If you are one of the 2.7 people in North America who wish to read the Twilight books and have yet to do so. Please stop reading immediately as this is the only spoiler alert that you are likely to receive. So there!
This week in my reading I learned that when a character says exactly the right thing or something totally unexpected that fits their personality precisely it makes that character feel like a living breathing individual to the reader, not someone who consists of flattened tree pulp and ink, but a human, a friend. Oh and it was also reinforced that a character is much more interesting if they are suffering a wee bit, or a large bit. It can’t be over dramatic, they must still be funny and maybe a tad bit charming, but suffering all the while.
I was re-reading “Breaking Dawn” this week. This is not Stephanie Mayer’s best book, but there are places where the characters are so real that you can literally hear their horrified gasp over your lack of fashion sense, feel the heat from their 108.9 degree skin as they glower at the wedding invitations, or see their ice cold rage as you lay at death’s door for the 4th consecutive time in two short years.
Jacob has my favorite lines in this book. Although Edward has his share of suffering we are never in his head, and Jacob suffers for a larger portion of the novel. Or perhaps it is because I married a Han. Jacob is definitely a Han.
Ok, when Edward sends a wedding invitation to Jacob and he freaks out and turns wolf for several months, but despite everything shows up at Bella’s wedding.
“Suddenly, he was smiling a brilliant smile.
‘What is it?’ I asked.
‘A surprise wedding gift.’
He didn’t answer; he just started dancing again, spinning me the opposite way we’d been headed before, away from the lights and then into the deep swath of night that ringed the luminous dance floor.
He didn’t pause until we reached the dark side of one of the huge cedars. Then Edward looked straight into the blackest shadow.
‘Thank you,’ Edward said to the darkness. ‘This is very…kind of you.’
‘Kind is my middle name,’ a husky familiar voice answered from the black night. ‘Can I cut in?'”
Now this would be cheesy except for one thing. After reading all of these books, after seeing Jacob pull Bella out of the deepest depression, be rejected, fall in love with her, be rejected, show her that she loves him too, be rejected, and finally show up at the wedding to dance with the bride. I can see anger black in his eyes, feel his hands tremble as he attempts to keep from bursting into wolf form in the middle of the reception, hear the hurt and resignation in his voice. He would totally say that and because we know him, it sounds believable.
And for my last quote. This always makes me laugh out loud, every time. It is a terrible part of the book, and yet so funny? Who would have known. So Bella is pregnant with Edward’s half vampire baby and all the legends say that she will die. She’s not strong enough to carry the baby to term, but she refuses to abort her child. In a desperate attempt to save her life Edward begs Jacob to convince her to have someone else’s baby if she wants a baby. A baby that won’t kill her.
“I felt like–Like I don’t know what. Like this wasn’t real. Like I was in some Goth version of a bad sitcom. Instead of being the A/V dweeb about to ask the head cheerleader to the prom, I was the finished-second-place werewolf about to ask the vampire’s wife to shack up and procreate. Nice.”
Don’t worry Mom. She says no. But despite the sheer horribleness of the whole idea, the sense of character, of voice, cracks me up every time. Now all I have to do is learn how to make characters that sound so real you can hear them howling in the woods just outside your door. Or perhaps talk, depending on the mythological content of the book. Nothing but work work work. Ah well.