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A Look at the Trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens



Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the trailer for the new Star Wars film came out.

I wanted to talk about the trailer in the context of storytelling. The trailer says so much without saying anything at all really, it implies things and lets you infer so much information that you wonder if you're even coming to the right conclusions.

This is one of the things the Star Wars films does the best in the first place, but perhaps none was better than Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.  You're thrown into a world and given bits of context that you don't understand completely, but understand enough to keep up with the story.

For Example: "The Emperor has dissolved the Senate permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away." Think about seeing that movie for the first time and the images that statement conjures. It says a lot, sure, but it implies even more.

All of the Star Wars movies have this quality. Think about what you knew about The Clone Wars before the prequels came out. Think about what you know of the "living Force" versus the "cosmic Force" now that we do have the prequels. And look at this trailer. Our knowledge of what's gone on is what's working on us here and building the mystery. We remember Return of the Jedi and we know that Luke was told to teach more Jedi. Where are the Jedi? Where is Luke?

We know that the Rebellion was fighting for the freedom of the galaxy and we thought we saw their final celebration on Endor. But this? This trailer tells us that something in the galaxy has gone horribly, horribly wrong in the intervening years. Only by juxtaposing our knowledge against our lack of it are they able to drive this mystery.

What's happened? We get hints here, which makes it incredibly effective, but no answers. Now, in a film trailer, this is something that you're supposed to do. Give just enough away to get people into the theatre.

But isn't that what we're supposed to do with every chapter and every page of a book? Keep driving at those mysteries and begging those questions to get people to be turning pages. Think about how you could fashion an opening chapter that has as much tantalizing mystery as a film trailer. And then ask as many questions as you answer in subsequent chapters. That's what makes a page-turner. People HAVE to know what's going to happen next. This is what Star Wars taps into so easily.

Think about how you can do that with your work. Ponder endlessly about how you can tap into it.

Or maybe don't. Maybe I'm just in the midst of a terrible bout of Star Wars rabies.

That's a distinct possibility.

(To prove it, you can watch me watching the trailer above for the first time.)

As for my publications recently, the new issue of Star Wars Insider is out (issue #161) and I have at least one article in it, this one is about Disney Infinity 3.0 and how they incorporated Star Wars into it. BUT! That's not why you HAVE to buy it. It's got a short story inside of it that ties to Battlefront, but it's written by my good friend Janine Spendlove.

I would like to remind everyone that Escape Vector and The Aeronaut are both currently available for preorder (signed by me here, and through Amazon here.) It would mean a lot to me, more than you know, if you could pre-order them if you're going to buy them.

As a reminder, here's a list of "rules and guidelines" I've been collecting over my years of studying writing advice and process. There are links to dozens of essays I've written about each individual bullet point and I think some people find it helpful.

As far as my work outside of all this: There's a lot of great stuff on Big Shiny Robot! and Full of Sith for you. 

And please, please, please don't forget to check out any of my books, drop reviews of them on Amazon or Goodreads, and follow me on twitter and Facebook!
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