I was reading an article earlier about 8 Reasons Intelligent Writers Must Read Twilight. The author makes a lot of good points. No matter how much we might like to bash Twlight (and we all know I am NOT a fan), it’s been ragingly successful, and savvy authors would do well to try and figure out WHY.
One of the things he suggests is that “Bella’s thin personality may allow her to serve as an optimal ‘projection screen.'” Basically that she’s so totally normal, concerned with normal, everyday things (to start anyway), that she’s wholly relatable and there’s not a lot of substance there to inhibit the reader from putting themselves in her shoes.
I don’t buy this.
As a reader, I’m generally not putting myself in the shoes of the heroine. I think that simplifies the reading experience. While there is a vicarious thrill at going on adventures with characters, I’m not psychologically experiencing them AS the character. I am reading for CHARACTER. Meaning I’m interested in actual personality.
Frankly, normal people are boring.
Bella is boring. SO FREAKING BORING. I’ve read it. I can say that.
And no matter what layers are added to her over the course of the series, I fail to understand the appeal from the beginning that was enough to keep readers actually INTERESTED in what happens to her.
I am not normal. I am weird. I’m quirky. I’ve got interests and things at which I excel and things at which I totally suck. I’m a bundle of contradictions. And while I’m not the most exciting person ever, I think I can generally be interesting enough to hold a conversation with. Bella is about as interesting as watching paint dry.
This kind of…projection screen character that the author of this article suggests is not the kind of character I could ever write. Because I wouldn’t be interested enough to stick with him or her past the opening pages (and frankly not interested enough to WRITE the opening pages). Because I think normal is boring. SO incredibly boring. The people I like to talk to and hang out with aren’t normal either.
And maybe that will exclude me from ever achieving Meyer-like success (not that I think I had a chance in hell at that to begin with). But I’m starting to think that the normal people aren’t who I’m writing for.