top of page
Search

Breaking Plots: The Empire’s Next Top Fashion Designer

In this, my inaugural blog, we're going to have fun! Our goal is to learn about plot by breaking one that works. In short, we're going to break Star Wars. What's more, we're going to do it by changing only one plot point.



All plot points in a story are interdependent. If you screw with one (as we're about to do) it disrupts the balance of your whole story. To bring it back into balance, you must adjust the other plot points. ... But how much is a story affected by changing a single plot point? Well, let's find out.

Here’s our before snapshot. These are the plot points in Star Wars before we break the story.

  1. Person – Luke Skywalker is a farm boy.

  2. Place – Luke lives on his Aunt and Uncle’s moisture farm.

  3. Want/Desire – Luke wants to join the rebellion and fight the empire.

  4. Problem – Luke can’t join the Rebellion because his Aunt and Uncle need him to work on the farm.

  5. Inciting Event – Luke stumbles across a hidden message from Princess Leia who's been kidnapped.

  6. Disaster – Stormtroopers kill Luke’s Aunt and Uncle.

  7. Dilemma – Luke must decide what he’s going to do with his life.

Option 1: Return to his dead Aunt and Uncle’s house or

Option 2: Go with Obi-Wan into space to rescue Princess Leia.

Remember, the dilemma forces the Main Character into a situation where they must choose between two (or more) options. Option 1 will be bad. Option 2 will be worse (more risk). But Option 2 also offers the Main Character an opportunity to get what he wants. In Luke’s case, he wants to join the Rebellion and fight the Empire.

Nice plot, right? Take a moment to savour it. Next, comes the fun part.


Act 1

To break this plot, we're going to change Luke's Want/Desire.

Previous Want/Desire - Luke wants to join the rebellion and fight the empire.

New Want/Desire - Luke wants to become The Empire’s Next Top Fashion Designer!


Problem

Now that Luke’s Want/Desire has changed, we need to nudge his Problem into alignment.

Previous Problem - Luke can’t join the Rebellion because his Aunt and Uncle need him to work on the farm.

New Problem - Luke can’t become The Empire’s Next Top Fashion Designer because he has to help his Aunt and Uncle run their tacky retail store.

Why did I choose a tacky retail clothing store? Because it plays directly against Luke’s Want/Desire (Fashion v/s tacky retail clothing).


Inciting Incident

The Inciting Incident needs to disrupt the status quo. While uncovering a secret message from Princess Leia can disrupt Luke's Status Quo, it misses the mark. Instead, we need something that touches on Luke's Want/Desire.

Previous Inciting Incident - Luke stumbles across a hidden message from Princess Leia who's been kidnapped

New Inciting Incident - Luke stumbles across an advertisement: Wanted; innovative person to design next season’s stormtrooper apparel. For more information, please visit your local Empire Recruitment Outpost.

Okay, this isn’t what Luke was hoping for. He wants to work in fashion. He wants the glam, baby! —not moulding plastic to fit a clone's ass!


Disaster

The disaster needs to back the Main Character backed against the wall. Everything they knew, or thought they knew, has gone out the window. Life will never be the same again. While having stormtroopers murder Luke’s Aunt and Uncle will achieve this, it’s not a very good fit. Why? Because the Disaster needs to abolish the status Quo and directly AND directly relate to the Problem.

Previous Disaster - Stormtroopers kill Luke’s Aunt and Uncle.

New Disaster - Stormtroopers arrest Luke’s Aunt and Uncle for fashion crimes (see Galactic Law, Article 9, sub paragraph 892-897). If Luke can’t prove their innocence, they’ll be roasted on an Ewok-style rotisserie at the Empire’s annual team building away-day on Endor.


Dilemma

By this point, the old story has gone out the window, and Luke is facing a whole new set of choices.

Previous Choices - Option 1: Return to his dead Aunt and Uncle’s house. Or, Option 2: Go with Obi-Wan into space to rescue Princess Leia.

New Choices - Option 1: Abandon his Aunt and Uncle to their fate. Or, Option 2: Signed up at the Galactic Recruitment Outpost to assist in designing next season’s stormtrooper apparel.

Naturally, Luke chooses Option 2. Sure, it poses far greater personal risk, but it also provides him an opportunity to fulfil his Want/Desire. The keyword here is "opportunity". What's more, it also gives him an opportunity to save his Aunt and Uncle. Notice, we now have two Wants/Desires instead of one.


Acts 2 and 3

Before we go on, remember that all the plot points in your story are interdependent. If you screw with one (as we've done above) it disrupts the balance of your whole story. To bring it back into balance, you must adjust the other plot points. To that end, let’s bring balance back to Star Wars!

In Acts 2 and 3 we look at Luke’s try/fail cycles. These are Luke’s attempts to achieve his goals. So, now we join Luke after he’s signed up to assist in designing next season’s stormtrooper apparel.


Try/Fail Cycle 1

Surprise. The next season’s stormtrooper apparel will be released at a runway show on Endor (other activities include pony rides, gambling, and a free human BBQ. Bring the kids! Fun for all). The only way he can get close enough to his Aunt and Uncle to save them is to be at that runway show. But there’s a problem. Luke must compete against other fashion designers to get the position. (Use the chiffon, Luke.)

So, Luke creates a fashion line that focuses wholly on aesthetics (because that’s his thing). But the judges don’t like his work. Worse, the judges tell Luke to pack his bags and go home. Luke is frustrated (1) because he believed in his fashion line and (2) he still needs to find a way to save his Aunt and Uncle.


Try/Fail Cycle 2

As Luke packs his bags to leave, he sees two stormtroopers walking down the hall picking a wedge, “Dude, I hate the way these outfits ride up. I hope they fix it this year.” To which, the other stormtrooper replies, “Don’t hold your breath. Fashion designers are all about style. They have no sense of practicality.” Now, Luke has an idea.

Luke designs a new stormtrooper fashion line which focuses heavily on practicality. He presents his new line in a runway elimination showdown and wins. Luke gets the job. Now he can get close enough to his Aunt and Uncle to save them.

As for Luke’s inner journey, he now has solid evidence that fashion is more than aesthetics. It’s about practicality too. While this truth is now indisputable, Luke has invested years of his life focusing only on aesthetics. To change now would be like throwing away all his years of experience and starting from scratch. In short, he refuses to embrace this new truth.


Try/Fail Cycle 3

Luke arrives at his runway show. While everyone else is enjoying the fashion show, Luke slips away to set his Aunt and Uncle free. But when he gets there, Darth Vader is waiting. Darth Vader is so impressed by Luke’s product line, that he offers Luke a full contract for the new season’s look. This includes prize money, a private room on the Death Star, four weeks annual leave, and a retirement plan that would have put Yoda on Alderaan rather than the swamp in the Dagobah System. This is everything Luke has ever dreamed of. The alternative is to try to muscle part this heavy-breathing hunk of plastic, save his kin, and go back to working their tacky fashion retail chain.

“Join me Luke,” Vader says. “Together we can rule the fashion industry in this Galaxy.”

Luke knows what he must do. “Thank you, Vader. Also, I’ve designed a special outfit just for you.” Luke whips up a new outfit for Vader based on practicality (his, not Vader’s). It’s made of shrink-wrap. Then Luke guides Vader into the crowd to show off the new look. They stop right beside the piping hot rotisserie. The heat from the rotisserie pulls Vader’s shrink-wrap outfit tight around him. Luke turns up the heat and saved his Aunt and Uncle while Vader is incapacitated.


Denouement

Luke returns to Tatooine with his Aunt and Uncle. Luke fully understands the value of practicality over aesthetics in fashion design, thus completing his internal arc. Luke’s Aunt and Uncle are impressed with how much Luke has grown in his fashion awareness. They hire Luke to design a new fashion line for their store. The clothes are no longer tacky—they’re trendy and practical. Suddenly, the galaxy and this story is in balance once more.

End


Summary of Findings

So, the findings of this little exercise aren’t surprising (mainly because I’ve already mentioned it twice). All plot points in a story are interdependent. If you screw with one (as we've done above) it disrupts the balance of your whole story. To bring it back into balance, you must adjust the other plot points.


37 views6 comments

6 Comments


Crystal Crawford
Crystal Crawford
Oct 14, 2021

I loved this! Practical (like Luke's new fashion line) AND entertaining. :)

Like
Replying to

Thanks! It was really fun to write and I surprised myself with the twists and turns. 😜

Like

c.lisle
c.lisle
Oct 14, 2021

This was hilarious! But you really needed a bouncy castle along with the pony rides.

Like
Replying to

Thanks. And that's the key. Suprise the reader in ways that they'll love 🙂

Like
bottom of page