A Padawan’s Journal, Entry #2: Pitching Light Speed Fastballs

han_solo2I’ve been asked if anybody can pitch for the Star Wars team. The answer is “no.” You gotta be drafted (or be a Padawan with a really powerful Jedi Master). 🙂

I’d like to say a word about my Jedi Master—Michael Reaves. He is, in a word, awesome. He has an innate sense of story and an encyclopedic knowledge of the metaphysics of Star Wars. And it is the metaphysics of the GFFA that fascinates him. I’ve worked with Michael on five books now, and I love the way our voices and abilities mesh. When we finished Mr. Twilight (Del Rey, 2006) there were times when neither of us could remember who wrote the original passages because our voices merged so beautifully. I owe Michael a debt of gratitude, too, for introducing me to the challenge and joy of writing in the Galaxy Far, Far Away.

But back to my original thought … pitching a Star Wars story.

Some time ago Ann Crispin was invited to write a trilogy that created back story for Han Solo because fans wanted to know what the irrepressible scoundrel had been up to in the years before he showed up in that cantina in Mos Eisley.

Many years and many volumes of Star Wars lore down the line, the canon for the major characters has been pretty well established, so writers work more and more either outside the well-traveled timelines, or with characters that “co-exist” in the same time as the big three (Leia, Luke and Han) but in a different part of the Star Wars galaxy.

cn1_jedi-twilightI came into the galaxy far, far away through Michael Reaves when he invited me to work with him on the Coruscant Nights series (JEDI TWILIGHT, STREET OF SHADOWS, and PATTERNS OF FORCE). I was probably the first person to see the draft manuscripts for the first two books and … well, obviously I saw the draft for the third as I was working on it.

I first saw Holostar’s story-line as an emailed pitch of about three paragraphs that Michael had sent to our editor at Del Rey. This pitch also went to Lucasfilm Ltd. and came back annotated with comments, questions and a sort of editorial “wish list” about plot elements and time lines and what other characters we might use.

Our next task was to produce a solid outline for the novel. I did some research on the time period and the characters we were proposing to use, did a quick first draft outline and sent it off to Michael. Michael, God bless him, came up with a gem of an idea that answered the top item on our editor’s wish list most elegantly and made me Snoopy dance all over my office. (No, I’m not going to tell you what the item was. My lips are sealed until the “official documents” are unsealed at HQ—aka StarWars.com).

I did one more edit pass over the outline (now nine pages long) to make sure that all the droids were in a row, then sent it off to Del Rey. Then we waited what seemed a long time in “writer years,” but then everything seems like a long time in “writer years.” We got the word that we were good to go except for some issues we needed to handle in the timeline.

I hit the books again, researching the various story arcs to make sure we didn’t violate something. I read several older novels, checked the pertinent resource guides (more on that later) and answered all the questions. Pretty neatly, too I thought.

Then we got the thumbs up on the revised outline and the real work began.

Oh, and to read my work at Book View Cafe, please visit my Bookshelf.

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A Padawan’s Journal, Entry #2: Pitching Light Speed Fastballs — 4 Comments

  1. Boy, I can’t wait for the next post of your ‘Padawan’s Journal’. Please keep on with your chats about the backstory of SW books making.

  2. Interesting. I approve of the fact that you looked at the books themselves. Primary sources >> compendiums when it comes to getting this stuff right; we fans tend to appreciate this sort of thing. 😀

  3. Thank you, Zannah and Keralys!

    We aim to please. The whole point of writing these books is to engage the fans … and to make you feel as if you really have been transported to a Galaxy Far, Far Away. 🙂