Nicholas Reicher

Writing Your Next Blockbuster Film or Novel

Category: Fiction (Page 1 of 8)

Editing your novel 1

Every writer sets out to write their novel, and thinks once you’ve finished writing it, it’s done. There’s even a famous scene in a movie about a writer’s tradition when he finishes a book, his one cigarette, his bottle of wine.

Actually, about all you get is a smile, self satisfaction, and some relief. “It’s done. I spend six weeks writing this and it’s done.”

On to the next one!

But know that once book two is finished in six more weeks, you now have to edit book one.

It’s going to take several passes.

The line by line revision doesn’t happen at first. It happens later. What are you looking at first?

Structure.

Do you have a character arc?

Is there suspense and conflict in every scene?

Can I cut this scene out? Will the story be nonsense without it?

Did I build the conflict big enough?

Did I hit all of the points I preplanned out?

If the story changed (and it always does), did I find substitute conflict points?

Do I have 50-60 spark points?

A dozen pivotal scenes?

Very often the first edit pass is almost like a retelling of the novel. It’s going to take a couple of weeks just to get through this first stage.

This stage is crucial. Nine out of ten novels fail at the premise. And since novels often change – sometimes drastically – you have to go back through and ensure the conflict still works. That means your structure can go from workable to unworkable in the process of writing.

If you don’t do this first step, then forget the rest of them.

Suspense (the denial of something) and conflict  (the interrupted attainment of something) must be present in every scene. This is one of the major steps in this first revision.

You need to examine the plot points, which you should have listed in Project properties in the Inspector. Did you hit them all? Did one or two of them lose power in the process of writing? This does happen. If it did, did you choose a substitute story point?

There has to be three turns – first turning point, midpoint, second turning point.

You have to have the climax building in the last 10% of your book. Literally, by word 59,500 you must begin the final conflict stage in your book. This has to build up. If it was a movie, this would be the car chase.

If you have a denouement, it must be short. Don’t have a 60 page wrap-up at the end of your book. If you’ve got that, you cheated the second turn and didn’t build up enough for the climax.

Ready? Now go and edit book two. Get some daylight away from this book, then we’ll come back and start on second pass.

Writing Several Books at One Time

One of the most difficult things to do is work on several projects at the same time. It’s actually recommended against.

I find myself in this same situation, as I’ve been hired to work on a screenplay, but as long as I meet my page counts, then I still can put some time into my other projects.

I’ve got several novels I’m working on, and I don’t want to let any of that lag behind. I’ve got several of my own screenplays I’d like to get done (and maybe enter some contests this year).

To get all this done, I’ve got to work on several projects at the same time.

To get this done, which most people actually can’t do at one time, you have to make sure of four things:

  1. Time management
  2. meet priority deadlines first
  3. plan your work
  4. know and be able to SEE your work.

The last step is something I’ve been VERY emphatic about on this blog. If you’re burning the candle at both ends and the middle, the only way to pull this off is to be able to visualize it. You have to be able to say, “This is the throw the plate scene.” You have to know the essence of the argument that leads to throwing the plate, you have to know why they throw the plate, what the aftermath roughly is. If you can’t SEE the scene in your head, you’re going to end up with a huge case of writer’s block.

Time Management. First is time management. You’ve got to know what needs to be done by when. I’m one of those people that is always trying to find the best time management system and software, so that’s no big deal to me. I’m almost resigned to having to design my own software, and get someone to write it!

Meet Priority Deadlines first. Someone’s paying me money, so their project comes first, above and beyond mine. I have to meet seven pages of script, no matter what. If I start getting bogged down, then the script is all that’s getting written.

Plan your work. This is ESSENTIAL.  Get your save the cat, or your list of plot points, a synopsis, SOMETHING. You must know where you’re going in every project. It’s not enough to know what’s next, you may want to write another plot point first, because that will help to write the earlier one! KNOW where you’re going to go!

know and be able to SEE your work.

If you can’t see your work, how all the scenes fit together, I guarantee you’re not going to finish it. NOTHING is more demoralizing to a writer to have a bunch of unfinished novels.

start using the three step plot process – the Save the Cat 15 step template, your 21 point story template, then a 60 point template.

60 points sounds like a lot, but John Truby insists that every novel and movie  has 50 to 60 pilot points.  I was able to write out 8 spark sheets in 3 days last week – its just a matter of mindset.

if you think plot point,  you’ll be paralyzed – what if I choose the wrong thing? What if I limit myself?

But if you think, “this is something that sparks my interest, a scene I can’t wait to write…” then filling that sheet out becomes EASY. and QUICK.

Fun.

Writing should be fun, enjoyable. You write because essentially that’s how God designed you – you HAVE to write.

I HAVE to write. No matter what else I’ve been doing all my life, I’ve come up with ideas for movies and books.

Write your novels. If you’re stuck in the same situation I’m in, where you’re working on many projects at once, statistics say it’s a recipe for disaster. You’re not likely to make progress in any of them – unless you use serious time management techniques, solid planning, and know where you’re going before you get there.

Scene Construction 2

What is a scene, at its basic level?

this is a big question, really. And the answer to effective writing is in answering this question.

According to David Gerrold, screenplay writer and inventor of the Tribble, “A scene is a confrontation between two persons.”

Confrontation is conflict.

Every scene must have its conflict.

If you master this, people keep turning pages to read your books.

If you’ve been reading my blog from the beginning, you’ll remember me describing a truly terrible book that I couldn’t put down at ALL.

Why?

Because the author had this DOWN. He wrote suspenseful conflict in every scene. People were dying left and right, and you flipped the pages quickly to discover if the heroes were going to survive.

If the beta reader stops reading the page 80% of the way down to flip the page, you’ve got it made. You’ve mastered this.

That’s your goal.

Every scene is about someone trying to do something, or get something, or say something. Sometimes they get it. That’s a reward or payoff. Most of the times they don’t.

That’s conflict.

When your novel is too long

None of us set out to write War and Peace. Although it seems like a beautifully written book, it’s also drudgery to read through!

I remember thinking I was really something for making it through Shardik, the monstrous book by Richard Adams about a giant grizzly in the steppes of Russia worshipped as a god by primitive peasants. I don’t know what the word count was, but it dwarfed all the other books on my bookshelf.

When I wrote my first novel, I had in mind a particular sequence. I still didn’t know much about writing, and it’s created a big headache.

Because my book has topped out at 196,000 words.

Now, if you’re truly terrible at writing, here’s how you fix it, Stick it on a shelf for a year or two, and write five other books.

Now that you’re a lot better at writing, here’s one of two possible solutions.

Solution one – Chop every scene that isn’t crucial.  This is easy when you’re first starting out. Just look at the scene. Does it move the story along? No? Kill it. Put it in the research section of Scrivener so you’re not losing all that work, you’re just removing it from the story. Here’s the sneak way to get it back in your novel. When you’re talking to your agent about it, tell them you wrote a really good scene about buying a box truck. You hated to lose it, but you chopped it from the book. Your agent may well say, “Send it to me”. Then you send it, and now she can’t imagine your book without it.

Solution two – here’s for the people that have a lot of writing talent. It’s very probable you’ve got 62 chapters in your novel, that all of them are crucial to the story, and you’ve chopped EVERYTHING you needed to chop, and you’re still – like me – at 195,000 words.

Write out your spark sheet as if you’re plotting a new novel. Put your six or seven word synopsis on every line. Somewhere in the middle you’ve got to plot in a break.

Switch genres. A simple action novel can become a suspense novel. That imposes a new template in your mind. “Where can I put the conspiracy?” Ah… I’ve got it…

And now you can split your War and Peace sized novel into two books. 196,000 divided by 2 is…93,000 words. NOW the idea of chopping scenes is easier. You’ve just got 6,000 words to chop from each book. And if you’ve got the book TIGHT where it’s now a page turner instead of a shelf breaker, the agent and the publisher are going to just say, “Well, you know, that’s how many words it takes!”

Conclusion

Publishers are really amiss about publishing another Shardik or a War and Peace. Those books were written when the price of a novel meant you could stop by the pharmacy, spent $10 and buy 5 books. They used to have a “Buy 5 books, get one free” deals.

Not any more. A 200,000 page book costs a LOT to print and ship. It’s extra shipping, and that’s expensive. It eats into the profit margin, and profit margins on books are most definitely not as high as other forms of entertainment.

To get your massive tome published, you’ve either got to cut three out of every four words, or your going to have to split your book in two.

If you can’t do one, aim for the other!

Stay on track with Scrivener

One of the tools I use in Scrivener is of course the target word count. Everyone learns about the project total, but I like to set up my templates to have a target word count per scene.

When you add scenes to each chapter in Scrivener, open each scene when your done. You’ll see a little grayed out circle with a circle inside it. Click on that – it opens the space for you to put your scene word count in. If you’re doing one scene per chapter, that’ total will be 1667. If two scenes, you need to have 880 and 881. Try this, since you’re going to go over. Set every scene to 800 words.

I have four scene lengths I typically use – action sequences tend to be 400 words, a short scene is 600, average scene 800, and long scene 1200+. If I enter a chapter knowing I’m going to have action snippets or sequences, I now add a third scene and adjust my scene lengths accordingly (setting one of the scenes to 400).

It might make sense, if you’re an extreme planner, to make an excel spreadsheet and keep track of scenes, against your grand total of 85,000.

Here’s an additional word on that subject – try like mad to avoid long scenes in the middle of your book. Long scenes give a feeling of drag. Shorter scenes in the middle of your book help you to avoid what Jerry Jenkins calls “The maunder of the middle”.

Again, all this is to avoid the problem of trying to write a book, and finding you’re 45,000 words over target. Or in my case, my first novel topped out at the length of two and a half books! I’ll discuss tomorrow how to fix that.

Pant’sing Vs. Planning

Most writers are pant’sers.

most Pant’sers struggle with writer’s block.

Most pant’sers have trouble finishing their books.

Jerry Jenkins thinks most writers are planners or pant’ser. I’ve got to say that at some level, any experienced writer is a combination of both.

My oft-repeated phrase of “plan your work, then work your plan” sums up writing a novel. I won’t sit down to  write a book unless I’ve planned it partially out. And lately, I’ve gotten a system that works VERY well.

Because what happens is – if you can’t see the story…

If you can’t see the scene…

if you don’t know how the scene fits into the story…

then you won’t be able to write it.

I don’t like writer’s block. I don’t like being stumped. I like to sit down, do 2 days of rudimentary planning, then I like to sit down and blast out 2000 words a day and complete the script or book in 3 weeks.

If you’re a pant’ser, no worries. Because I was one too. My first story – a star trek novel – was started in 1976. I never finished it.

I tried it again 20 years later. I never finished it.

I started it again a few months ago. It’s almost finished.

Plan. If you know where the book is going, it’s easy to get there.

Scene Construction

Constructing a scene should be simple enough. You get a visual of what you want to happen like a little movie, and you write it down.

Well, it’s not always that easy. If it were that easy, we’d all be published authors, and publishing parties would be attended by millions, everyone wanting to compare our book to yours.

Very often, you know where you need to end at… you need to deliver the ring of power, kill the great white shark and find the buried treasure.

And you’re on chapter 4.

Um.

If you’ve used the spark sheet idea I’ve talked about, then you get into the idea of writing out 50-60 plot points, and you know now what you need to accomplish in this scene.

Point One – you have to get into the scene. Now, not every scene is like a Reader’s Digest peril in real life kind of thing – “It was 6 PM in Urbana Illinois when…”. What I write just to get me into the scene is “(name) (action)…” Carpenter walked into the room. Lynch was standing in a field. The Great White Shark was driving the 18-wheeler in 3rd gear when…

The point is, get into the scene somehow! Learning how to do this is simple, you pull a novel off your bookshelf, and read the beginning sentence of 10 different chapters. How does so-and-so start a chapter? How does this guy or that start his chapters?  Some authors prefer Readers Digest (it was 6 AM the next day when…) and some prefer a name. Grabbing a Jerry Jenkins book off my shelf, I see that in five separate chapters, it’s a name. The last one I looked at was “readers digest”. Don’t worry too much about how you get into it.

Point Two – start late, finish early. You don’t need to write “Buck parked the car, putting the keys into his pocket as he opened the door. He looked around to see where he parked, noticing he was as usual parked in front of a sign so he could easily find his car.” It’s not bad, but soon the reader’s going to wonder if Buck remembered where the car is parked, did he trip on the way into the building, was there an elevator or did he take the stairs… The problem for writers is not having too few words, but too many.

Point Three – The David Gerrold Rule. David Gerrold, who wrote the infamous “trouble with tribbles” episode of Star Trek, has a theory that essentially every scene is a confrontation. Buck confronts Rayford. Rayford confronts the Antichrist. Etc.

Point Four – conclude the scene. The confrontation has to end somehow. Some authors have very specific rules they follow on how a scene has to end. The “Echo”, the “Sequel”, the “buildup”. To me, it essentially must follow the rule of the screenwriter. If you enter the scene on a minus (disadvantage to the Protagonist), you must build up to a plus (advantage to the protagonist). If you start on a plus, you have to end on a minus. Minus faces pluses, pluses face minuses. If you plotted your book on a graph, it should look like a roller coaster ride.

Point Five – get out on a hint, or promise something. Did you hint at what’s coming in the next chapter? End on a question? You should be able to see if your book needs that. Point’s 4 and 5 will probably occur on your re-write, not your vomit draft. The idea is either to hint at a coming problem, or to put a promise to be rewarded in another scene. I suppose the biggest example of that, since I looked in a Left Behind book, was the relationship of Buck and Chloe. Or the resolution of “Was Rayford’s wife a spy?” Jenkins dragged the latter story out over several chapters – which is why everyone read “Left Behind” twice – once to get through the series, the second time to see what they missed from turning pages.

Last Point – Stay on schedule. You need to plot out your novel. You should have probably 30 chapters, two scenes each, so you’ve got about 800 words to play with. If your scene – like my scene in yesterday’s opening to Gojira – went over the mark, you’re down to one scene in that chapter. And you’ve got to remove the 166 words you went over the budget from other chapters on down the line. Easiest way is count your scenes, and figure the average to remove – perhaps you’ll have to remove one word each. Or you can put it in a spreadsheet. Keep on top of this, or you’re going to find yourself with a 195,000 word book, and struggling to cut out 45,000 words.

Gojira

The Russian cargo ship rolled in the waves, as the biggest Typhoon in years smashed the Sea of Japan. The Captain chain-smoked an endless supply of cigarettes as the cargo ship  pitched violently from one side to the other.
The expressionless man who’d stood on the bridge next to the Captain the entire way from the Strait of Tartary emerged again from the rest room, wiping his mouth. He looked as green as the sea waters, pouring over the ship.
“Where are we?” The GRU man asked him, struggling to maintain footing in the storm, and to maintain his stomach from emptying itself again. He was having dry heaves that this point, long ago running out of anything in his stomach to void.
“I think we are on the surface of the ocean, but I’m not sure.” The Captain said. He began turning the wheel, feeling the ship fight him.
“Where on the map?” The GRU agent asked again.
“Below Hokkaido, in Japan.” The Captain said around a mouthful of cigarette. The inch of ash at the end of the cigarette bounced up and down without breaking. The ship’s bow went under a massive wave, and came back up again. The ship shuddered as the water smashed into the superstructure of the cargo ship.
“We have to turn into the Tsugaru Strait.” The Captain said. He puffed out smoke.
The GRU agent struggled to the chart table only a couple of feet behind the Captain. He ran a finger across the map.
“This will take us miles off course!” The GRU agent protested. He would shout, but the seasickness had made him too weak for that.
“Do you have your life preserver on?” The Captain asked.
“No.” The GRU agent said.
“Go put it on.” The Captain finally dropped the ash from his cigarette.
“Why?” The agent asked.
“I’m not worried about finding Pyonyang.” The Captain puffed on the cigarette. “I’m worried about putting us close to a port where when we sink, you can be rescued.”
“You think we will sink?” Terror stole over the GRU agent.
“I don’t think, I am positive.” The Captain said. “If we sink on our present course, you will die in the waters before you can swim to a port. If I turn, then we will be only a short distance from Tokyo. There are many places on the coast you can safely get to.” He dropped the spent cigarette and patted his pockets for a pack. “You’d better take care of our large friend down below. And get that vest on. Hurry below decks. Get your men on the deck.”
“How long do we have?” The GRU man asked.
The Captain shrugged. “Perhaps five minutes. Perhaps the next roll in the waves.”
“How deep is the ocean here?” He asked. It was important for what he had to do next.
“Two thousand meters.”
The GRU agent grabbed his life jacket, strapping it on in a hurry. Fear drove his feet across the deck, slipping in the water. The shock of the cold ocean water flooding across the deck convinced him of the truth… they were going to sink soon. The GRU agent waded in freezing thigh deep water on the deck, already draining out the portholes. He grabbed the door leading into the cargo hold. The screaming wind and rain threatened to tear him loose and send him over the side, but he forced himself into the hold.
Down the stairs, the shockingly cold water pouring on him from above as he made his way down. He lit his way with his lighter, making his way to the monstrosity crouching in the bowels of the ship. He found the panel. Hands shaking, he put in the combination, popping it open. He realized he was bending over the device, holding a flame near it. But he had no other way.
He put in the information, trying to remember how to do this. It was a long time ago in Kiev when he’d sat in a room, being taught how to do this, and he hoped he was setting it correctly. The display changed, and he saw 2000 display on it. He swallowed in fear as water came pouring down from the yawing opening above him. The water slowed and stopped, and he began to breathe easier. Russia had no ships that could retrieve something at a depth of two thousand meters.
But America did. He pressed the last button and watched the display anxiously. The numbers were not changing, so he hoped he’d done it correctly. He ascended out of the hold, agonizingly cold sea water pouring down onto him. His fingers were numb, and he looked at his blue hands as he got on deck. He’d lost the lighter below. The GRU agent opened the door of the superstructure, and bellowed inside. “Get on the deck! Have your vests on!”
His men poured outside, shivering and complaining as the freezing water rose to knee deep.
An alarm began to sound. The ship rolled, and they all slid on the deck.
The door opened above, and the Captain emerged, making his way on the deck.
The GRU’s second in command grabbed him as they hurried to the rail, the water now thigh deep. He shouted something and the GRU agent couldn’t make it out. He put his mouth against the GRU agent’s ear and shouted.
“The bomb! What about the bomb?”
“I have set it to detonate at two thousand meters!” He shouted back.
“You fool! We will be over it when it sinks that low!” The second in command screamed.
“Swim quickly!” The agent shouted back.
The ship rolled, the railing disappearing under the water.
“JUMP! SWIM!” The Captain screamed. He shoved the GRU agent into the water, jumping in after him. All of the Russians dove into the water as fast as they could. The Russian ship began to right itself, but it was groaning, groaning. The ship was low in the water, and getting lower. The lights in the cabin went out, and the ship seemed to disappear in the storm.
They swam for their lives, taking off like Olympic athletes. They could hear creaking metal behind them, and a groan. Metal stressed.
There was popping sounds, and more groans. Glass broke.
“It is sinking!” The Captain shouted. “Swim for your lives!”
A large swell of water seemed to lift them up and drive them forward. The Captain lifted up the small device strapped to his vest. The light on it was on. He swam as quickly as he could.
The noise behind them sounded like the scream of a tortured metal beast. The Captain was not emotional, but it sounded like the dying scream of a faithful ship. They swam. Fingers and toes were losing feeling, legs feeling heavy. The Captain could hear the panting and sobbing as men splashed forwards. The Typhoon was sending waves over them, strong winds. A massive wave swept over them.
The Captain broke the surface. He saw the terrified GRU man and some of his sailors. “We’re being driven apart by the storm!” The Captain shouted. “Stay close!”
The storm was getting worse. This was a furious typhoon, the likes of which he had never seen. The Captain resolved to change his career to being a taxi driver in Moscow if he made it home after this. He risked a glance over his shoulder, and couldn’t see the ship. There was a fading glow off in the distance under the water, marking the burial spot of his ship.
He swam. The movement of his arms slowed. He felt heavy. Tired. His mouth was full of salty brine taste, and he spat the sea water out. The ship would go part way down, and doubtless break in two.
The behemoth inside the ship would slide free, and fall clear. It would reach the bottom before the ship did, as it was rounded. It might even roll. The seas were pulling eastward, which meant it would slide possibly into the abyssal trench before detonating.
How long did it take for a ship designed for buoyancy to sink? He didn’t know. There would be trapped pockets of air inside the ship, holding it up.
He could hear a boom under the water, and for a second he almost lost control of his bladder. The Captain realized he’d just heard the bulkheads of the ship collapse. The water was getting choppy. He heard something, and something splashed in the water. He grabbed it, wrapping  his arms around it. He kept a death grip on it as something dragged him up. He was laid on something hard, and hands grabbed him, carrying him inside something. He saw words. “NANKAI” was stenciled on the wall. He couldn’t understand it, trying to translate it from Cyrillic into western letters. Heat and light covered him, and excited voices were talking to him.
“Hey, Joe… you okay?” He heard. “You all right?”
“Ya Nepudnyemaya.” He answered in Russian. There was more talking, and soon he heard squawking from a radio. “Kak Dela?” He heard squawk from the radio. He grasped the mouthpiece, and dragged it close.
“Translate this quickly.” The Captain said “We are in danger from a nuclear explosion. There is a hydrogen bomb sinking. It will explode at a depth of two thousand meters. We are only a half mile away from it.”
He handed the microphone back as he heard the voice repeat his message in Japanese. The men on the ship began shouting, and footsteps began to run. After a minute, the engines of the boat roared into high gear.
The Captain looked around him, and saw only one other of his crew, laying on the deck. He closed his eyes as they wrapped him in a blanket.
“Devyatnadsat.” He said. “Vocemnadsat. Semnadsat. Shestnadsat. Pyatnadsat. Chetirnadsat. Trinadsat. Dvenadsat. Odinnadsat.” He brought his arm up, pulling a small chain and medallion out of his tunic, shivering. He kissed the medallion and let it drop. “Decyat. Devyat. Vocem. Sem. Shest.”
Nobody needed to translate to Japanese. The sailors around him were in a state of panic listening. The Captain crossed himself fervently, remembering his youth of attending secret church services, and how the priest had taught him to cross himself.  “Pyat. Chetire. Tri. Dva.” His hand dropped and his eyes closed. A tear slowly ran down his cheek. “Odin.”
“Nul.”
There was a sound in the distance. The sailors stopped talking. They stared at each other, fear in their faces. The ship creaked slightly. Then it shook.
The ship felt as if a hand had lifted it up and shoved it. There was shouting as the sailors ran for the deck. Some made it out onto the deck in the midst of the storm. A massive wave lifted, lifted, bubbling, rising. White sea water raced underneath them, and suddenly the sea lifted. Waves rolled along, crashing down on the men on the deck.
The ship continued, as the men picked themselves up from the deck.
One of the Japanese sailors touched his face. He felt like heat was crawling across his face, prickly heat. He stood, and walked towards the hatchway. He dropped onto the deck, tired. The heat in his skin was burning.
Burning.
He closed his eyes. Breath escaped his mouth, impossibly long.
He never rose again.

It’s what you don’t say…

Dialogue is hard for a lot of people. Something I was told back when I went to college was that dialogue was my strong point. And this is something that can make you or break you as a writer.

Sometimes it’s what you say. Sometimes its what you don’t say. People have a funny habit of not saying what they mean. And then you try to use what you’re saying to refer to what you’re not saying!

I used the example before of “How’s Mother?” “Mother is… being Mother.”

What’s not being said is “why are you asking about Mother? you know the problems she’s always creating! Leave it alone!”

Well, see, I’ve given you a whole backstory without elaborating on it in just two short sentences that don’t answer anything.

I’ve also created a promise, that requires the eventual payoff – we have to see Mother creating problems or meddling, and you’ve got to see the eventual blow up between siblings, mother to learn her lesson, and the divisions in the family to finally be healed.

I also didn’t answer the question. All that was done in two sentences, and a total of six words.

This is what we all need to strive for with our dialogue. Strive to say the most without saying it and using other words to say it.

Plan it. think it through. As we learn this, we get better at it.

Character Creation

What’s the single most important contribution you give your story? It’s not just the plot…

Let’s look at the logline.

“It’s about a guy who…”

Your character is it.

Try this. Take Dirty Harry, and put him in the lead of “Sleepless in Seattle.”

Completely different movie!

Take Die Hard, and cast Woody Allen as John MacLain. It’s suddenly becoming a comedy.

Take Ving Raimes and put him as John MacLain. Totally different movie.

Try this as a writing exercise. There are 9 persons in the Lord of the Rings. Take any of them, and make them the Ring bearer.

Or take Paul Atreides and make him the ring bearer.

Take Ged from A Wizard of Earthsea and make him the wizard instead of Gandalf.

How does the book change every time?

How do the dynamics change?

The first step of your plot is usually a mental picture of the protagonist. Luke Skywalker was one person in A New Hope. By Return of the Jedi, Luke is COMPLETELY different, and yet the same.

How would Return have been if it had been the whiny Luke from the first movie? The sarcastic and pessimistic Luke from Empire Strikes Back?

The first step to writing your book or movie is to have a half-formed idea on who your protagonist is. And most of the time, you’re really not aware that you’ve done it.

But deciding exactly who your protagonist is may be the most important decision you ever make.

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