Explorations (**BD2 Movie Spoilers!**)

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Openhome
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Re: Explorations

Post by Openhome » Sun Oct 17, 2010 9:49 pm

Okay, okay. Fine. :lol:
I thought they did a good job of speaking to your post, though.

Rollie, a good point about any book, which I think also speaks to one of Knives' pet peeves. The story is meant for older youths or young adults, and it isn't meant for children. That is one of the things that bothers Knives, because the book is a mixture of teen literature, and adult themes. What we who love the books perceive as charming, can come across as trite. Her writing style has quite a few errors in it. To an anti, this is evidence of a poorly written book.

However, I must agree with Jazz Girl, that the story is so well characterized, so intrinsically like each of us, that it has touched most people's lives. It touched mine for the better, and I will forever be grateful for the Saga. Like Ouisa, I am over the first love that I had for the books. I am also saddened by some of the books that have met with acclaim recently, but fantasy isn't the only genre of teen literature, and there are several other wonderful stories out there that have caught my eye.

Knives, I know that your frustration with this book (and many others) is based primarily in your inability to find a place for your own work. I would like to point out that many, if not all, authors have a hard time selling their books. Each one received hundreds, if not thousands of rejection letters (even Stephen King). This isn't the fan base's fault, or Stephenie Meyer's for that matter. You are angry at an industry that works on trends and fads. It always has. I am sorry you have been caught in the middle, but perhaps you should take your anger out on the right culprit. If it hadn't been Twilight, it would have been True Blood.

You mentioned that the book has sunk it's claws deep into the fanbase's heart. Yes it has. For JG, Ouisa and I, we let it make us better people and then stayed around enjoy the fandom, but we have lives and family, cats and friends. This isn't our life. If we went so far as to make it our life (a form of psychosis) then it still wouldn't be Stephenie Meyer's fault. She wrote a book. What a person chooses to do with the book is THE PERSON'S FAULT!!! No one MAKES you do anything.

I have no problem with you being annoyed by uber fans -- they can drive us mods crazy, too! However, the fan is NOT the responsibility of SM. She has said over and over that she just wrote a book. It was a story that played out in her head and she wrote down of paper. She has done nothing to spread the frenzy, and has even asked fans to calm down at times.

Your story seemed to be an adult fiction. As such, why do you compare it to Twilight? They are for two different audiences.

On the subject of honing your skills...
I understand your frustration. Really, I do. As an artist and amateur writer, I see works that are praised and followed that are not well written or well rendered. It astounds me at times. However, it doesn't change what I do. I still paint, draw and write. I still do what I can for my own work. It is all I can do.

So, *looks straight at Knives and raises an eyebrow* I was wondering if instead of taking out your wrath on Twilight, you would instead like to join me in what will be the challenge of my lifetime. Come write with me on NaNoWriMo. Come write 50,000 words of sheer drivel in thirty days, just for the fun of it. Ignore what is written by others and what is acclaimed as art. Come have fun with 55,000 others who are just as frustrated as you are, but who are keeping their focus on their own work.

Dare Ya! :twisted:

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Re: Explorations

Post by Knives » Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:02 am

I'll post something more in-depth later. However, I would love to participate in NaNoWriMo - if I wasn't shackled down by two jobs and a newborn son (ten weeks! YEAH!). I've got no time and no energy to come up with something entirely new, drivel or otherwise, in such a short span of time.
Openhome wrote:Knives, I believe that..
wait for it...
you are right.

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Re: Explorations

Post by Openhome » Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:21 pm

You have a new son!! CONGRATULATIONS!! I'm so very happy for you.
I'm sorry about the sleep, but it gets better in about 17 years. ;)

I will keep you posted on the Nano thing.

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Re: Explorations

Post by December » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:54 am

Knives wrote:and a newborn son (ten weeks! YEAH!).

Squeeeee! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

*raps own knuckles with mod's ferrule and gets back on topic*

I'm sorry I've been awol from this discussion -- really, really, busy, and unable to give these issues the time they deserve. And I'm not sure I could improve on what JG, Ouisa and Openhome have said so eloquently. I might just add that it's an engrained habit of mine, amounting almost to a personal creed, to try and ignore what other people think about any book I read. To pretend to myself, almost, that I'm the only person in the world who has ever read it. The magic of reading rests (for me anyway) on the illusion of being absolutely alone with a story, of it being private and personal and wholly one's own: events and the characters unfolding in a closed realm, inaccessible to anyone else. In one sense, this is of course true -- far more than with, say film -- because so much of "the story" one person reads in, say, Twilight, is built up of their own imaginings, projections etc. and differs radically from "the story" someone else might find between its covers. (As has been amply demonstrated in discussions here over the years!). There are probably as many Edwards and Bellas as there are readers of Twilight. On the other hand, it's obviously also ludicrous to suppose that any book -- even one whose circulation is in the thousands, not millions -- is actually private. And when it's successful enough to generate a visible fandom, well, the challenge of somehow maintaining that precious sense of ownership becomes a very tricky balancing act. You might say that being able somehow to turn a blind eye to the fandom is a prerequisite for being able to participate in it. At least, I think that's what I've always felt. Does that make taking part in a fansite like the Lex a paradoxical undertaking? Definitely. I'm still not entirely sure how it is that conversations here with other readers in fact enriched my own private pleasure in the story, instead of spoiling it. Selective inattention, I expect, unremittingly applied. Which I think may be what Openhome and Ouisa have been recommending to you too. The rewards of both reading and writing -- the deep rewards, I mean -- are private ones: stay true to those, revel in the visions which have been granted to you, and pay no attention to the hordes outside the door. They can't get inside your head unless you let them! As for commercial success, seems to me that the world of publishing is pretty much as you'd expect. In every profession, the triumph of the second-rate over the first-rate is habitual (though not universal) -- and has been that way since the days of Rome and Sumer. Frustrating, but well-documented in over two thousand years of satirical writing. (Poss inspiration for that NaNoWriMo project Openhome's bugging you about?... *grin*).

Gah, running late! I'll try and come back to this when I can.
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Re: Explorations

Post by GrayceM » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:16 am

December wrote: To you (for example) it’s axiomatic that contempt demands expression, and that bad books need criticizing. You’re prepared (grudgingly) to forgo the pleasures of really swingeing denunciation because I’m not going to let you write things here that are hurtful to the author or her fans; but you do genuinely think it’s vital that legitimate criticisms be aired. The idea of quietly disliking the damn books and going your own way bothers you. Even though we’re only talking about a pop teen romance (which will almost certainly peak in popularity soon and sink back into ordinary company of other popular novels).

Whereas to Jazzgirl (for instance) and many other fans, this driving need to take a stand against a slice of popular culture you personally dislike is mystifying. As JG says: “if you don’t like it, why not just move on?”. If one’s own impulse is to simply shrug one’s shoulders at other people’s foolish fancies, the anti’s need to voice their contempt looks a bit like sheer meanness. (“I don’t go trashing your favourite authors; why do you want to trash mine?”). In general, I think, Twilight fans are less troubled than antis by culture wars, the need to define literary canon, the establishment and defence of objective aesthetic standards etc. So it’s hard for fans to see why the antis are getting so het up about Stephenie’s writing except out of some kind of tribal antagonism (our people hate your people...).
Well said! I think this is why I had such a difficult time understanding the purpose of some of the posts on this thread.
In my own experience, it takes so much more energy to ridicule and stay bitter and angry about something than it does to shrug your shoulder and walk away. I have determined for my own well being that I don't want to spend that kind of energy on situations that I can not control or alter. Maybe that's due to how I was raised, but talking down to someone else because your opinons do not agree, does not mean that your opinion is better, only that you think it is. Just because you have an opinion does not mean that you always have to share it. Being so consumed with making sure everyone agrees that you are right take the focus away from what you may have wrong.
Disliking something means, for me, avoiding that which I dislike instead of submersing myself in the culture and trying to persuade everyone else why mine is the right view. I think of it as standing on shore watching a feeding frenzy and shouting for it to stop. Then because your shouting is ignored, you swim through to the center only to realize that now you are in the center trying to stop it and have to keep yourself from drowning also. Just seems to be a lot of trouble to go through just to get your point across... :? Things usually happen the way they are supposed to. It's only when we decide to get involved and control the situation does the meaning get lost.
Knives wrote:Now, as for the Anti vs. Fan thing, there's a reason folks like me always air criticism - because that's how people improve. Cheerleading only helps in sports; everywhere else, someone needs to tell you what you're doing wrong so that you can improve it. In many cases, it's blindingly obvious that no one bothered to do this, and thus do you get a core of antis (usually starting with nascent writers like myself) that air the criticism in lieu of whoever it is that got paid to NOT DO THEIR JOB. I mean, put yourself in my shoes for a moment. I've been spending five years honing my prose and getting rejection letter after rejection letter in an attempt to be published and then that crap (Twilight/Inheritance/Mortal Instruments/Whatever) makes it past the radar? In the genre I write in? To popular freaking acclaim? Good GOD there's nothing more infuriating. It's like watching all your hard work get spat upon and then thrown into a cesspool. What have I spent all that time learning to write for?
I am not certain I understand this version of the "Anti". In what society does someone against, a work of fiction in this case, criticize the author for the purpose of helping the author to improve their writing skills? I've often found that praise and constructive criticism works as well and sometimes better than bashing...Is it really necessary to criticise someone personally for a work of fiction they have published?
December wrote: Gah! Getting sidetracked here, and I haven’t even got to your original, very intriguing distinction between, if one could so describe it, books that appeal to the mind and books that reach straight for the emotions. You've definitely articulated something I wholly agree with (and that's been discussed here in passing before): Stephenie's preternatural knack for manipulating the reader's emotions so that they become immersed in Bella's immediate experience. But this is something I really want more time to think about: best save it for another post![/color]
People are going to do what they can to explore possibilities and theories if they find those paths meaningful for them. They are going to pull from personal experience when they read for enjoyment and even for the purpose of education. The meaning in a book may be different for me now than it was 10 or 15 years ago. I can't stand to read even something I wrote myself that long ago because I have grown as a person and my views are very different than they were. If a headline in the newspaper catches my eye or I see a book title and it sparks my interest, ultimately it's from the same place. It's from the place that motivates me to be who I am; an individual made up of both emotion and reason, or if you will, chaos and logic. Emotion is defined as a "complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical (internal) and environmental (external) influences." I believe that the distinction between the mind and emotion is unnecessary. I do not read subject matter that doesn't elicit an emotional response in one form or other, because for me, reading for any other purpose wouldn't be logical.

I would venture to say that Stephenie's fans are drawn to this story because it does draw out such extraordinary emotions and because it can be discussed rationally and logically? Though I have found some would be fatal flaws in Stephenie's writing and the editing process, I have found that it's much easier for me to enjoy where the story takes me rather than trying to steer it where I decide it should go. Maybe that means there is no hope for someone like me to ever be a literary critic...(probably means that yes); but since that is not something I aspire to be in the first place, is there a reason to question overlooking the parts of the story that exasperate my rationale?
Knives wrote: We've actually discussed this idea before in numerous other threads under the guise of numerous other concepts; Bella-as-Everygirl, Edward-as-Soulmate, et cetera, and this is one of the big reasons that Twilight comes under fire from academics a lot. People trained in literary critique tend to read the story straight and examine the concept of archetypes later, which is why you get a lot of antis from writing or college backgrounds giving the series flak for its characterizations and portrayal of relationships. Taken at literal face value, just about every relationship in the book (including Charlie's with Bella as a father) is dysfunctional, irresponsible, abusive, or any combination of the above. Taken more archetypically, these considerations fade out or move to the background. It's largely a matter of how much one project's oneself onto the novels.
I've found that people will give the series "flak" for every reason. I challenge that to measure how "dysfunctional, irresponsible, abusive..." the relationships portrayed are understood by any given person is not largely a matter of abundance of their projections, but of the critics understanding of the archetypical relationship. What you believe to be normal, I may consider to be vastly exaggerated ideals. There are many different types of relationships and families these days. Traditional roles are not what they used to be. I suppose what everyone thinks of the way Edward attempts to control the situation and keep Bella safe, to be the "abusive" part of the relationship. If I were taking the cynical and rational stand on the story as a guide for how teenagers should act, I would have to agree. Since it's a fictional 100 year old teenage vampire, with extra abilities and powers, trying to keep the love of his life from being killed (several times over) I would have to say that he's remarkably restrained, and relatively unobtrusive in her life. Until she decides that it not what she wants anymore. This is not a 14 year old girl who's swooning over her first crush. This is a 17 going on 30 woman who has been self sufficient and knows herself better than a lot of adults.
Take out of the story that Jacob is a shapeshifter, Edward is a vampire, and all the rest of the supernatural elements and yes, you are left with an emotionally abusive relationship, a dysfunctional family and friends who are controlling and manipulative to the point that it's criminal. Sadly, that's too much like real life for me to have ever picked it up in the first place. I have yet to hear of criminal activity that is caused by someone reading the Twilight Saga.

The saga itself has brought me closer to my husband, and my stepsons, who love the werewolves, and shown me that all modern romance novels do not have to be trash. I have discovered a new depth for my capacity to love unconditionally. I'm glad I read the saga and that it touched my life.

Congratulations on the birth of your son! What an amazing journey you have begun. :D
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Re: Explorations

Post by StellaBlueBella » Fri Nov 19, 2010 9:19 pm

I am brand new to the Lex and very glad to have found this topic! This is exactly the type of discussions I was hoping to find here. It seems like it has been awhile since anyone has been here so all my thoughts may just end up being lost in cyber space but Oh Well! So many fascinating perspectives... so many posts to comment on... Where to begin?

First, let me say I think my background may be very different than many of the posters here therefore I ask your forgiveness in advance for my rough commentary as I do not possess the literary prowess so many here seem to have.

I guess that leads right into one of the topics of conversation that I want to comment on the most, the flaws in SM’s work and the simplicity of her writing style. Writing is an art and a form of self-expression. It is also a craft which can be honed with practice. To be able to relay your message/story to your audience in a way that touches them (be it positively or negatively) like she can truly is a gift. I believe part of what make SM’s work so touching are the flaws. They help to provide a very genuine feel. I believe I am reading her first book when I read Twilight which adds to the credibility of her message – I can tell this is from the heart. Think about other art forms, think of Van Gogh. His work would not be memorable at all if the lines where perfect and the faces symetrical. Plus, I can see an evolution in her writing from the beginning of the saga to the end. I think she has made comments to that affect. That’s part of the reason why there are no outtakes for Eclipse and BD.

Also, I think the flaws may add an appeal to her YA audience. I remember for me English and grammar, etc. felt just like a bunch of rules at that age – like we were all supposed to exist inside this uptight cookie cutter. I clearly remember the thrill of reading Stephen King for the first time. Profanity and in his case intentional misuse of the English language was a shock. I think part of SM’s charm is that she is not perfect. And for the record I am not trying to compare her to Stephen King.

It seems a bit critial to me, they way people say the readers are projecting their own feelings on to the characters of these books... Referring to Bella as a place holder. Calling them undefined characters. Maybe its not meant to be critical but I do feel the need to respond. I personally appreciate the liberty to apply some of my own imagination to the experience of reading a book. If the author spells out every tiny detail of a character I get bored and feel confined. Allow me some room please to make it my own. That is one of the best benefits of reading a book over watching TV! In my opinion SM did a nice job of balancing the need to define her character's traits that were relevant to the story while allowing room for the personal interpration of her readers.

As far as the adult themes in her book… She did not write Twilight intending for it to be a YA book. Obviously she knew the genre for the three books that followed. It seems to me that she has taken great care to keep her audience in mind without speaking (or writing) down to them. Clearly there are many readers who appreciate that.

Sheesh I just realized how long winded I am being! I think I could talk about this stuff forever so I just go ahead and wrap it up here, lol. Thanks everyone for such interesting reading :D
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Re: Explorations

Post by December » Sat Nov 20, 2010 7:23 am

Welcome to the conversation! So glad you've been enjoying this thread. Writing in haste here, so I'll have to be brief. Let me just say that I couldn't agree with you more that the scope that reading gives us for joining our own imagining to the author's -- the way books indeed require us to draw on our own imaginations -- is what gives them a magic that film and drama, marvellous as they are in other ways, can't match. Actually, it's probably the wrong way of putting it to say that books require us to make our own contribution, as if it were some kind of effort or assignment: we do it helplessly, automatically, unconsciously, without the slightest feeling of strain. The magic just...happens.

As for Bella being a placeholder, Stephenie has pretty much said as much herself; but whether you think this is a criticism depends entirely on what you think Stephenie is trying to do with her: whether you're interested in her as a realist character, or whether you read Twilight as something more stylized and/or mythic. If you're looking for a strictly realist novel, peopled with characters of an intense and idiosyncratic particularity, Twilight is definitely going to fall short. But plenty of us aren't...
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Re: Explorations

Post by StellaBlueBella » Sat Nov 20, 2010 5:11 pm

December wrote:As for Bella being a placeholder, Stephenie has pretty much said as much herself; but whether you think this is a criticism depends entirely on what you think Stephenie is trying to do with her: whether you're interested in her as a realist character, or whether you read Twilight as something more stylized and/or mythic. If you're looking for a strictly realist novel, peopled with characters of an intense and idiosyncratic particularity, Twilight is definitely going to fall short. But plenty of us aren't...
Ok to me a placeholder is like the number zero which is why I feel like there is a negative connotation when the term is applied to a person/character. (I'll take all the 0's you'll give me in a paycheck!) I just don't find Bella to be a zero. Curious, do you think we learn less about Bella's inner workings than those of characters in undisputed classics, say either of the Katherines in Wuthering Heights? Granted neither where the narrator but I am trying to find a good comparison. Is there like an interview on youtube or something on the Lex where SM speaks to Bella being like a placeholder? I am just trying to understand why someone would write four books where the main character is really a no one... I always felt like SM truly knew who her characters where and really that she loved then.

I can see how there is this tug between mystic tale vs realist novel as the story here takes place in two worlds at once. I'll have to think on this one a bit longer because it it definitely more then a fairy tale... Really you've just reminded me that the first time I read Twilight I kept thinking of CS Lewis' the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe because of all the hopping between a different set of realities... I don't remember that much hopping between in the other books in the Narnia Chronicles...?

OH I almost forgot!! BD totally made me think of TheodoreSturgeon's More Than Human... Its old and more obscure by now. Has anyone read it? Would love to hear thoughts on that!
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Re: Explorations

Post by ringswraith » Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:30 am

Well to be fair, Bella isn't a zero. We have some known traits that help define her as a person.

She's stubborn. She is used to being the caretaker. She's into books. She's intelligent. She's extremely clumsy. She blushes easily.

Thing is, this isn't a whole character. There's enough to give us a skeleton (if you will) of a character- it's left to us to flesh her out in our imaginings. Which is why a lot of people find they can relate or even put themselves in Bella's shoes.

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Re: Explorations

Post by GrayceM » Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:57 am

Whether it was an interview on Lex or elsewhere, I remember SM stating that she never specifically described Bella's physical appearance other then the basics (brown hair, heart shaped faced, maybe a couple of other traits) so that the reader could identify or project. there are a vast majority of girls and women who remember being that awkward teenager that is overlooked most of the time for being plain. Until you get to know them, you never know there are qualities that set them apart from the others. I believe that is all that's meant of the term "placeholder".

Welcome to the discussion!

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