, I had similar disquiet at seeing them. At the time, it was difficult for me to articulate my reasons, but I think you spelled them out rather well. The Original film and ESB are still to this day big inspirations, and while my writing leans more in the Blade Runner/Phillip K Dick end of the Sci-Fi spectrum (I hope) I still love to have those operatic moments that he was so good at. The drama of it.

  15. I’ve never seen Star Wars, but George Lucas sounds a lot like Peter Jackson.
    Jackson practically invented all the fantasy movie tropes that we see everywhere; and I think he did an excellent job with The Lord of the Rings. There are definitely a lot of things that annoy me about LotR, but the movies themselves, as movies, are great. Then he makes … The Hobbit. Three movies of non-existant characterization, horrible on-the-nose dialogue, sequence after sequence of video game-style violence relying almost solely on CGI and adding nothing to the ‘plot’, dangling plot threads everywhere, clumsy throwbacks to LotR, and Orlando Bloom.
    It’s enough to make you go crazy. I think a lot of it has to do with the huge success of the earlier films; Jackson just got careless and conceited. He thought that anything, no matter the quality, would please fans. And, apparently, a lot of people somehow liked The Hobbit movies. But they were awful, not just as book adaptations but as stories.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Like George and his prequels, I also think part of the problem there was that a one-episode story got stretched out for the sake extra bucks.

  16. Okay, sue me, but I like Episode I. I know it has issues. I know it doesn’t have a clear protagonist. And I know Jar Jar is one of the worst characters ever created. But I like the story. And yes, I like the podrace. I’m not using it as instruction on how to write a good story certainly, but I enjoy it as a movie.

    Also, I like Episode III. (II is horrible, in my humble opinion.) More than the movie, I love Matthew Stover’s novelization of it. He revamps the dialogue, writes in gorgeous, haunting prose, and strengthens the characters’ motivation. If you saw the potential in that movie, you should definitely read the book. It really explains the factors behind Anakin’s fall.

    However, I’m not trying to defend or deny the very real storytelling mistakes in these movies. This was a helpful post, it just bothered me to see movies I like being criticized, even if they deserve it.

    • Correction in the last sentence: even *though* they deserve it. 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Totally agree about Stover’s novelization. I thought it was really good. And if you like Episode I? That’s totally cool. Sometimes the best story experiences are the ones we like in spite of their objective problems. At the end of the day, the only true measure of a story’s success is whether or not it connects with its audience.

    • Thrice great Hermes says

      Obi-Wan is the protagonist.

  17. Great article! The part about knowing what your story’s blank spaces are filled with was a revelation for me.

    Have you seen those Youtube videos about how the Star Wars prequels could have been good? I found them brilliant. The storyline that could have been created had so much more strenght. That’s the first episode: https://youtu.be/VgICnbC2-_Y

  18. Max Woldhek says

    I have a confession to make: I found the political stuff in Episode I interesting.

    …Okay, so maybe I wasn’t like the average 11-year old.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Though you do gotta wonder about any society that would let someone like Jar Jar be a Representative. Oh wait… :p

  19. Ouch. Yeah. It all went so wrong.

    I would add to the list:Have a plan. Know where you’re taking the story. I have the “Art of” book for the second movie and they mention in there that he was still figuring out plot and adding things in fairly close to production. It’s like he didn’t know how he was going to excuse the story (yes, I know lots can change with a movie right up up to editing).But when you contrast it to how Marvel is interweaving movies and building up the confrontation with Thanos…*shrug*

  20. There is a genuine age gap in the acceptance of the prequels. My wife, who is 10 years younger than me, think the prequels are great and she doesn’t understand why anyone would believe that the originals were better.

    My niece (23) and nephew (11) are the same way. All the kids that I talk to want Star Wars toys from the prequels and when I say that the X-wing and Millennium Falcon are my favorite ships they look at me with a “wtf” look and tell me how awesome the Naboo ships are. My nephew thinks the Slave 1 is completely stupid and I love the non-standard design.

    I think this is also true for the storytelling. The prequels are all about action and lack emotion; until of course the parts where they are all emotion. The original trilogy is all about character development and emotion; until suddenly it’s all about the action. I think the later works better. You really get drawn in to the action and feel like you have something at steak when you have been lead to care about the characters properly. Apparently, younglings don’t agree with me. I just never really gave that much of a crap about anyone in the prequels, right from the beginning. When you suddenly realize that all of the characters in your story are expendable at any moment, you’ve done something wrong. If Padme died at the end of Episode I, how would that have really effected you? I could have cared less and I’ll bet Anakin would have still became a whiney douchebag Sith-weazel.

    Here’s another thing to learn from Lucas – don’t have a character be born from immaculate conception. Just. Don’t.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I agree with the generation gap to a point. As a thirteen-year-old when the movie came out, I certainly didn’t hate it. But the older I got, the faster the blinders came off.

      • Would you mind if I asked how familiar you were with the original series when you watched the prequels at 13?

        I ask because my wife had never seen any of the Star Wars movie when I had her watch them with me, in episode order, about 8 years ago. I’ve always wondered if watching them in that order gave a different perspective then watching them in the order my generation did.

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          Very. My parents were fans, so they had introduced me and my siblings to the originals on VHS prior to the re-release.

          But I definitely think the order of viewing makes an impact. I’m always surprised by people today who see the original trilogy and don’t go for it. But, really, it makes a certain kind of sense–since they’ve been living in a Star Wars-saturated pop culture without even realizing it, contrary to those of who saw the original trilogy to begin with or early in our lives.

      • Thrice great Hermes says

        Not In my case I don’t hate episode I or any of the Prequel films,because they did their job as Star Wars films and I didn’t go in looking for them to possess the same style,tone and rhythm as the OT.

        I come to each Star Wars film to go on the next leg of a journey, rather than retread familiar path.

        A disappointing Star Wars film would be one that repeated a leg of journey that I had already experienced…like VII for instance.

  21. Omg I was laughing out loud reading all the stuff about Phantom Menace. So sad, I don’t get it either. It’s ridiculous how completely different the prequels are from the originals.

    Your posts, as always hit it on the nose. Excellent thought-provoking points on how to structure. At Lucas’ expense. (So funny)

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      What’s funny to me is how enduringly fascinating this topic remains. I think about it way too often!

  22. Suzie Quint says

    One thing I think you’ve overlooked and that is that for the original trilogy, Lucas had invaluable input from Joseph Campbell. Because of that, he held to the straight and narrow of the hero’s journey. For the prequels, he didn’t have Campbell’s input (Campbell was deceased by then.) It doesn’t help either that the two main characters in the last of the prequels had zero screen chemistry.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Though would think (and had I been George, I would have certainly hoped it for myself) that the teachings would have rubbed off enough to guide me in the second process as well.

  23. I totally agree about the Star Wars films 1-3 – they were a major disappointment. Patchy, to say the least. I did like the animated clone wars series and the recent film was so much better than I expected. Here’s hoping that the films to come continue to improve.

    The area where I always fall down is bulking out my storyline. I know the arcs I want to map. I know the characters and the storyline, even the major scenes. It’s filling in the gaps between the major events, without these scenes being boring or without purpose, that causes me a lot of brain-ache.

    Great post.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      One of the best ways to keep your story moving forward in between major plot points is to stay focused on your character’s goal. What does he want? What is he doing to achieve it? And what is getting in his way?

      • Joe Long says

        A good reminder.

        Right now my rewrite is about half way through the second act, closing in on where I stopped in the first draft. I have a written outline of the plot points and a brief description of each scene. Once I sit down to write the scenes, I pants it.

        Some of these outlined events are tied to specific dates. It restricts me, I didn’t have to, but it’s locked in. I’m now asking myself how much is needed to fill out the second act.

        This morning I went through the events I have outlined already, and counted in the low twenties, to cover twelve weeks. The average of nearly two a week encouraged me, I thought I had fewer, but my next step will be a more formal order of these events, and more I may think of. I don’t want to write scenes just to fill time, I realize they must be important to the story arc or character development. Some are prerequisites for later scenes and must go in order, others can be moved around.

        I see it as a logical exercise, arranging all the parts into both the best order and a realistic pacing.

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          Timelines make my eyes cross. I usually have to use a physical calendar (I get them free from the bank) and block out days to keep track of myself.

          • Joe Long says

            But it’s so hard to edit and rearrange when it’s on paper. I’ve used spreadsheets, and this time I opened Wordpad and jotted down the twenty-some scene topics for the rest of Act 2, with dates for some, and notes for others such as ‘after A’, ‘before B’ and cut & pasted to move them around.

            After I got the next five scenes to make the next chapter, I jotted down the general theme of the chapter and how if affected his & her character arcs. Then added a more detailed description plus character impacts for each of the five scenes.

            I’ll sort out the remaining scenes for the rest of the act later, perhaps add more.

            Now it’s time to put on my pants and write.

          • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

            Oh, I agree. Makes my eyes cross sometimes too.

      • That’s really useful. Thanks.

  24. Thanks, Jamie.

    Here is someone’s analysis of Episodes I-III:

    http://boards.theforce.net/threads/an-analysis-of-anakins-turn.50027331/

  25. James Ross says

    Remember he wrote the whole thing. Then he decided he might only get one shot, decided that “Star Wars” was the best part of the story and went with that. He almost decided NOT to do the prequels, but “by popular demand” he brought them out.

    Maybe the moral of this story is: when you think you’ve told all there is to tell, stop. And stay stopped.

    Of course, I didn’t hate the prequels… so I may be defective. Or just not paying enough attention?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      It’s a good moral. There is definitely a point where too much of a good thing becomes too much.

  26. Kim–Thanks for an excellent blog post. I’m so old that I actually saw the original STAR WARS in the theater the week it opened, in 1977. In fact, I was in a screenwriting class (my first) that spring at USC in L.A., and STAR WARS was the first script we were given to read (as much to understand screenwriting format as the story itself). I thought it was ridiculous and never finished reading it–then I was dragged to see the film and was blown away.

    For my money, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is still the best of all, by far. And luckily, I’m not alone in that assessment.

    I’ve read that Lucas actually wasn’t in love with his universe when he wrote the original STAR WARS–he wanted to experiment with the camera AND he wanted the merchandising rights (Fox stupidly let him have them, and now we have SW everything–your fault, Fox). But he never dreamed people would fall in love with his universe as they did.

    Among other story points they messed up in the 1-3 trilogy, someone obviously forgot Leia’s speech in RETURN OF THE JEDI, where she tells Han (I think–could be Luke) that she remembers her mother as beautiful but always sad. Yet her mother dies in childbirth in REVENGE OF THE SITH, so clearly Leia could never have known or remembered her. Oops.

    It says something about the original characters that when I saw THE FORCE AWAKENS (which I thought was pretty awful–they literally recycled everything in the original STAR WARS and hoped we’d like it)–the audience in the theater with me went nuts over the Millenium Falcon and Chewie and Han and even Leia. And while I liked the actress who played the lead this time around, the character development was all but non-existent in #7. They’ll have to do way better in the next film to hold onto our interest.

    One last point, and it has nothing to do with story: It says something about the actor that 72-year-old Harrison Ford is still the sexiest thing in the Star Wars universe. Whew…

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Ah, yes, Leia’s beautiful memory in Return is forever marred, since I can’t help thinking of its nonexistence in Revenge, every time I see it.

  27. Oh the prequels – they’ve been talked about so much and yet there’s still plenty to talk about. The main lesson I’m kind of learning here is that if you want to write a series, you should at least write an outline of every entry before you finish one book, especially if there will be prequels.

    My general thoughts is that George Lucas is still a genius in some ways, but he needs other people that can say no to certain ideas. With the original movie he had a studio that limited both his budget and what he could do, and the movie turned out well. With Empire, he wrote the first draft, but hired both another writer and another director to handle everything. It’s still the best Star Wars movie in my honest opinion.

    With the prequels, he had full control and they turned out to be disasters. Even so, each movie has at least some scattered moments of brilliance. Episode 1 sometimes does a good job of blending in real environments with CGI, and while it’s way too long and a bit cartoony, the podrace is a fun way to expand on the Galaxy’s culture a bit. In episode 2, the fight between Obi Wan and Jango Fett on Kamino is actually pretty intense. Episode 3 has that opera scene that’s almost perfect.

    That said, the entire prequel trilogy completely failed to show Obi Wan and Anakin as friends. They talked about being friends, but every time they work together, they can’t seem to stop bickering. Show, don’t tell.

    A while ago I wrote a trilogy of blog posts trying to find the good movies hidden within the prequels (enforcing a rule on myself where I couldn’t remove any characters, even Jar Jar). Episode 2 was actually the biggest challenge.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, imagine how tragic the final battle in Episode III would *truly* have been had we felt the weight of Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship throughout. Gah.

      • The tragic fight is something that Captain America: Civil War did right. There’s that at least.

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          Oh, boo yeah. 🙂 Just saw this yesterday. Very happy with it.

          • Joe Long says

            I thought the first confrontation between the two teams of Avengers was taken too lightly, with so many jokes thrown in. The mood was, “Oh man, I don’t want to hurt you, but I can’t let you do that.”

            The final reveal turned that last fight very dark and personal. I very much understood WHY they where fighting so intensely (even if I figured out the foreshadowing immediately.)

          • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

            I actually thought it made complete sense that they were pulling punches in the beginning. They *didn’t* want to hurt each other, which made the escalation later on all the more powerful.

  28. Personally, I’ve never seen George Lucas as a great writer. He reminds me of something John Truby said once about some people being great at concepts and premises–even great at coming up with “what ifs”–but just not very good at evolving those things into a coherent story. There’s nothing wrong with that, Truby says. Hollywood is full of those guys. They usually work with a team of people (including writers) to realize their vision. I think that’s Mr. Lucas and I think his “team” let him down (or maybe listened to him too much/blew smoke up his butt) when it comes to SW Episodes 1-3.

    Having said that, your analysis is still right on point, as always. Plus, it gives people who want to imitate Lucas something to think about. When can you analyze the pitfalls of Fifty Shades of Gray? 😉

    (You think I’m joking, but as an editor, if I had a dime for every novice writer who came to me wanting to imitate EL James…)

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Hah. I haven’t read 50 Shades, and, honestly, have zero plans to. If life’s too short for the Star Wars prequels, it’s definitely too short for that!

  29. Byron Peters says

    Pleased to know that someone else found the character arc of Aniken Skywalker to be strange and unconvincing. He starts out as a bright and charming little boy; then, later on as a teen, inexplicably turn into a wishy washy and dull guy, speaking stilted dialogue, willing to have his standards compromised by weirdos from the so called “dark side”, such as Senator Palatine.
    I would have seen through Palatine in two seconds.
    Most people do not realize that a child can have a secure and strong character. Perhaps they do not self examine their own childhood enough; or, perhaps, do not take time to speak to their own children in meaningful conversation. This why the corruption of Aniken Skywalker fails to be convincing. Thank you again for your article.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Palpatine was yet another element that disappointed. In the prequels, he was hardly the formidable and frightening mastermind he was portrayed as in Return of the Jedi.

  30. Hannah Killian says

    K.M, this may be completely unrelated, but what do you think of the claim Rey is a Mary Sue? For some reason, the claim irks me, as I didn’t see her as a MS at all.

  31. I’ve never seen any of the original Star Wars movies. I’ve only seen The Force Awakens. I’ve heard of George Lucas, but never saw his movies.

  32. How the prequel trilogy should have gone:
    1. Zero Spoilers- George should taken the challenge of keeping the mystery and thus should have not shown Yoda or Jabba (among many things).
    2. Setting/time- The first film should have started when Vader had already fallen to the dark side (thus no spoiler).
    3. No Padme- Queen Organa should have been the mother of Luke and Leia, and there should have been a more complex/adult relationship between Vader and Breha Organa (given she believes Anakin Skywalker is dead and has married King Money). And Vader would be suspicious that Leia is Skywalker’s daughter.
    4. We Need A Hero- There was no hero in the prequel trilogy. As with Rogue One, a new character should have been introduced (20-something mother of Mara Jade?).
    5. Practical Effects- Real sets and real characters, as shown in The Force Awakens, play a major role in bringing these movies to life.
    6. Not Focused on Galactic History- The prequels were centered around politics and… politics. In the original trilogy, the politics were in the background– there was an adventure/quest actually going on.

  33. Hannah Killian says

    So, even though there was stale dialogue in the PT, there is that one line from Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith where he tells Anakin, “Why do I have the feeling you’re going to be the death of me?” At first, you think nothing of it. But then you remember what happens in A New Hope and can’t help but say well played, Lucas. Well played

  34. Glaxson D'Lima says

    What was more tragic than the poor treatment of prequels was the fact that George Lucas was surrounded by an army of Yes Men who might have never imagined that he could go wrong. That goes to show when critics don’t want to upset you and as a result give thumbs up at each and every wrong turn of your story telling journey it can cause major damage in the long run.

  35. Dearth Nadir says

    “Obi-Wan’s whole ‘I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Yoda. I was wrong’ doesn’t jive at all with his reluctance to accept Qui-Gon’s dying wish that he ‘train the boy.'”

    While I agree with most of what you said, I don’t agree with the above. It could have been written better, but it doesn’t directly contradict what Obi-Wan said in ROTJ. While he disagrees with Qui-Gon about Anakin before this point, Obi-Wan immediately accepts Qui-Gon’s last wish without hesitation and tells Yoda he will train Anakin even if the Jedi Council won’t sanction it. Yoda says he senses “Qui-Gon’s defiance” in him. There is nothing to suggest that Obi-Wan doesn’t think he can train Anakin as well and Yoda at that point or that there is any reluctance about doing it.

    Obi-Wan essentially becomes Qui-Gon, which was actually an abandoned plot twist where a younger “Qui-Gon Jinn” would ritualistically take on the name of his fallen master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, thus becoming the Obi-Wan we know.

    I love your outlining articles and books, by the way. They are very helpful.

Trackbacks

  1. […] or pantsers, to trust themselves and how their minds work, while K. M. Weiland writes about planning your story: what George Lucas can teach you (not) to do and Don Calame explains how writing for films can improve your novel […]

  2. […] post about planning your story claims to show what you can learn from George […]

  3. […] is rather sensationalist in style, but it makes some good points. If you  are at the stage of  planning your story, it is certainly worth a […]

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