Friday, January 13, 2012

Don't Be a Hater

The good writer's habit sparkly vampires can teach you

by Dave Butler

Sparkly Edward Cullen fell in love with his favorite food
So Bella finally gets her moment along with Edward in the woods, and it's intimate and dangerous and they each reveal their true self, and in the sunlight, unexpectedly, the dashing vampires… sparkles.  What the hell?  This has got to be the single stupidest thing ever written on the page of a novel, hasn't it?  Vampires don't sparkle, they burst into flame and die horribly, or they evaporate into smoke or shrivel up or turn into bats or something, but… sparkle?

It's easy to resent success.  It's easy to read great-selling books like the Twilight series or Harry Potter (see Tuesday's entry) and snipe about their many shortcomings.  Here's the thing: that's a waste of your time, and it's probably just envy talking.

What are you talking about, Butler?  Aren't you the guy who took down Harry Potter just three days ago?  Nope, I'm not.  I'm the guy that pointed out a weakness in the storytelling of the popular books, as an analytical matter, so that you could see the principle involved and avoid making the same mistake in your own writing.  And that is what you need to do about big-selling books.  It's okay to see their weaknesses, but the thing you have to do is think about their strengths.  It's foolish to dismiss Meyer or Rowling as lucky; the fact is, they wrote books that appealed to agents and editors and buyers so much that, even though they were both debut authors, they rocketed to the tops of the charts.

Success is susceptible of analysis.  So it's okay to observe that Twilight also lacks a plot, and that it is thin on the ground in subplots, and that its characters are two-dimensional.  But ask yourself this question: what did Stephanie Meyer do right?  She did something that made millions of people love her… what was it?

I think it was the longing.  I think it was the vision that Bella has of Edward, which is a perfect Byronic / Jungian archetype of the self-restraining, deep, sensitive man who is dangerous, means more than he says and had the unusual insight to spot the great secret, perfect beauty of the heroine.  But maybe I'm wrong, and it was something else.  What do you think?

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