Thursday, June 24, 2010

Writing Romance in the Shadow of Stephenie and Smith

As you all know, I am a Twilight enthusiast. I have a ticket to see Eclipse as soon as it opens (even if it took some convincing for me to go to a midnight showing with 8 a.m. work the next morning), I write on the Twilight juried archive at and I've read all of the books several times. I even have a t-shirt that I made myself for "Tanya's Denali Bed and Breakfast: We do Bachelor(ette) parties."

My sister-in-law talked to me last year about not wanting to continue reading Twilight until she finished her book because she didn't want to be influenced. In thinking about some things recently, I can understand that.

Between Twilight and Vampire Diaries, I feel as if the YA genre is inundated with slightly ridiculous gem metaphors. Edward has topaz eyes. Elena has lapis lazuli eyes. It gets worse when you think about Bella swooning over her personal Greek god and how she's always kissing his marble lips. Her favorite books are from a time of very flowery language and it shows.

On the other hand, my book is narrated by a person who thinks in very straight-forward terms. She knows all of the Twilit adjectives, but that's probably because she had them on a vocabulary list for homework, not because she looks at Alex and thinks that he has emerald orbs or something.

The subject of this blog post came up because, two nights ago, I got around to writing a specific romantic scene. Since I've been writing in a non-linear fashion, one of my first completed scenes included a quick kiss between boyfriend and girlfriend. Alex gives Ella mistletoe for her locker as a joke. Obviously, they occasionally get to engage in some PDA. But I have been working sort of backwards on their relationship because I know the end result and I need to know where the starting point is.

So, two nights ago, I wrote the first kiss and compared to the marble-snogging bliss from the meadow scene in Twilight, it was pathetically tame. But it was realistic. I rarely channel myself into Ella because she's not much like me, but this time I made an exception. I remember being a sixteen-year-old and experiencing my first kiss. I didn't think like Bella Swan. I felt giddy and light-headed and wanted to do it again and again. When I fell in love, I found a man who made me feel the same way.

So, did Ella hear a symphony while kissing petal-soft lips and gazing afterwards into emerald (more like peridot) orbs and gripping his curly, onyx-colored hair? HECK NO! She thought like a normal teenager who is too busy worrying about SAT prep to think about how she unconditionally loves her personal Greek god.

Maybe it would help if I 'shipped her with someone, but personally, I don't know if she's even met the person she'll eventually live happily-ever-after with. She's in a high school relationship that's not very healthy, she's best friends with Michael but doesn't feel that way about him... For all I know, she'll get married to Harker (character from Book 2 that I'll talk about someday).

The point of the story is not the romance of it. It's a contemporary urban fantasy thriller and I want people to relate to the romance rather than idealizing it. I probably will never have something like Twilight Moms, but I hope that there will be adults who still want to read this kind of affection.


  1. I'd definitely read your books! The world needs more tomes of reality!

  2. Thus saith the friend from the Twilight site. :) Thanks for the support!