Friday, August 06, 2010


So I made a huge mistake. I watched the second in the Twilight series, and I was so interested I can't even remember the name of it.

I do remember thinking several times how badly I wanted the movie to end, and yet I still watched it all the way through. What struck me as I watched the heroine pine for the six hundreth time in the movie was that it didn't seem to know what it was. It had vampires that are pretty and kind, and some that are bad, but not really bad. It had werewolves, but not too scary and it had a love story where the leads are never together.

I know these movies made a kajillion dollars and billions of teenage girls are obsessed, and I still don't get it.

And it clarified a problem I've had in my own writing. I've never been a hundred percent clear on what I'm doing. Am I a suspense writer, a historical writer, a romance writer? I've tried to meld the three, with varying levels of success, but at the same time, allowing one side to dilute the others. I go into a romance thinking, this is about the couple, and then allow the suspense side to detract from the romance. In another book I started it thinking that it would be about the suspense, but then in my attempts to also create a believable romance, diluted the suspense plot.

There is a way to cleverly meld genres, but to do it, you have to be very clear on the driving force behind the book, whether it be romance, or suspense and then commit to it.

What till I read a book that brilliantly combines all elements equally and I'm sure I'll reverse my opinion.


Molly O'Keefe said...

I watched it too, Sinead. I watched it too. But I agree with you a hundred percent. I think if you're going to mash up your genres you have to know your through line - or maybe your main character's through line - Sookie in truBlood - her whole reason for everything is romance and love. Her motives are easy.

You always say that straight up romance is the hardest thing to write and some ways Iagree - but I don't have to worry about these things.

Eileen said...

Well, I am always happy to do a little Twilight bashing. I didn't see the movie (or read the second book) although I did see the endless promos with that nice Taylor boy exploding out of his jorts and becoming a wolf over and over and over again.

I know what you mean about the commitment thing! It's one of the things I think was wrong with my chick lit novels. All my reviews were similar. "Hilarious and heartwarming." "Funny and poignant." I diluted the funny with the poignant and the poignant with the funny. Still makes me want to bash my head against a wall (or that could just be my mood of the day).

Maureen McGowan said...

This one is so hard, because I think often the very successful books do blend genres. And Eileen, some of my favorite chick lit books, yours amongst them, blended the funny with the poignant. (Your Do Me, Do My Roots, and Lolly Winston's Good Grief were both funny and poignant.)
I'm trying to think of one chick lit book I loved that was only funny w/o something deeper... Maybe the first Shopaholic book.

I'm still not sure why those Twilight books did so well. I've only read the first, but have seen the movies... I think part of it was getting that teen angst thing right (everything SO DRAMATIC) and part of it had to have been right book, right time, right promotion...

Oh, for some of that magic. :)

I think I blew the genre blending with my urban fantasy/paranormal, too... Then again, I've read other authors who struck a similar combo and did well, so clearly I know nothing.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Yeah!!!! Twilight bashing. I think it's my favorite thing these days.

What it did right was ANGST. What it did wrong ... everything else.

I read the second book because I was told "it gets better" and having seen how Rowling progressed as a writer (as all writers will do simply by writing) I thought I would give her the benefit of the doubt.

Yeah that didn't work out so much for me. I refuse to see the movies if for no other reason then I don't want to part with any $$ on behalf of these books.

Sinead - I also have the weird genre thing happening. Too mystery for romance, too romance for mystery....

My agent now says it's fiction.

You know what I think. I think I'm thinking about too much. I spent every day since the conf. thinking about what I'm going to do differently because now it's "fiction".

I woke up today and told myself. Just tell the flippin story. Just think of the story, don't worry about "what" it is... and write it.

Then you adopt the Eileen strategy of "whatever" and what will be will be.

So my 2 cents. Don't worry about what it is, what it isn't, where it fits... just think up a story you like and want to tell and then tell it.

Eileen said...

I dunno. I like the unexpected in my books. A little fun with the suspense or a little mystery with my fun, but I think we might be the exceptions.

I think people want funny all the way when they want funny or suspenseful all the way when they want suspenseful. There will always be exceptions that prove the rule, but they're still exceptions.

Eileen said...

Yes, Steph! Tell your flippin' story? But if you put sparkly vampires in it, I'm going to threaten to slap you again. :-)

Sinead M said...

most good books have a combination of elements, but they do their main through line really well and don't let the other elements detract. Me, I let the other elements detract until I watered down what I was trying to achieve.

But, like Steph, now I'm focusing on the story, and strictly the story.

And good call, I guess the Twilights books did angst, but does that ever get boring after the first half an hour.

Delphine Dryden said...

I didn't watch the second one, because I couldn't make it through the second book. Read/watched the first and felt cheated out of a good story. And I'm sure somewhat jealous. I think her "magic" was hitting the right thing at the right time. I don't begrudge her the success, but I don't think the books will have legs (as opposed to the Harry Potter books, which I suspect will hold up fairly well over time).

What struck me, since I have more familiarity than I should even admit in the realm of fan fiction, is that the Twilight books read like the sort of fan fic that sucks, but generates a lot of forum talk and fangurl squeeing by readers who just don't know any better. In fan fic terms, the heroine is the biggest Mary Sue EVER. Which makes it almost painful to read. And I don't get it either. But it seems to transcend genre.

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