Monday, December 08, 2008

A breakthrough...

This chilly winter Monday morning, I have a confession...

I'm a TWILIGHT fan.

Yep. I am. Oh, I fought it. I read the novel for the sole purpose of seeing what all the hype was about, figuring I'd finish the last chapter, smirk, and say "that was soooo not a big deal" and then rip the book apart, mistake by penned mistake.

Instead, I read the last pages with a pounding heart and a strange sense of melancholy. Edward and Bella were going away--at least until I could get my hands on book two in the series, NEW MOON. Any writing-craft boo-boos were ignored by my roving eyes eagerly devouring each paragraph. I'm realizing more and more that story trumps craft every single time. But that's an argument for another blog! =)

I went and saw the movie yesterday with my sister and it was sooooo great seeing Edward and Bella and all their family/friends "live". I thought the movie was wonderful - but ONLY because I read the book first and already loved the characters. If you're not into the books, you might not like the movie. It probably won't make a lot of sense because it isn't filmed like most blockbuster hits. At times its almost like a series of scenes, some of which would be pretty boring if you hadn't read the story first and knew what the characters were thinking/feeling in those scenes. Other times you might feel scenes are pretty cheesy, but again, having read the book first, you're sucked in to the moment and instead find it to be the most romantic thing ever.

At one point I sucked in my breath and looked over at my sister and whispered "I keep forgetting to breathe!!" She cracked up and admitted to having just thought/realized the exact same thing.

So that brings me to the question...why is TWILIGHT so good? What makes it so addicting? What made me immediately start siding with and rooting for the characters, cheering them on? What made me stay up at night, already with a headache, and read solely by light of the TV because I was holding Audrey and didn't want to wake her up to turn on a lamp? What made it so irresistible???

I think I figured it out.

Conflict.

Bella and Edward have one of the best series of conflicts in a novel I've ever seen. A girl and a vampire in love, well, you can't really find a better reason for why they can't be together. But even more than that, he's a vampire who is particularly drawn to Bella's scent. Because of that fact, the stakes (pardon the pun! haha) are high from the first moment they meet. The conflict is poignant from the beginning and only increases the more they can't resist being together.

So there is the personal conflict of why the hero and heroine can't be together. Then there is the external conflict of their circumstances and the suspense - other vampires coming after them.

Then there is the internal conflicts. Edward is tortured because he doesn't want to be the monster he is supposed to be, but he isn't sure he can resist his urge toward Bella.

And speaking of urges, there is the sexual tension/conflict because they can't be together physically because Edward is afraid of not being able to control himself. He doesn't want to hurt Bella - either by killing her as a vampire would, or by not being able to control his extraordinary strength. (which is fantastic, because YA novels of late have sex on half a dozen pages! Yay for abstinence in a YA novel, even if the motive isn't because of regular morals...)

The variety of conflict makes this book a page turner, makes us love the characters and want them to succeed, and makes us guaranteed to buy the series. Therefore, a success.

Sigh.

Every author dreams of writing such a story, a novel that is gobbled up by the masses and made into a movie and obtains instant success. Not because we want to get rich (though I'm sure Stephanie Meyer isn't minding the cash flow coming in! ha!) but because we want to touch someone. We want to make them feel the way we feel when we read the classics. We want our stories to linger in the reader's mind and we want our characters to become so real the reader forgets they are fiction.

You know how sometimes when you try to remember something but can't, you say "its on the tip of my tongue!" or "It's right there, I just can't get it!!" and its so incredibly frustrating?

That is exactly how I feel after I see/read a poignant love story like TWILIGHT, THE LAKE HOUSE, THE NOTEBOOK, etc. I feel that I have such a story lurking beneath the surface, waiting and wanting to be written, but I just can't find it yet.

I can only hope it breaks free one day.

4 comments:

Georgiana said...

HAHA, you're such a fan!!! That's okay, you have pointed out all the reasons why. Now I *might* have to read the book, but like you did at first, I'm resisting.

Great thoughts on conflict and stakes.

Jenny B. Jones said...

Hey, Betsy!
I loved Twilight (the book), but after that the series went downhill for me. I strongly disliked the movie and was so glad today to see they won't be keeping their same director. But I liked Edward a lot! : )

But I love the romantic tension in book one. It's such a great study for those of us who want that hotness--without the graphic sex in our books.

I'm so glad you read Twilight! A new convert! ; )

Keisha said...

Betsy-

I'm glad you liked Twilight--the movie and the book. I have fallen in love with the series and can't wait to see how they bring New Moon to life.

I know what you mean when you say there's just something that you can't quite put your finger on with this series. If you thought there was conflict in Twilight, wait until you get into New Moon. Oh my goodness, I was so torn. I still am.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

My middle daughter has Twilight, but she doesn't seem to be getting into it. I must borrow it from her and see if it connects with me as it does you. Although, I tend not to go nuts over vampire type characters.

But the conflicts do sound amazing!