The Lucas Method

This blog is not fictional writing, but rather detailing a personal writing process. It doesn't really deal with fan fiction per se, rather writing in general. I kind of learned this in relation to my own attempt to write a story based on Adam Strange/John Carter, so it is somewhat comic related, though I am not sure how close it is to writing fan fiction, though some of the advice still applies. When I first started writing, I was often stuck getting words out because I was worried too much about getting it right. This is when a friend relayed on the advice of Neil Gaiman - "Just get the words out." Though I don't necessarily agree with this at all times, it is a good piece of advice, even if it is a bit obvious. To write a person basically needs three attributes - imagination, technique and dedication. This piece of advice would cover the dedication aspect. Getting the words out works if you are technically skilled at writing (and if not then that can be learned, the only part of writing which can be learned in a formal setting) and if you have imagined the story, or at least aspects of the story. "Getting the words out" is a lot easier said than done though. If you are writing a story about space pirates and all you can write about is waterfalls, then it is not going to work in the end. This is where I got my own personal method for if a writer gets stuck and that is what I call the Lucas method.

Oops, not Isabel Lucas

This method is named after George Lucas and basically boils down to this : if you can't think of anything original, then rip off something that is like what you want. Lucas is a self admitted practitioner of this method of writing, having ripped key elements of Star Wars from Japanese samurai films and basing large parts of his movies from what he read in "Hero of a Thousand Faces." If someone needs further evidence of how good he is at the Lucas method and not so good at actual writing, rewatch Star Wars episode II for the romance between Anakin and Padme.

When I was writing my epic I ripped the following: Treasure Island, The Call of the Wild, The Martian Chronicles, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (or Lawrence of Arabia as the movie is known), Bridge on the River Kwai, and two semi-famous paintings. It creates a bit of a patchwork, but it fulfilled the goal of getting the words out, and if a writer has to resort to such methods, then so be it. Most likely, your any story will require a rewrite (and another one and another one ...) so you can smooth things out then and make these parts either less prominent or disappear completely. In some cases those things never get smoothed out. Look at Shawshank Redemption, often considered to be one of the top movies ever made. It ripped directly from Birdman of Alcatraz and the Great Escape, but just left those parts in after everything (it probably ripped some other prison movies that I haven't seen.) Of course writing requires a lot of research, in fact there are things that I never thought I would research that I have looked at, and there is nothing to say that those cannot come from movies or others films.

In the end it is a bit of a brute force method, but for an aspiring writer, I would recommend it to get going and get momentum behind your writing.

11 Comments
11 Comments
Posted by SpideyIvyDaredevilFan26

Posted by RazzaTazz
Moderator
Edited by dngn4774

@razzatazz: Nice blog! It has some useful advice, but I wouldn't actually practice it. I just really hate plagiarism, even if it comes with a disclaimer. It's one thing to use a favorite type of scene as your template but it's an entirely different thing if you use that scene to get credit on other peoples' ideas. I understand that every original idea is somewhat rooted from an older idea but there is a thin line between inspiration and theft in writing. I'd just take my chances in creating something more inaccurate and hope that I learn enough about the subject to polish it later on.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@dngn4774: I wasn't encouraging plagiarism, maybe that message didn't really come across in my blog. I am not entirely sure how literary plagiarism would happen anyway, I just meant more in the sense that Lucas used previous works as inspiration. R2D2 and C3P0 are based on two characters from some samurai film that followed their master around. It took Lucas' otherwise creative mind to make the leap to it being about robots in a galaxy far, far away.

Incidentally, I don't think Lucas is a bad writer, just that he excels when he is recycling ideas

Moderator
Posted by cbishop

Incidentally, I don't think Lucas is a bad writer, just that he excels when he is recycling ideas

Him and Alan Moore.

Posted by batkevin74

@cbishop said:

Him and Alan Moore.

And Garth Ennis!

Posted by ImpurestCheese

@razzatazz: In ecology it's called convergent evolution when two species from different families evolve to look similar. An example is Sharks and Dolphins. In a way if your writing a story with certain parameters within a genre then similarities will occur.

Posted by RazzaTazz
Moderator
Posted by DecoyElite

Personally I understand being influenced by something and I think wearing your influences on your sleeve is alright, but I think there's a thin line between influence and theft when it comes to actual ideas. Like having a character clearly inspired by Superman is alright, but having a character that's just "Superman except I don't want to be sued" is just lazy and terrible.

Posted by ImpurestCheese

@decoyelite: Is there a character you have in mind when you used this example <cough> Hyperion <cough>

@razzatazz: Thanks.

Edited by DecoyElite

@impurestcheese: I've heard some versions of Hyperion aren't too much of rip offs but yeah that's the style of character I'm talking about.