Sunday, May 15, 2005

Star Wars and Plotting

I read an article today about George Lucas and the latest Star Wars installment. I found it interesting that he admitted that when he scripted the last two movies, the plots were very thin. Apparently, only about 40% of the actual story was contained in the last two movies, and the rest was filler. Which follows that 60% of the storyline is left for this latest offering. I do not argue that his story overall is great, and I've been an avid fan of the entire series since "Star Wars, A New Hope". But it sounds like he had a great basic concept for Anakin's backstory and the fall of the Republic, and then he just had trouble fleshing it out in ways that would have made the first two movies (of the current trilogy) really resonate with their audience. It's a shame. I enjoyed them anyway, but what might they have been if Mr. Lucas had indulged in a lot more plotting and brainstorming before he started production?

I'm not trying to compare myself to Lucas in terms of writing style or ability, but it occurs to me that I had a similar problem with the second and third books of the trilogy I'm working on. I wrote the first book in a completely organic manner, hooked my agent with that, and then had to come up with a detailed plot for books two and three on the fly. Yikes! I hadn't really thought much beyond some very general ideas for the next two books. But that's the great thing about Bob--he doesn't let me get away with anything. Or, perhaps more accurately...he doesn't let me get away with Nothing. When he and I spoke about Shadows of Memory recently, he told me that although the pages turned quickly, it still felt more as though things had been added to the plot than built into it. Bingo. I tried to grow the plot events from the character arcs, but I didn't do as complete or detailed a job of it as I should have. Missed a few crucial brainstorming sessions, I guess. As a result, my plot for Shadows was thin in places and some stuff was just added to fluff the book out because I was afraid I wouldn't have enough word count. Hah. In today's publishing climate, I was worried that the book would be too short? *shuffles foot and looks at ground* Well, now I know better. I'll be doing things very differently when I flesh out the arcs for the third book. Live and learn. I love the new, tighter storyline for Shadows now. I love what it's done for some of the characters, including a minor character who now has a very interesting problem. He makes a mistake, the ramifications of which are both good and bad at the same time. He can't be glad he made the mistake, but he can't be sorry either. Best of all, it seriously impacts the main character. Gotta love conflict like that!

No comments: