Currently a creative executive in the Lucasfilm Story Group, Pablo Hidalgo probably knows the ins and outs of the incredibly complicated and ornate Star Wars saga better than just about anyone alive, George Lucas included. But during the 1990s, during those weird middle years between the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy, Hidalgo still had a lot to learn about the ways of the Jedi. Recently, Hidalgo tweeted some excerpts from an interesting 1994 style guide distributed by West End Games (WEG), the makers of Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game and the Star Wars Adventure Journal. Along with some practical advice about the proper use of periods and hyphens, the style guide also contains scads of good advice to aspiring writers who wanted to create within the Star Wars universe. WEG was happy to work with Star Wars fanatics with a creative bent, but the company had to set down some basic guidelines. Hence the friendly booklet. “Read it,” advises the title page. “Use it. Live and write by it.”
So what were the pitfalls that WEG was hoping to avoid? For one thing, they were sick of Tatooine, home planet of Luke Skywalker. This particular excerpt is especially of note, as it is very open about invoking other genres and franchises, including Indiana Jones and Star Trek, as well as “lightweight cyberpunk.”
WEG also wanted its authors to stop using superlatives and making sweeping generalizations about the Star Wars universe.
When it comes to writing about the Empire, it’s important to remember that the bad guys of Star Wars are evil but not insane. When they do rotten things, like blowing up a peaceful planet, it’s for a reason.
And speaking of the prequel trilogy, maybe they could have been avoided altogether if Lucas had only read this style guide. One of WEG’s clearly stated rules of writing Star Wars is, “Do not talk about the past.”