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3 Storytelling Lessons from Star Wars

Lessons learnt from Star Wars

Escape first, hug later.

I’ll do my best not to spoil anything, or for that matter, to nerd out too hard talking about Star Wars. But when I was asked about writing a Star Wars blog post for May the Fourth (Star Wars Day!), it was hard not to blurt out, “damn straight!”

When I saw Star Wars for the first time as a little kid, I didn’t realize that it’s more than an action packed adventure series filled with aliens, blasters and new worlds. It shows how specific storytelling choices made the films unforgettable. Here are a handful of some of the lessons I’ve learned from Star Wars.

Believable Relationships

At the core of the Star Wars saga is the relationships between pivotal characters.

Let’s start with Rey and Fin, because after all it was their embrace that prompted Han Solo to say, “Escape first, hug later.” I was eyes deep in lightsaber-force-blaster bliss when I heard the line. All of a sudden every single relationship in Star Wars EVER flashed before my eyes.

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Both characters are new to Star Wars fans, but neither felt out of place. Their relationship started just as Luke and Leia’s did, a hero saving a damsel who is stronger than she appears. The connection Rey and Fin create is easy to relate to as a viewer. We’ve all been in a situation where someone is trying to help you, even though you might not think they are helping at all. It’s that connection, the one that we as viewers have to Rey and Fin, that makes the Star Wars series so compelling.

Relatable Characters

Strong characters drive a story forward, they grasp your attention, your heart, and your imagination.

There is a lot of talk between C3PO and R2D2. We can understand C3PO, even if we might not want to hear his babbling, because one of his six million languages is English, but R2D2’s beeps and squeaks are complete jibberish. Nevertheless, we understand them as characters because Star Wars’ creators have made both robots so human. When they first meet, in Episode I, R2D2 embarrasses C3PO by letting him know he is naked.

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Why would a droid care about its covers? The droid doesn’t, the audience does.

Simple Story Arc

The characters and their relationships can grab your attention as a viewer, but it’s the golden nuggets of the story arc that keep you entertained from beginning to end. I’ll stay away from any Force Awakens spoilers in this portion and focus on Episode IV, “A New Hope.”

Blasters blow open a door on a Rebel cruiser, and quickly we learn the Empire are looking for secret plans that were stolen from them. You’re introduced to a bad team, a good team, and a critical plot point – these secret plans.

The story is fairly simple to follow, but as characters are unveiled, the plot thickens. First Luke, then Ben, Han, Chewy, and before you know it we’ve traveled across the universe from Tatooine to Yavin 4, and are pulling for the destruction of the evil Galactic Empire.

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Every piece of the story arc is designed to entice the audience as you’re introduced to new people and information is revealed. This process pulls the viewer through the story with different points of intrigue – Why him? Why here? Why does Ben sacrifice himself to Vader?

Stories are defined by cause and effect. Each action in the Star Wars universe has a reaction, each Jedi has a Sith, and this recipe for storytelling has allowed Star Wars to build a cult following. Next time you’re rewatching the Star Wars series (perhaps following the Machete order), pay attention to how you feel. Even in a galaxy far, far away, the characters and their stories are relatable and you feel right at home in their world.

Please share your insights (or argue with mine) with us on Twitter. And may the Force be with you.

Rebecca McCutcheon

About Rebecca McCutcheon

Rebecca is a multifaceted storyteller. Her focus is people, her passion is telling their stories. With a Bachelor's in Film from Ringling College of Art and design, she continues to form her skill set and is always looking for something new get her hands on.

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