azurite: (twilight - literary syphilis)
[personal profile] azurite
So I was reading [livejournal.com profile] fanthropology when I stumbled across this little gem comparing the "Twilight" series to the "Harry Potter" series. In there is the exact reason why I like HP (and JKR) more than "Twilight" and SMeyer:

Twilight fans can criticize Potter for the plethora of deaths, but I'd rather have sadness that makes you grow and develop and completes a story than to completely stagnate the story so that nothing bad happens to the characters. SM could have given Edward and Bella and even Jacob a happy ending without resorting to the ridiculous.

And also, something that got me thinking about "style," and why certain books or authors with their particular style of writing, are "addictive" in nature, like you can't stop reading/can't put the book down:

Small details, minute details from the first few books became vitally important in the last several.

I like doing that with my own writing. I try and think of my stories as spiderwebs, where I'll drop a detail here, a detail there, and you won't know if it's important or not until later-- maybe not even until the next story. But I wouldn't include it if it WASN'T important, because that's a personal policy of mine. Why include extraneous stuff anyway, when it can just distract or detract from the overarching story?

Problem is, because I tend to write longer stuff, when I try and limit myself to one-shots or fluffy pieces (these days), it's difficult-- I can't make a complex "spiderweb" story with a one-shot! It's probably why I'm having such issues with ILB's fic-- the idea's all there, but when I try and translate the idea into prose, I don't know how to put it.

With WDKY26, it's similar, but not the same: see, I have the idea completely mapped out, I even have plenty of scenes written or at least vividly imagined, but I tend to think of scenes for the WDKY series out-of-order, and when I have to write in one of those scenes where the other scenes (that come before and after the scene in question) are already done, I worry about "Is the style going to be the same?" and "Is it going to read out of place?" It's not so much a matter of the scene not really being important, or me not knowing what details to drop-- often it's a choice between a lot and a little, not all or nothing. So I wonder if I should drop Detail A or Detail B here, or maybe both? How to do it? And then I get to thinking "WHY is Detail A or Detail B so important anyway? Is it worth including here when it won't get explored fully until # chapters later?"

Back to that article, I'm shocked by how many people misspelled "Stephenie Meyer" or various other elements of the "Twilight" series, e.g. "Cullen's" when they're talking about the whole family, and not a particular character's possession of something. I wonder if bad fiction breeds bad spelling?

That said, I think all the people that believe that "Twilight" is a richer/more complex plot than the "Harry Potter" series are living under a rock. Yes, the "Harry Potter" books are long, and there are many more of them than "Twilight" books, but it's the HP books that are still being discussed and examined; it's the HP books that have little details that spring up to great importance later on in the stories.

Not so with "Twilight," where Meyer takes the details she establishes in the first book and throws it away in the second or third or fourth one. And the Volturi are evil, not good, not different. They EAT CROWDS OF TOURISTS. They see themselves as the god-overseers of all vampires! WTF!? People are trying to say Voldemort is a wooden, stereotypical villain character because he kills and likes to kill, but how is that any different from the Volturi? Besides, at least Voldemort had follow-through; the Volturi in "Twilight" were like neutered vampires-- all this build-up of them being so scary and fearsome, but in the end, Bella just stood there and stared them down and THAT WAS IT. The decision to do that rather than having an epic fight only did two things: it made the Volturi look pathetic, and it made Bella even more of a Sue.

In the third question of this series, about the "lessons" each book series may have taught young readers, one reader from "Team Twilight" said that the lessons of "Harry Potter" were not as good or strong as those from "Twilight." I'm not going to argue that one book or the other doesn't have both good AND bad decisions, but "Twilight" by far has the worst lessons, IMO.

But this reader said: The Twilight series on the other hand teaches lesson of patience, self-control, sacrifice, responsibility. Bella and Edward make chastity a virtue again by waiting to take their relationship to the next physical level until they're married.

Patience? Self-control? You've got to be kidding me. Bella doesn't have the patience or self-control to stay in Phoenix. She thinks so poorly of her mother, sees herself as so superior to her (and Charlie) that she moves away, thinking she's being a martyr, doing the "right" thing for her mother and her new hubby.

Bella doesn't wait out to find out what she's feeling for Edward. She doesn't bother to date him or experience a normal relationship with him at all. She goes from being suspicious to "irrevocably in love" with him, when she's NOT EVEN 18.

Sacrifice? Bella was more than happy to throw away everything she had, thinking SHE knew what was best. Again, see Phoenix and Renee. She did the same thing with Charlie. If anything, Bella is ridiculously selfish and narrow-minded. She only thinks of herself and comes off as a whiny, emo girl in the process, as if we should all drop down and feel sorry for her and her plight(s). As the stories progressed, Bella didn't sacrifice her family or her friendships or her normal human life-- she didn't care enough about them in the first place. It's not a sacrifice if you're WILLING to give them up or throw them away so easily.

Edward didn't sacrifice anything, either. He took and took and KEPT TAKING-- control from Bella, mainly.

And responsibility? You MUST be joking. What's responsible about ditching your mother, about treating your father like a brainless child, about being rude to your classmates and "friends," about driving like a maniac (even if you can "live forever"), about getting married as a teenager and having a half-vampire baby promptly thereafter? What's responsible about hiring a con to forge documents (even if it's supposedly to protect the ones you love), about tricking people?

Everything this reader said is a bunch of bullshit, and I'm not scared to call her on it.

That said, if "Twilight" does have any lessons or merits, it is that you should fight for what you love and give it your all. Conversely, it's that you shouldn't take anything in your life for granted the way Bella does-- because she's far from a golden example of a perfect teenager or how to live at that age. But Meyer didn't intend for there to be any messages.

I'm reading "How to read Literature Like a Professor" right now, and there's a bit in it about whether or not authors intend to have certain things be symbolic-- you know for X to stand for Y or something. To a degree, no, I don't think authors INTEND every little detail to be rich in significance. But I do think most authors (most) think "Why should I include this detail?" and then explain it in their heads somehow. That explanation may not come out in the actual prose, but that's why stories are examined and analyzed in literature classes.

Let's look at a fandom: in the Sailor Moon R movie, there's a scene where Sailor Moon is caught by the villain, Fiore, who has been taken over by the Kisenian flower, a demonic alien plant that can take numerous forms. Kisenian!Fiore captures Sailor Moon and she's strung up with her arms splayed out at her sides, her legs tied together, and vines pinning her head back.

Anyone can see right away that she's mimicking (albeit unintentionally) Christ's crucifixion. That sort of symbol shows up when the author/producer/whoever wants to show "this person is going to sacrifice everything they have to save humanity." Usagi's not a male in her 30s. She doesn't fit a lot of what people might call "Jesus traits." But she's got the sacrificial bit down pat. People don't need to show us a literal cross or Jesus himself or have the voice of God booming from above to get the symbolism of a person tied up in that fashion. We know what it means, we know what it represents, we know what it foreshadows.

So in Meyer saying that she didn't INTEND for there to be any messages is just like her saying she wrote whatever mental diarrhea came out of her head. Even in fanfiction, even if they don't realize it when they first come up with the idea, people have messages. For Meyer to say that hers were unintentional means there's not much thought behind her story or her characters. It also means she's fairly incapable of taking a step back from her story as the author and examining it as a reader might.

ANY story --from those published in Playboy to those ficlets you might find here on LJ-- has a message. It can be a deep, rich message or it can be a silly, stupid little message. But there's almost ALWAYS a point, a plot, a message. They're all synonyms. If a person doesn't intend for there to be a message, they might as well be saying "there's no plot, there's no point." Even in stories where you're just out to "have a good time," you're thinking to yourself "What gives others enjoyment?" You think of elements that give others pleasure, that make them enjoy reading a story, and you include them. People like an adrenaline rush, people like sex, people like stories that challenge them and make them think. So you write those things in, you try and "pull them off" by incorporating them all (tying them together) in a story. It's that sense of awareness that connects the readers to the writer, and Meyer just doesn't have that.

I wonder if she thinks her readers are stupid.

Seriously, to say something like (paraphrased) "the books have no message, there was never any intention for there to be a message; it was just written for people to enjoy it and have a good time"...? I thought the POINT of "Twilight" that even Meyer would address is that it's a "love story," and that love is worth fighting for, no matter what the odds. That would be a message, but she didn't even acknowledge that.

I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Annalisa Freeman: In Twilight, we learn that true love comes hard, fast, is all encompassing, and most importantly trumps all else in our lives. Life ends when you get a boyfriend. In some cases (as with imprinting) love is out of our control and excuses the type and form of our love and even our behavior because love at first sight takes our ability to think and choose for ourselves hostage. According to Twilight, love makes it reasonable for you to sneak a boy into your room and lie about it to your parents. A relationship that goes from intriguing to intense in nothing flat becomes the center of your universe and the only relationship that truly matters. In fact, everyone else in your life may as well disapparate because they become meaningless. It did not appear that Bella ever once thought of her high school friends past the meadow scene or mourned the fact that she would never see them again once she became a vampire, friends that were rather prominent in Twilight but slowly became less of a backdrop until they were completely absent in Breaking Dawn.

While there is encouragement for education from Edward, this girl who gets married right out of high school because she can't wait to have sex, doesn't really care that she develops or learns or grows anymore. All that is important to her is Edward. I know that when you get married, the world around you fades and your family becomes most important, but when you start dating in high school, and rarely do people marry their first love, you need to keep a balance between relationship and life. Your friends (and your grades) aren't always going to be happy to greet you back in their inner circle once your passion dies out. So when you're out searching for your ideal Edward (or Jacob if you prefer) don't ditch the rest of your life for him.

The saga portrays female characters that are weak and need to be cared for by a man and male characters who are overbearing, forceful, and a little too intense. Men in real life who are intense and overbearing may make for a romantic chase, but that anger just below the surface can be a scary characteristic once the relationship develops. While Edward makes a fascinating vampire, I'm not entirely impressed by SM's vision of the perfect boyfriend and wonder what type of boyfriends this generation of Edward-obsessed fans are out to find.


*sigh* I do believe I've babbled enough on that for now.

But I'm still questing to find out what my "style" is. I think you can only "learn" to write (well) by reading a lot, and so I am. I'm examining a lot of what I've read and trying to figure out what I liked and why. Fiction, non-fiction, fanfiction... anything goes.

I like JKR's writing because she makes every detail vital. Even heroes aren't perfect and don't try to pass themselves off as such, not even to their mentors, classmates, friends, etc. In the end, you have to know what really matters most: those people you cherish. You only have one life to live, and it's worth living to the fullest because of that.

I'd like to think that in my writing, my heroes and heroines have similar attitudes and personalities in that they come across as human and therefore relatable. Not just "I want to be him/her! OMG!" Even in series with a fantasy-twist, I've always liked exploring the more "human" element: the drama and the angst, the romance and the comedy that come as part of everyday life, the life without the magic.

Life is a great story just waiting to be told, isn't it?

 Cleric Preston by Klaus Badelt from Equilibrium (Rating: 0)

Date: 2008-12-29 05:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] miameirohara.livejournal.com
Thank you so very much for writing this.

January 2016

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