I had an epiphany over the fourth of July. Years ago I submitted a manuscript and it was rejected. It didn’t start at the right place. Hmmm, what did that mean?
I was a bit under the weather on the fourth, lying on the couch with a case of summer crud and found “The Force of July.” One of the cable channels was showing the Star Wars Saga, all six episodes.
My favorite of all six happens to be The Empire Strikes Back. There was so much in that one. Luke trains with Yoda, he and Han Solo seem to be locked in a struggle for Leia’s affections, and, of course, who can forget the best hook line of all times... “Luke, I am your father.”
As I’m sitting there it really hit home how important it is to start in the right place.
George Lucas started with Episode 4: A New Hope. Back then I remember thinking Part 4??? Who starts with 4? What happened to 1-3?
So I imagine trying to sell Parts 1-3.
“Okay- I’ve got this six part saga about a war in space, and it starts with this kid who we follow through Jedi training and then...”
“He saves the world?”
“No, not exactly, he struggles with authority of the Jedi council, falls in love with this senator, they secretly marry, she becomes pregnant with his child, and he’s afraid she’ll die in child birth, so he turns evil.”
“And she turns him back to good?”
“No, she dies.”
“And he turns good?”
“No, he’s burned up, but kept alive by his hatred. He’s put back together by an evil Sith Lord, but now is more machine than man...”
“...but the universe is saved?”
“No, it’s the beginning of decades of war.”
It may be odd to relate Star Wars to romance but it all clicked for me. Start at the Right Place!
*If he’d started with 1-3, we wouldn’t have a clear hero
*There wouldn’t have been all the mystery at the beginning.
*You would know Leia was Luke’s sister!
* “Luke, I am your father.” Would never have been so crushing. I remember my sister coming home from the movie almost in tears. Darth Vader is Luke’s father...he just can’t be.
By the end of Episode 5, your interest is piqued. Who is this Darth Vader, and in Episode 6, The Return of the Jedi, Vader, as Sith lord, doesn’t take an apprentice, but removes the mask and once again becomes Anakin, the Jedi. Not only does the Jedi order return, but Anakin the Jedi returns.
Starting in the right place gave a stronger, identifiable hero and heroine, more resolution and intrigue to the story, and the best hook of all time (IMHO)
And since it happened a LONG, LONG TIME AGO... its history. :-)