Look, I get it. This usually goes down one of two ways.
Authors were inspired, they wrote a new thing and they are so sure that other people will love it like they do that they revert to the source of the inspiration as a short-hand, relatable, pop-culture unit of measurement.
This is the most tolerant version and only induces a mild nausea and polite pity.
Marketers, eagers for a quick cash grab with little to no understanding of what fans loved about the source material whip out this pop-culture reference like the snake-oil salesmen they are and proceed to douse all-new stories with it like its the ketchup that will make us able to swallow any pile of crap they put in front of us.
This is the most despicable version and immediately apparent to any serious fan still in touch with their soul. See also: projectile vomiting and angry mobs with torches
STOP trying to sell us more of the same shell!
Here’s what I mean
Get in touch with the elements that made Twilight great, not the window dressings. These are the universally connecting truths that made all the external stuff seem important. I’ll give you some examples.
- Nothing is more dramatic and compelling than the first time we fall in love -it doesn’t matter who’s doing the falling
- We all want to relive that sense of magic and danger that comes with loving someone unexpected – they don’t have to be vampires or any other kind of mystical creature that can be invented
- All plots are the wild “what if’s” of indulgent fiction of what if we made different choices – those choices don’t even have to make us better people, just explore what we fear about ourselves
And poof – there are the core themes of Twilight
We don’t want another Twilight, it was enough. We have the books, the movies, and our personal, timeless fantasies to indulge in. Unless you are writing fan fiction, owning that its fan fiction, and selling it as fan fiction, drop the pop-culture ruler already! Nobody else is Stephanie Meyer, stop trying to be her. It’s like meeting a new person and having them introduce themselves as a shallow copy of their idol. That’s it, no personal qualities to appreciate, just the most stripped down, diet-version of an icon they admire. Yuck.
Give us our Twilight feelings in your own words, worlds, and ways
Dare to be original in your story and familiar in your moments. Don’t give me another young couple having their first kiss in a meadow. Make me feel the danger and excitement of kissing someone that feels out of my league. Don’t make a character special because of their magical origins. Let me empathize with someone whose problems and struggles match my own even if they go by another name. Don’t tell me about the advantages (magical or otherwise) that the hero must overcome to win. Help me feel like I will have to change how I see myself and the world or the hero will leave me behind too.
Twilight was not enough
I get it, Twilight was an unexpected phenomenon that’s going to be with us forever. It has left us all rabid for more. But more of the same externally will never have the same results.
Until writers show us in:
- their plots
- their characters
- their world-building
- their stories reason for existing
that they understand the original, vulnerable soul, that is behind Twilight, there will not be another story that has the same effect on us. So please, stop trying to sell us Twilight. DO stay a fan of your source material. But use it to find your voice, your original context, and a story so compelling that the only way to write it will expose your soul to us. And then, sell us that!