Blog 76: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, How It Could Have Been Written…

October 26, 2018

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I was on Netflix recently and I happened to notice that the film version of Twilight has now been added to the many films and series you can watch on the platform. Over the years I’ve heard many good things about Twilight and many bad things too, I would say that I’ve watched more critical reviews of the films, books and the author than overall positive reviews, and in a lot of cases I agreed with the critical reviews of the films and books. In all honesty, I feel sorry for Meyer when it comes to all the bad stuff she has had to put up with over the years, not to mention the blatant plagiarism and corruption of her work which resulted in the ridiculously successful, abomination that is Fifty Shades of Grey. However, it was about one o’clock in the morning when I happened to be browsing Netflix, and Twilight being somewhat of a guilty pleasure of mine, I decided, ‘hey, why not watch it again?’ So I did.

I actually think the Twilight book is ok, even good in its own way, but I will only say that about Twilight. The other books in the series would have been better off left unwritten in my opinion. I feel like Twilight as a standalone novel would have worked much better. Even the film, which I have to admit, really didn’t do it for me the first time I watched it, was surprisingly ok and would have worked as a one off film. I don’t know if I was just tired, but as I watched the film again I couldn’t help but notice that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart actually pulled off Bella and Edward quite well. Pattinson might not be the way I imagined Edward Cullen, but his acting was ok and fairly believable and Stewarts rendition of Bella was ok and fairly believable too, lip biting aside. I believe that both Pattinson and Stewart did a good job with the story and characters they had to work with.

I finished watching the film, though I did skip the ending, and I was surprised to find that I had enjoyed the film and it wasn’t actually as bad as all the critical reviews out there had led me to believe. This got me thinking about the book again and I thought, yeah the book is good, the main conflict doesn’t really appear until two thirds of the way in, but the book is still good and I would read it again. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its problems, because it does have problems. Some of the characters behave in strange ways, certain plot devices feel like they were just thrown in for the hell of it and I don’t even want to go down the route of what became book two, three and four.

**There are spoilers in this blog so stop reading now if you haven’t read/want to read Twilight.**

So as I finally went to bed my author/writing brain kicked in and I started to think about the problems I have noticed with Twilight and how I would try to fix them. I reimagined Twilight and I arrived at several conclusions, this is how I think Twilight could have been written…

La tua cantante is the Italian expression for a human whose blood particularly appeals to a certain vampire in an extreme sense. 

“They have a name for someone who smells the way Bella does to me. They call her my ‘singer’—because her blood sings for me.” – Edward Cullen. 

Firstly, I would get rid of the ‘La tua cantante’ thing, or at least, direct it elsewhere. What I mean by this is I don’t think Bella’s blood should appeal to Edward in an extreme sense. There are two problems with this, it cheapens the romance between Bella and Edward because you’re never entirely sure, at least to begin with, whether Edward actually likes Bella or whether he is just hanging around her because he really wants to drink her blood. The second problem is, when Bella is bitten by James, Carlisle Cullen tells Edward that he must suck the venom out of Bella’s blood to prevent her from turning into a vampire because he(Carlisle) has to stop the bleeding in her head. This doesn’t make any sense, Carlisle has much more control and restraint around humans and human blood due to his age and his job as a doctor, and Bella’s blood does not ‘sing’ for Carlisle like it does for Edward, therefore it would make more sense if Carlisle had sucked the venom out of Bella’s blood and just told Edward how to stop the bleeding in her head. The fact that Edward did suck the venom out of Bella’s blood feels like it was only put there to add tension and drama.

What would have been interesting, is if Bella’s blood did sing for one of the members of the Cullen’s, just not Edward. The obvious choices would be Carlisle or Jasper. Carlisle would have been a good choice because being a doctor and having built up so much self-control and restraint, it would have posed a natural internal conflict for Carlisle. It would also mean that when he asks Edward to suck the venom out of Bella’s blood it would have been more believable because he wouldn’t feel confident doing it himself. Jasper would also be a good choice, as the newest and youngest member of the Cullen family, he has the least experience and struggles the most with his self-control around human blood. He would find it the most difficult to resist Bella’s blood, especially if it did sing for him. The reason why I think it should have been one of the other Cullen’s is because it would cause more tension within the family itself around Bella and Edward’s relationship.

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Secondly, Bella’s relationship with her father (Charlie) is a little strange. They have this cold and somewhat distant relationship which would make some sense had Bella actually been old enough to remember her parent’s divorce. As it is in the book, her parent’s divorced when she was a baby and Bella’s mum left the cold and rainy town of Forks with Bella as a baby. Bella returned to Forks for a month every summer to visit her father up until she was fourteen, after this she insisted that he should meet her somewhere sunnier instead. Even with Bella’s dislike of Forks, you would still think that she would have a better and closer relationship with her father, he is her father after all, and she did visit him every year. Charlie is a likeable father figure so there is no reason why they wouldn’t have a closer and warmer relationship.

Thirdly and following on from my second point, Bella could have been a much stronger main character. She moves to Forks because she loves her mum and wants her mum to be happy with her new partner, who needs to travel around the country for work. Bella could have been a selfless and compassionate character, moving to Forks because she loves both of her parents and wants them to be happy. Even disliking Forks, she could have seen it as an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with her father, and make the most out of her situation by trying to make good friends and being generally proactive in school and town. In the book she keeps herself to herself a lot of the time and stares at Edward. She sort of makes friends with Jessica and Angela, but they are quickly forgotten about when Edward and Bella start dating.

Forth point, Edward shouldn’t approach Bella or even try to speak to her right away. In the cafeteria, Jessica explains who the Cullens are and that they keep themselves to themselves. Edward being a vampire, along with the rest of his family, keep away from their human classmates because they want to keep their true identities hidden. Edward would still be puzzled by Bella because he wouldn’t be able to read her thoughts like he can with everyone else, this on its own should have been enough to keep Edward interested in Bella, possibly even infuriated by the fact that he can’t read her thoughts, but he should still maintain his distance from her for the sake of his family. He could still watch Bella and still listen to her conversations with his super hearing and read the thoughts of those around her to try and learn more about Bella, and in this way he could have found that despite not being able to read her thoughts, that they have some things in common, share some interests and that actually he might sort of like her. One of the things that could have been a common interest between these characters is their love of music and Bella, like Edward, could have enjoyed playing the piano.

Fifth point, Twilight should have been written from multiple view points. Twilight is restricted because it is only told from Bella’s point of view and because of this, the main source of conflict with James doesn’t appear until much later in the book. If there had been multiple view points, not only could the reader get to know Edward and his thoughts, making him a more relatable and likeable character, but the reader could have also learnt about the danger James and his group posed a lot earlier in the book. This could have been achieved either through Edwards view point as he discusses it with his family, or through James view point. There would have been a sense of real danger as James and his group could still be killing humans in and around Forks, but they could also pose the threat of exposing the Cullens in the process. The Cullen’s could even go out to meet James and co and ask them to leave, and James and co could outright refuse. The Cullens having only just moved back to Forks wouldn’t want to move again unless it was absolutely necessary, and they wouldn’t want to be exposed as vampires, so they would have a real motive for wanting to get rid of James and his group from the area.

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Sixth point, Jacob. Love triangles are a bit hit or miss with me, but I think if Jacob had been older from the start and already knew he was a werewolf and that his family were werewolves, this would have worked much better. I think that Bella, having spent a month every summer with her father in Forks up until the age of fourteen would have naturally been, good friends with Jacob Black. It makes sense because Charlie and Jacob’s father (Billy) are close friends and spend a lot of time together. When Bella moves to Forks permanently, this would create a perfect opportunity for her friendship with Jacob to develop into a natural romantic relationship. Before moving to Forks she could even be a little bit excited and pleased that she at least knows one friend in Forks. I think Bella and Jacob should have had a relationship first whilst Edward maintained his distance, and I think Jacob should have been included in Bella’s friendship groups at school too. Jacob could still go to school in La Push and wouldn’t have to be around all the time, after all, he has his own secret to hide, but he could have still had a romantic relationship with Bella to begin with. This would then have to come to an end and the perfect way of doing this would be for Jacob to imprint on someone else his own age, and for him to then breakup with Bella with no real explanation as to why. Secretly Jacob would be upset over this and he would have been hoping to imprint on Bella, but it just didn’t happen. Bella could have then driven to Jacob’s house and seen him with another girl, and concluded correctly that she had been replaced and then driven away again. A heartbroken Bella would then return to her friends at school and have to tell them the news, whilst trying to keep her chin up and get on with her life in Forks for the sake of her mother and father. She could even spend a night at Jessica’s house with Angela for a girly sleepover and tell them all about it.

Seventh point, Edward as a second romantic relationship. During Jacobs and Bella’s relationship, Edward would have been maintaining his distance and watching Bella, trying to figure out what she is thinking and also wondering why he can’t hear her thoughts. Over the time he spends discretely watching her he would learn little bits of information about her but he would still feel like he doesn’t really know her. Frustrated by this, because this would be a new thing for Edward, as since being a vampire he has always been able to read other people’s thoughts, Edward eventually decides to try and talk to Bella and ask her direct questions. This would be odd and out of the blue as he would have been ignoring her like he does with everyone else up until this point. Bella, surprised by this, would start talking to Edward and the two of them would begin to have more conversations. Edwards primary motivation would be that he just wants to know what she is thinking because he can’t read her thoughts, but slowly he would actually realise that he enjoys Bella’s company and likes spending time with her. The two of them would become closer, Jacob could even notice this and try and warn Bella away from Edward, but of course she wouldn’t be particularly happy with him since their breakup and she wouldn’t listen to Jacob at this point. Bella would, however, start to notice strange things about Edward, and he could still save her life, which would then lead Bella to wanting to find out more and coming up with her own theories. Edward and Bella’s relationship would be in direct comparison to Jacob and Bella’s relationship and Bella would realise that her relationship with Edward is actually much better than her relationship with Jacob. She could discover that even though she did love Jacob at the time, they actually weren’t as well suited as she had thought, and her love for Edward is stronger and much more powerful than she ever could have imagined.

Eighth point, when Bella confronts Edward about being a vampire she should not walk off into the woods alone as she does in the book and the film. I know that this was done to prove that Bella wasn’t afraid of Edward, but its still stupid, and no sane person would do that. Bella should confront Edward about being a vampire in a private manner but in a public place. She could have confronted him whilst they sat in his car somewhere in a busy town when there are people about. Or even in a restaurant in a little booth tucked in the corner of the room, but still where there are people around. There are dozens of possibilities, the point is she shouldn’t do it in a secluded, quiet space where he could quite easily kill her and get rid of the body. The ‘trust’ and not being afraid of Edward could have been tested later when they do go off into the woods to the little meadow, because then she would have to follow him to a quiet and secluded spot.

Ninth point, the scene where Bella is confronted by a group of men and Edward rescues her again is completely redundant. It doesn’t really need to be there, and in my reimagined version it isn’t needed at all. She could still go to the town with Angela and Jessica to get dresses, and she could still go to the bookshop to do her own research, this could have even started around Jacob if Bella had noticed Jacob acting strangely at times during their relationship. As she researches their clan, learns about their connection to wolves she could have learnt about the tale of ‘the cold ones’ this way instead. Or even when she spends time with Jacob in La Push she could have heard about the tale of ‘the cold ones’ from him or his family.

Tenth point, the main source of conflict doesn’t show up until two thirds of the way through the book. James and co really need to come into the book a lot earlier, and the threat they pose really needed to be shown to the reader a lot earlier too. You could potentially have a scene where Edward is hunting them down trying to get them away from Forks, partly so they don’t expose the Cullens but also to protect Bella, and during this hunt he runs into Jacob as a werewolf who is also hunting James and co because they keep crossing the border between the Cullen’s land and the werewolves land. This would have set up a perfect tense conversation between ex-boyfriend and new boyfriend.

Eleventh point, the baseball match would probably have to go. Instead of James discovering Edward’s relationship with Bella at their baseball game, he could have discovered their relationship just by Bella and Edward being together or even walking down the street together. James could still decide then that he wants to hunt Bella down, and Edward would still be able to read his thoughts and want to spirit Bella away from Forks. This means the overall ending could have remained largely the same and Bella could almost turn into a vampire or almost die. In some ways it would make more sense for Bella to almost die and for the only way for Edward to save her is to turn her into a vampire. Or at least if he does save her, it is because he wants to give her the choice as opposed to letting her just turn. Edward wanting to protect Bella and keep her a human doesn’t really make any sense, it endangers her life, and if he really truly loved her, he would want to spend his entire existence with her. He wouldn’t want her to grow old and die so that he could be alone in the world again, and it isn’t fair on Bella to be expected to grow old and die, whilst Edward remains young and immortal. In fact, it would work much better had Edward wanted Bella to join him as a vampire, respected her by giving her the choice, and Bella actually being torn about the decision due to caring about her family and friends, and being in love (or rather falling deeply in love) with Edward.

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To wrap this up as it is getting a bit long now. I do think having an initial relationship with Jacob and Bella would work, because you could show the reader that yes they are in love and everything looks great, but by having the second relationship with Edward and Bella you could show how much stronger their relationship is and how they have much more in common. You could also deal with the dreaded, ending a relationship and then trying to remain friends with your ex scenario, which is a realistic scenario that most people face.  Making Bella a stronger character doesn’t only make her more interesting but her character then doesn’t have to solely rely on her romantic relationships, it adds depth to her character and she can have real, meaningful friendships showing that she doesn’t have to rely solely on a guy. By having multiple POV’s you could build Edward’s character and you could also introduce the main source of conflict a lot earlier in the book. I know I haven’t mentioned the other Cullens, in particular Rosalie, but her reasons for disliking Bella are still valid and still work in my reimagined version. Having one of the other Cullens struggle with their blood-lust for Bella would also make Bella feel guilty about being the cause of this distress and cause more tension within the family.

There are several changes I think could have been made to Twilight which would have improved the overall story. I also think it could have been done in one, maybe two books. I would personally prefer one book as I don’t like to end on cliff-hangers but you could potentially add a lot more dialogue between characters when building relationships which would potentially bulk out the story. I won’t talk about book 2, 3 and 4 in Meyer’s Twilight series because I think the characters act bizarrely and Edward comes across as a jerk. It’s also just plain creepy how Jacob imprints on a baby, nonetheless Bella and Edward’s baby. That is why I prefer Twilight as a standalone novel, and as my reimagined version will probably never be written, Twilight works as it is and it leaves you wondering whether or not Edward will agree to turn Bella into a vampire. It leaves it open to the reader which means you can imagine your own ending.

That’s it from me for now. Happy reading, bibliophiles, and authors – carry on writing!