Yes, this is a blog post about sparkly vampires, but it might not be what you’re expecting.
A disclaimer first: I haven’t read Stephenie Meyer‘s Twlight series. I did see the first movie.
Meyer has come under a lot of fire for her portrayal of vampires (I’m sure she’s crying all the way to the bank, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about). Her vampires fall outside the “norm” of traditional vampires in many ways, including the way their skin sparkles. People who aren’t fans of the books really seem to hate that and poke fun at the idea quite relentlessly.
I’m neither a fan nor an anti-fan, and I think Meyer is simply following a piece of writing advice that gets handed out to writers (especially genre writers) all the time, and it’s this: take an old idea, and put a new spin on it.
We’ve all seen or heard about those lists–there are only seven plots, there are only twelve plots, etc. We’re told there are no new ideas, there are no new conflicts, there are no original stories. There are only new takes on old stories. It’s up to us to take an idea and set it in a new light, twist it, change it, give the reader something different.
Isn’t that exactly what Meyer has done?
Okay, granted, maybe the sparkly thing was not the best execution of this advice. Maybe it flew too directly in the face of accepted vampire lore and the things that dyed-in-the-wool vampire fans were going to be looking for in her stories. Maybe it set the author up for too much easy criticism from those who didn’t like the books. In a way, it’s so different, so “out there,” that it makes for an easy target for such criticism.
On the other hand, there are now a lot of readers out there reading vampire fiction–all sorts of vampire fiction–that they would never have picked up if Meyer’s books hadn’t introduced them to the dark seduction of the vampire mythos. If nothing else, it certainly hasn’t hurt the books’ appeal or sales.
I think genre writers would be wise to look at this an example of a writer taking a piece of standard writing advice and using it to very good effect.