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The Story of Star Wars Is Our Story

For those who grew up in the era of Star Wars, the 40th anniversary of the space opera franchise is something to celebrate. Even if you’re a latecomer to the series, enticed by all the hoopla and impressed with the last two Star Wars movies, you can appreciate the 40-year history and the accumulated achievement of nine films, dozens of books, countless games and apps, plus the endless array of licensed merchandise. One estimate puts the value of all Star Wars films and products at $41 billion, or just over a billion dollars for every year Star Wars has been around.

These are staggering numbers, but there’s another even more impressive number: One. Millions of people have experienced Star Wars, either by working on the creative side of production or paying for the consumer products, but the genius of Star Wars comes from just one source. And it isn’t George Lucas. In fact, it isn’t a person, but a story.

Yes, George Lucas wrote and directed Star Wars: A New Hope, the movie that started it all. And he also wrote outlines for nine stories. But the original story was not his idea. It came from a place long ago and far away.

In fact, the story of Star Wars is the story of the ages, central to every great story ever told. The Star Wars story is the story of the human race. It’s also the story of God, the greatest Storyteller of them all, who in His book gave us the three plot points that are not only at the heart of Star Wars and every compelling story you have ever read or heard, but are also the framework for all humanity: Creation, Fall, Redemption.

Go ahead, write a story around these three words. Every writer worth his or her salt has crafted a story around these three words. You could do it too. Just follow these simple steps:

  • Start with a heroic character (Luke Skywalker, Frodo, Star-Lord/Peter Quill)
  • Put that character in an impossible situation (the Evil Empire wants to destroy the resistance, Sauron wants to conquer and rule Middle-earth, Thanos wants to annihilate the galaxy).
  • Show the hero coming back from impossible odds (spoiler alert: usually someone has to die)

Great books and movies are based on this simple three-act plot structure. Lucas didn’t invent it. He merely gave the framework some new clothes by setting his story in space and filling it with an unlikely hero, dozens of colorful characters, one great villain, and the hope that better days are ahead.

That’s what we should be celebrating. Not George Lucas and the Star Wars movies, books, merchandise—even the theme park rides—but the story that makes all of it possible. Because it’s not just George Lucas’ story. It’s our story as well.
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