In the mid-‘90s, the Star Wars galaxy grew rapidly, thanks to the rise of the then-fledgling Expanded Universe, In fact, there were special writer’s bibles to help people pitch material that felt like Star Wars. Looking back at these style guides with the knowledge of the Star Wars films that came after them, though, can be surprisingly hilarious.
Star Wars lore chronicler (OK, “Lucasfilm Story Group Creative Executive” to be all fancy and official) Pablo Hidalgo has been tweeting out extracts from the 1994 Star Wars Style Guide Version 2.0, given to writers working on the old Star Wars tabletop roleplaying game from West End Games.
Designed so writers could invent new scenarios, worlds, and characters that fit Lucasfilm’s vision of the Star Wars galaxy for players to utilise in their tabletop games, the style guide was a “do’s and don’ts” tome of advice that would help forge a coherent, and fresh, batch of new Star Wars content that fit with the universe presented in the original trilogy.
But it turns out, a lot of Star Wars material since went on to pretty much ignore that advice. Here’s just a few of Hidalgo’s tweets about the book:
Could’ve done with this being repeated when Starkiller Base showed up in The Force Awakens.
“Say hello to my new character. He’s a farm boy from Tatooine who is secretly force sensitive and was totally Luke’s best friend when he was a kid, Luke just doesn’t talk about it any more because his mind got wiped with force powers. Oh, and he grew up and met Han Solo once, and Han Solo thought he was totally rad.” Speaking of which...
Remember those heady days when people were still so adamant that Jakku was secretly Tatooine for some reason? Oh, if only the 1994 Star Wars style guide had been listened to!
The gift of hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course. And simply because at some point some of this was a big no-no for Star Wars writers doesn’t mean these elements appearing in later material automatically makes that material bad. As Hidalgo ruminated after posting the extracts, these weren’t hard rules—they were designed to keep writers from pitching the same kind of story again and again. These things could happen, but they had to co-exist alongside stories that offered something fresh and unique so the whole expanded universe could thrive.
It is brilliantly prescient though.