Rewriting Twilight — Discussion and Contest!
What does it take to be a successful writer? And how does one define success, anyway?
- Number of books sold?
- Critical acclaim?
- Fan letters and emails from your readers?
- Movie deals?
- Making a significant change in how someone or many someones understand the world?
- Some indefinable other?
This question was inherent in the structure of our most recent writing discussion and exercise, where we took the first paragraph of Chapter 1 of Stephanie Meyer’s bestselling book Twilight, analyzed it, and then rewrote it with our own spin.
At the end of this entry, you will also be offered the opportunity to try the same writing exercise out for yourself, and the author of the rewrite voted most successful (by the criteria we’ll explain below) will WIN:
- Your exercise highlighted as a post on our blog with suitable accolades and promotion!
- A link to your website (or the website of your choice, such as http://cat-bounce.com which is good for hours of entertainment), provided it’s not your local chapter of the KKK or something equally reprehensible.
- The honor and glory of having WON!
So let’s get started:
A number of writers and readers (including myself) have criticized Twilight for its style, themes, coherency, and etc, but the fact of the matter is, no matter what the rest of us think, Stephanie Meyer is laughing all the way to the bank. So for this discussion, instead of reading through the question ″what’s wrong with this?″ we decided to read through the question of ″what’s working about this text?″
Note: For some reason, in this book, the “prologue” was called a “preface,” which I totally ignored because I never read prefaces, hence this first chapter is not intentionally the hook of the book. Oops!
First Paragraph of Twilight:
My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down. It was seventy five degrees in Phoenix, the sky a perfect, cloudless blue. I was wearing my favorite shirt–sleeveless, white eyelet lace; I was wearing it as a farewell gesture. My carry-on item was a parka.
So looking over the first paragraph sentence by sentence we noted:
- Sentence 1: We get a fair amount of information that implies movement on a significant scale:
- Our main character isn’t able or willing to drive him/herself to the airport and is being driven by a living parent, hence they are likely young.
- The temperature isn’t too cold as the windows are down. Also, this implies that possibly the car is old, or that the mother is frugal about using air conditioning (or just likes fresh air) as they don’t have the AC on.
- Going to the airport is a significant event in many people’s lives, so this shows promise.
- Sentence 2: We get information that supports our assumptions from the first sentence:
- It’s 75 degrees, sunny, and nice weather (that the main character is getting on an airplane and leaving though s/he clearly likes this weather.)
- We’re in Phoenix.
- Sentence 3:
- Now we have some evidence this character is female, as she’s wearing a sleeveless, lace shirt. It’s possible she’s a cross-dresser with a very open mother, but a female main character is more likely. She also has girly taste in clothes.
- This is a farewell gesture, which means that she is leaving someplace significant (including her mother, who is driving her TO the airport, not WITH HER to the airport) to go somewhere else.
- Sentence 4
- Wherever she’s going, it’s not going to be 75 degrees and sunny. Also, her flight doesn’t seem like it’s that long as she only has one carry on item and it’s not a book or some sort of music device even.
- I’m also assuming (this is Naima) that this takes place pre 9/11 because she doesn’t seem like she’ll be sitting in the airport too long, either, or else she might have brought something with which to entertain herself. And I’m assuming this is an in-country flight.
What we found difficult to grasp was the actual mood of this paragraph, though the phrase ″farewell gesture″ does imply some sort of grand emotion, so what we decided to do was twofold:
- See how much information we could convey in a rewrite of this opening.
- Do it while expressing a randomly generated mood (thanks, Barb, for this idea).
The four moods we had for this were:
Nervous, Vengeful, Depressed, and Sexy.
Feel free to read the below paragraphs and see if you can tell which is which and leave it in our comments section.
My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down. Neither of us said a word. I put my hand out the car and felt the dry air rush by too fast. It was seventy-five degrees in Phoenix, the desert sky cloudless. I was wearing my favorite shirt — sleeveless, white eyelet lace — as a farewell gesture. It was probably the last time I’d ever be able to wear it, the last time I’d see a perfect blue sky. My carry-on item was a parka.
My lover drove me to the hotel with the windows rolled down. It was hot in Phoenix—so hot—the sky a seductive, sensuous blue. I was wearing my favorite chemise—sleeveless, white see-through lace; I was wearing it as a farewell gesture for my lover. My bag contained scented candles and a Barry White CD.
My mother closed my car door even though I clutched at her sweater and before walking around to the driver’s side. I didn’t even have time to protest before we were off on the highway leading to the airport. My stomach curdled, and I tried to roll myself into a ball in the seat. But Mom had rolled the windows down, even though she knew anything could have come through them, maybe bird poop or a pebble at high speed. If those things could crack windshields, what would they to do us? The sky was clear and blue—not even a nice, thick cloud cover to protect us. In defense, I’d put on my favorite shirt, black with the Nine Inch Nails logo, but even that probably wasn’t enough to keep me safe.
Naima (who just really didn’t feel like writing in first person):
Bella’s mama drove her baby girl to the airport with the windows rolled down. It was sunny and seventy-five degrees,the sky above a cold, clear blue, the eyes of a distant God who saw all, recorded it his ledger and punished the guilty far too late. Bella had two pills in the right pocket of her jeans, one for her daddy and one for herself. She was unsure about the last pill, suicide being a sin and all. She was wearing her favorite shirt, a gift from her Aunt Tracy, sleeveless, white eyelet lace; she was wearing it as a farewell gesture. Her only carry on item was a parka.
Now you try!
- Go ahead and pick a random emotion from this generator: http://bit.ly/16K2AAQ
- Rewrite the first paragraph of Twilight in your own style, working to convey the emotion/mood you were given.
- Email the emotion for your submission along with your name to naimajohnson92 AT gmail DOT com.
- Make your contest submission a comment on this entry.
- Look at the other submissions and try and guess what mood the piece is trying to convey. Write your guess as a response to their comment.
- Whoever gets the most votes that are the closest, wins!
- BONUS: Whoever guesses the most correctly will also have their submission featured on the site as well!
- BONUS #2: The first person to email naimajohnson92 AT gmail DOT com with the correct mood for each of the above paragraphs will also win, thus giving us a total of potentially THREE WINNERS!
Deadline for submissions is Sunday, October 13th at 11:59om EST.
Deadline for guesses is Wednesday, October 16th.
Winner will be revealed shortly thereafter!
Now, let’s start writing!