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Lessons from the Aether: “The Star Wars” Comic Book and Learning from First Drafts


Tweet of the Day: Dead In Two Places: The Eleanor Story

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This has been a long week. I won’t go into specifics, I’m really not in the mood, but lets just say that another bullet got dodged, but it was close. Which reminds me about the last comic book series I read, The Star Wars comic book. Not the Star Wars comic book, but The Star Wars comic book based on George Lucas earlier script drafts for the movie of the same name.

It is a fascinating look at the source of many of the characters, concepts, plot points and influences that come together to make the eponymous franchise now going into its seventh official iteration and has spanned countless other media. You can see how the mind of a writer works, how ideas change over time:

  • Everybody wielded lightsabers,
  • There was no Republic, just an “Good” Empire that went Bad,
  • R2 talked instead of beeped,
  • Han Solo was a giant alien more reminiscent of Chewbacca,
  • Darth Vader and Anakin were completely different people
  • The Space Fortress hadn’t acquired the giant space laser that would turn into the Death Star
  • A guy named Witsun dies instead of Kenobi
  • And many other changes

Names get recycled, character concepts refined, locations reused or re-imagined.  It really puts a lie to the idea that writers have a fully formed story in their heads and the only thing they have to do is transcribe it to the page. Instead what they have a a vague collection of ideas that can only take shape once they go through the writing process. Either through writing multiple drafts or relentlessly editing the one draft or outline do we get to a finished product. And even then knowing now what we know of Star Wars, we seen how even their creator sought to change decades after the initial release.

It also shows the old adage that first drafts are…well, to put it bluntly…shit. The writing is atrocious. The dialogue is stilted, the pacing stutters, and romance, well lets just say that it starts with the hero Aniikin punching the Princess in the jaw and leads to mutual and instantaneous declarations of love without any resolution whatsoever. Not that the writing of the actual movies was Oscar worthy, but certainly had some quotable moments and flowed better that molasses that passes for words in this comic book.

Which means if you feel like your first draft is absolutely worthless, it is not. There is always something to salvage from the attempt, maybe even a multi-billion dollar franchise.

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2 comments on “Lessons from the Aether: “The Star Wars” Comic Book and Learning from First Drafts

  1. Adapting a first-draft screenplay into a comic seems like such an odd exercise to me with the rough draft being so easy to find as a PD, though I can see the merits–it makes for quicker reading, for one. And it’s not as egregious as, say, Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson expanding Frank Herbert’s early outline for a Dune-like novel into a full novel while neglecting to publish the outline itself…

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    • I think what the comics really show, and it is the one feature I liked about it, is the art and style (or at least a version of) that comes from that earlier draft. And if Herbert and Anderson expansion has as hideous a dialogue as this comic book, I might seriously consider book burning.

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