On Tor’s website, you’ll find a brilliant series of articles on the portrayal of PTSD in fiction. If you’ve got the time, I highly recommend giving them a read before diving into this piece, but in brief, they argue that stories tend to handle PTSD (and mental health issues in general) pretty terribly. Often, characters will simply power through experiences which should leave them psychologically crippled (”Dresden Files,” I’m looking straight at you!), or deal with the trauma in a single, restorative scene, going back to their old selves immediately after. In other words, the trauma is often used as a simple plot device, which…well, let’s just say it should raise some serious questions for us as writers.
As everyone is well aware of by now, Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s handling of Luke Skywalker was…controversial. Even Mark Hamill wasn’t initially happy with what Rian Johnson did with the character. Although he has since given the story his blessing, it’s worth taking a look at his vision for how Luke might have dealt with the fall of Ben Solo and the destruction of his training temple.
As promised, it’s time to dissect The Force Awakens, exploring its most glaring flaws and proposing some solutions without scrapping the entire thing. I favor this approach for two reasons. First, I actually like what the new trilogy tries to do quite a bit, and don’t want to throw it out wholesale. Second, and more importantly for our purposes, starting over from scratch doesn’t make for interesting or informative critique so much as…well, fan fiction. I’d much rather tweak and improve the story we actually got than try to build something brand new.
“Writing Matters” is the best creative writing program I’ve ever taken, and it was obvious from day one that our professors weren’t screwing around when they chose that title. Marilyn was ruthless when it came to amateur screenwriting mistakes like overusing exposition and flashbacks, and she’d get up in your face if she thought…