One of the biggest comments (and criticisms) that I often use and see in book reviews is that certain scenes, characters, themes, etc. “feel Twilighty*.” (This post was inspired by Reutreads – check her out!)
Twilighty (adj) – refers to Twilight by Stephenie Meyer; similar or like Twilight
I’m sure at one point in time this was actually a GOOD thing, but now it’s almost insulting to have something referred to being Twilighty. Another insult would be calling a character too “Bella Swan,” but that’s a whole nother discussion.
In just about every English/Literature class you can take you’ll at some point learn about archetypes and what the different ones are. Don’t ask me what they are because I honestly can’t remember them, but in every book there’s at least one that shows up in some form or fashion (please don’t quote me on this). But I got to thinking… are there plot archetypes? Plotatypes? Plarchetypes?
The more I’ve been reading and blogging and reading other blogs the more I see that there are a lot of similar plots going around. Not necessarily plots I guess; more like themes. Here is one:
Boy meets girl -> they hate each other but are drawn to each other -> crazy life-altering experience happens -> boy and girl fall in love -> girl’s best friend is in love with her -> boy and best friend hate each other -> crazy life-altering experience happens -> girl has feelings for both boys -> crazy life-altering experience happens -> girl chooses original boy -> best friend falls in love with girl’s monster baby daughter
Okay, I added that last part in there… but you see? Up until that line that plot could be a number of books. But is this a bad thing? Is it bad to use a plot that has proven to work?
Personally, I don’t think so. Plots are plots and with as many books as there are out there, there’s really no possibility that there’s going to be a totally original plot. I think what makes plots “original” are the characters and “crazy life-altering experience” that they’re faced with. That’s what tends to freshen up a somewhat overused plot.
Maybe you’ve already read a book about a girl who enters a magical world and has to slay a dragon. The girl was timid and shy but while in the magical world found her strength and courage and was able to slay the dragon. Now, what if the girl was already a badass before she entered the magical world and knew kickass sword skills but the dragon was a kindly dragon who liked to sing songs and read fairy tales? See? Plot is basically the same but you’ve got a whole new set of characters who are going to react differently.
So what do you do when you get to a plot and you think “I JUST read this in Twilight!”? Does it make your experience with the book bad or do you try to focus on the differences between your current read and older reads? Or does that help to enhance your reading experience?
*Please note that I do not hate Twilight nor do I discourage others from reading it.