Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Twilight Fan Fiction

I know a teacher who asks her students in each class to formulate a thesis for a term paper, do the research, draw up an outline...and then not write the paper itself. They turn in the preliminary work instead.

I'm going to take my cue from this humane and generous impulse to avoid the production of material that no one wants to write or read. I will not write a piece of fan fiction based on the Twilight series, but I am going to write about my ideas for one. There's quite a bit to talk about.

My concept is to retell the story of the first novel from a minor character's point of view. This is a pretty standard way of taking a well-known story and writing into it perspectives and identities that may have been occluded or denied in the original. Here's my narrator: Eric Yorkie, "a gangly boy with skin problems and hair black as an oil slick....He looked like the overly helpful, chess club type" (Twilight, ch.1).

Our heroine Bella dismisses him out of hand just after he introduces himself, and so does the narrative. He barely turns up again, this awkward, unattractive boy skulking in the margins of a story where everyone who matters is muscled and beautiful. What would it be like to tell the story in the voice of the character who is dispensable, who isn't really part of the story, of any story?

Meyer's books would provide the settings, characters and events, the storyworld's reality. I'd have a lot of freedom to invent details about Eric's external and internal life, since none of these gets filled in. The only constraint is that I must not contradict anything Meyer writes in the novels (that last modifier is crucial--more on that later).

Eric as narrator is going to sound rather different from Bella, but I do want him to obey the same narrative rules. For instance: Bella uses the first person, so Eric will use the first person. In preparation for this fan fiction, then, I need to establish a narrative grammar for the series, the set of rules that will allow Eric to speak in a way that fully respects the literary conventions of the Twilight universe. Only in this way can Eric subvert that universe from within.

More to come...

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