Since no one ever reads my posts at any of my blogs I’m going to cheat and copy. Nanny nanny boo boo.
This a lesson about writing I learned from the movie Twilight. This isn’t specific to writing suspense and mysteries or YA or anything else. This is just something interesting I observed after watching this movie and then listening to the people in the lobby talk.
To be honest, and why not be AJ Chase isn’t really my name (Ha!), I’m just not that into Twilight. My best friend who, thankfully, is not a teenage girl is obsessed. She will rip the throat of any person who does not enthuse with her out with her teeth. She is in her mid thirties. I personally find Edward sort of interesting in a clinical way and I’d like to hit Bella in the head repeatedly with a hammer. (Um, sorry. I do murder people every day, as it were.) I am not blaming Stephanie Meyers for this. Maybe she was a really annoying teenager herself, but more likely it was just the character she stumbled upon. And frankly I admire her and wish that I could rake in that kind of cash. Boo ya baby.
This Bella hatred is not made better by the movie. I am getting to the lesson believe me, the Bella hatred plays in. It isn’t made better because I can not stand Kristen Stewart. Everything she’s ever done is testament to how she’s the female version of Keanu Reeves. Not only do her acting skills include such range as “Vacuous” and “Slightly less Vacuous” she’s on a global tour giving interviews and trying to prove to the world that she’s the most irritating person in it.
So it’s with this double combination whammy of a TSTL heroine and a really awful actress that I approach this movie. I’m reserving judgement about Cedrick. Whatever his name is. Robert Something. I think he did a good job as Cedrick anyway. The best part of this movie going experience, bar none, was when Edward comes into the cafeteria in sexed up slow mo, trying to be one of the beautiful people. I couldn’t find an exact picture of the moment but he looks a little like this.
As soon as he comes in the door some teenaged girl starts clapping madly. I thought this was hilarious and was already laughing. Then my husband, who was with me on a date, leans over and whispers, “He looks like a mime.” I literally had to bite my hand to keep from breaking down into giggles that will get me thrown out of the theater.
When the hilarity is finished bad acting ensues and I find Robert Edwardguy tolerable. But I think he’s funny looking and I’m not sure I understand what the attraction is for either one of them. But the more I watch the hotter Robert Edwardguy becomes to me until I’m a little ashamed about how hot he’s looking considering that he’s barely legal. So I’m alright with the Edward guy. He’ll do. And if nothing else he’s nice to look at. Kristen Stewart thinks looking pained is the same as emoting and we watch two hours of Bella looking like she has constipation and then the movie is over. I thought it was decent. Visually very stimulating, and no I’m not talking about Edward I’m talking about scenery, and though the special effects were less than impressive I’m not leaving the theater sad that there’s two hours I’ll never get back.
And here’s where the lesson came in. I’m waiting in the lobby and then in the bathroom. Everyone is talking about the movie and I’m able to listen to what they’re saying. What it boils down to is this. The majority of them liked Kristen Stewart. They thought she made a great Bella. I almost missed the lesson because I was so completely stumped by this. But I eventually realized this is because these books are not about Bella despite the fact that it’s in first person. It’s about Edward. The only emotions she has are those that relate to Edward. Then they all started talking about Edward. What I heard, over and over, was that Edward was hot, yes, but he didn’t have the charisma that he had in the book. That they couldn’t see how he would have the ability to charm people into giving in to him. He just seemed like a normal charismatic kid, but not the same as Edward. In fact, he had to say he was able to charm people instead of it just showing.
And then I thought to myself, “WTH?” Because, really. Edward is a fictional character people. He has a fictional charisma that is a powerful biproduct of his fiction powers as a fictional vampire. Robert Edwardguy is a Brit in his early twenties with a signifigantly bad hair cut. (Really, really bad haircut.) Do they really expect him to be able to portray this bizarre level of lethal charisma? Yes, they do. And they’re mad about it.
Because they love Edward.
This is the power that we have as writers. That’s what it really breaks down to. How amazing is this concept? Every single person who reads and loves a book has a picture in their head. That picture will never match that of another reader. The problem every hard core fan will have with a movie is that it will never match their picture because it came from the mental images of someone else. We are the purveyors of these images. The creators of the original picture. The Edwards and Darcys and Dark Hunters come from our brains. And they go into other people’s and those people are really freaking passionate about them. And what that really boiled down to for me, as a writer, was a lesson in my responsibility.
Yeah, maybe it sounds a little silly but think of how people freak if a movie is badly done, not what they saw in their own little word window. That’s the responsibility of the director, the producer, the actors. We have a responsibility too. To write the best characters that we can so that they have the capability of becoming real for our readers. Maybe not real enough that they forget human beings aren’t capable of portraying magic powers, but real enough to touch their hearts and live in their minds. We aren’t just writers here. We’re people who are allowing others to live in a better place for just a little while. What an awesome responsibility. And we get to have fun while we’re doing it. We have the best job on earth.