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Ella: This Is Going To Start A Fight

Word Count: 43,639

The flu hit our house this week. It took out Six last Friday and me on Tuesday, so there has been very little writing but a lot of TV watching happening this week. The two days I spent in bed I napped through the latest episode of Agents of Shield but did manage to stay awake to watch the Twilight movies.

And this is where the fight is going to start, because every time RB and I talk about the Twilight movies we argue. I’m a big fan of the Twilight books (and yes, I know they’re flawed) but I’m not a big fan of the movies. I think they sacrifice character development for action and pretty scenery and product placement. I think they try to make Bella more modern—more assertive, more feminist—and they lose the vulnerability that makes her sympathetic.

The movie that I think is the most broken is Breaking Dawn Part 2. That movie just makes me crazy. (And here’s where you should stop reading if you haven’t seen the movie and you don’t want to be SPOILER-ed, but honestly people, it’s been out for a year.) At the end of Breaking Dawn, the book, the Cullens and the Volturi face off, and the confrontation gets tense but there’s no fight because the Volturi realize that they’re outmatched and retreat. In the movie, there’s a battle, of course. Kind of. They play the entire protracted battle (and holy moses, it’s looong), and then they tell us it didn’t really happen, that it was a vision that Alice shared with the Volturi, and the Volturi retreat because they see that they can’t win the battle.

So, I’ll skip over the whole cheesy Bobby-in-the-shower thing they borrowed from Dallas circa 1985 because it’s so sad that it’s not worth talking about, to talk about the big problem: they switched protagonists at the end of the movie. Alice saved the day, so it’s Alice’s movie. And I love Alice, but if the last movie is Alice’s movie, then they probably should have made the first four movies Alice’s movies. (I totally would have gone to see those movies.)

I think the thing I love most about the Twilight books is Bella’s character arc. There’s this beautiful movement from powerless—vulnerable, fragile, isolated—to powerful. At the end she’s surrounded by family, she’s the strongest person in the room, and it’s her power that causes the Volturi to retreat. She saves the day. She moves from being the one who is rescued to the rescuer. She’s the hero of her own story.

But, you know, they needed a battle scene for the movie so they downplayed Bella’s power and made Alice the hero instead. What were they thinking? What were they thinking about? I understand that a big battle scene makes a sexier trailer than a standoff that ends with one party retreating, but come on. That was just bad story telling. You can’t take your protagonist’s power away and let a secondary character save the day unless that’s the story you’re telling from the beginning. I don’t know what story they were planning to tell with the movies—and I don’t think they knew, either—but it wasn’t a story about how Bella becomes a vampire and then Alice saves her from the Volturi. That story is crap.

So here’s the lesson I take for my own writing: Don’t sacrifice character development for sexy. Just don’t. Tell the story you intended to tell, even if it doesn’t have a fabulous battle scene for the movie trailer, and let your character’s transformation be the climax of the story. That story is worth watching.

6 comments on “Ella: This Is Going To Start A Fight

  1. Aussa Lorens
    November 18, 2013

    It’s funny, I was just in a coworkers office discussing the whole Twilight storyline… because that’s what you do on a Monday morning. I haven’t seen any of the movies after the first (couldn’t handle it) but your comments are pretty damn insightful for the topic at hand… That’s surprising that they switched it to be Alice’s big moment… I wouldn’t have expected that. She’s pretty kick ass but like you said they should have made the story about her if they planned on ending it that way.

    • 2unpublishedgirls
      November 18, 2013

      Ella: Thank you. :) Twilight occupies a lot of my brain space–probably too much! I’m always trying to pick apart what it is that gives those books such a potent magic, particularly when they’re so imperfect. I think the movies are part of the mystery, because Stephenie Meyer was so involved in making them, so I think they have something to say about her approach to and understanding of story. I wish she talked more about craft and how creates her stories. I’m love to hear that.

  2. Ranting Crow
    November 14, 2013

    I think, that most books are better than the movies Twilight is one of those exceptions. A book that is flawed and a film that cannot keep the story straight. You start to wonder who is right. There is a trouble however with filming a series of books. that they find it difficult to stay with the book and with a book flawed they try to make it right in a film. Wrong to make a secondary character a hero
    I do not like either. they both have flaws They good for a one time read and watch. and than just forget. but learn a lesson from it.
    Hope you can pick up the writing again soon. Never ever thought about your characters????
    Keep smiling

    • 2unpublishedgirls
      November 14, 2013

      Ella: Mostly this week I thought about surviving the mayhem. I should be able to get back to writing tomorrow. This type of thing always sidetracks us this time of year–we get sick and everything goes to hell for a while. I think the thing is just to keep going back to the writing.

  3. J.R.Richardson
    November 14, 2013

    I honestly loved that twist they pulled to screw with us at the end of Breaking Dawn 2… but I will say this, your summary of it all – perfecto. I kind of agree wholeheartedly with you on the books VS the movies and character development. *sigh*

    • 2unpublishedgirls
      November 14, 2013

      Ella: It’s okay to love something that’s broken! My all-time favorite movie is just this horrible 80’s B movie called “Teen Witch” that’s broken so many ways I couldn’t keep track of them all. I was not a fan of the Twilight books until that last book when Bella came into her power, so for me that was the most important part and when they took that out it really made me mad.

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