Wednesday, 20 February 2013

50 Shades of Twilight

A really long time ago, I read "Twilight" by Stephanie Meyer. The reason why is simple: I'm a writer.
I want to publish my books one day and I would like as many people to read my work as possible. So, I was checking out the competition, to see what all of the fuss was about.
Now, I'm not going to review the damn book, but from what I recall it was written well.
Many people denounce the book in its entirety, but that isn’t fair. The book does have good elements. I reckon Stephanie Meyer writes pretty good prose. Of course, just because Meyer can turn a phrase, that doesn’t mean she’s the next Hemingway.
The problem is that the story is really bad. A lot of the characters do very stupid things and the vampire physiology is just a joke. Also, while I enjoyed it as one of the few stories that delves into the tragic romance that is the stalker/victim relationship, it seems that Stephanie Meyer was trying to portray this as a healthy teenaged relationship . . .
Fun Fact of the Day: If one of your friends tells you her new relationship is ‘so Twilight’ you should call the police, keep your distance and check your local sex offender registry – cos he’s a goddamn sociopath.

The story is pretty reprehensible, and so a lot of people have reacted negatively. An awful lot.
The collective bile of incensed feminists, logicians, teachers & romance writers, which boiled up in response to this book, is enough to drown a baby elephant.

But, you know, Hatred isn’t always a bad thing. It wins wars, reproaches idiocy, defies injustice & gets the blood flowing. Sometimes, it can even create something beautiful. That’s what I want to talk to you about today. Because even Twilight can inspire something amazing, even in those of us that are a little, shall we say . . . jaded?
The Word of the Day is: 'GREEN'.

Green /green/ adj. 1. The color intermediate in the spectrum between yellow and blue. 2. Covered with herbage or foliage; verdant. 3. Full of life and vigour. 4. Characterized by a concern for environmental issues. Not fully developed or perfected in growth or condition; unripe; not properly aged: This peach is still green.

The reason why Twilight became popular can be summed up in two words: Untapped Market
Like R.L. Stine before her, Stephanie Meyer discovered a potential, unnoticed readership, and claimed it as her own. She was the first to succesfully provide girls with romance stories that spoke of desire, angst and sex.
This new readership of horny teenaged girls was starved of attention, desperate for a book to sate their niche. No matter how bad her books were they would be, by default, the best, since they were the only contenders. This books were so popular, bookstores invented the 'Paranormal Romance' genre, just so they had an excuse to fill whole rows of shelves with Twilight books.
When other writers saw this, a lot of them jumped on the bandwagon hoping to slip their books onto those new bookshelves.

And then, along came Lindsay Ellis.

You may know her already as the Nostalgia Chick, from ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com, and if you don’t then you’re missing out.

Young, Smart, Cynical & perhaps a little Bitter, this green-eyed nostalgia girl had an idea. After seeing and despising some of the latest Twilight rip-offs, and reading enough fanfiction to make even the bravest of us green about the gills, she decided to write her own paranormal romance novel. Since every Twilight rip-off had some supernatural shtick, she needed one as well, and her gimmick of choice was “Twilight with Aliens”.
It began with a twitter account she started: @SexyAlienBook
This account was updated by the fictitious ‘Alynn Darrkk’, an angsty, brooding alien sex symbol, pining for the affections of  Bella Swan  ‘Tatiana’. It was just a bit of fun, but this twitter account gave the internet the green light to brainstorm the potential of a paranormal romance fantasy, starring this ‘sexy alien’, and twitter went nuts with it.
This came to inspire in Lindsay the beginnings of a diabolical scheme.  With the help of her good friend, Nella, she started to make plans for an interactive webseries project destined to bring the publishing world the next modern romance novel blockbuster.
She called it:

  50 Shades of Green

Less than a week ago (at time of writing) Lindsay & her friend Nella addressed their audience with an intriguing proposal. They wanted us, as in the internet at large, to write them a story:

  LINDSAY: “We are crowd-sourcing the next worst, blockbuster, paranormal, romance novel. And you’re gonna help.”
  NELLA:   “I mean, we could probably do this without you, but what would be the fun in that?”

You should check out the official proposal yourself, in the video “Intro to the 50 Shades”. But basically the idea is this:

Step 01: DISCUSSION, BRAINSTORMING & ELECTION
  Starting in the final week of February [2013], The girls will begin a web-series which will be the jumping-off point. They will deconstruct, explain & extrapolate on the elements of this genre. Then they will ask for input, and allow the viewers to vote democratically on the elements of the book.

Step 02: WRITE THE DAMN THING
  I’m not sure on the exact details, but the girls, with the help of ghostwriters, will just write the story that the internet has devised, whilst filling in the viewers on the process of writing as it develops.
This part really interests me, since I would LOVE the challenge of ghostwriting a twilight rip-off. But that’s quite a ways down the road, and I don’t exactly know how to sign up. But still, it’s enticing.

Step 03: PUBLISH (OR SELF-PUBLISH)
  Lindsay & Nella both think publication is a few dozen rejection letters away. But sure as God made little green apples, the book will go to print, even if they have to self-publish! This is kind of the most boring part, since there’s not much to say about it. But in another way, it’s the most exciting part because – Dude, the Internet wrote a Book!

Step 04: PROFIT
  Time to get some of that green stuff . . .

Now, the plan was originally to make ‘Twilight with Aliens’, but since Stephanie Meyer actually beat them to the punch with “The Host”, there’s a chance the supernatural gimmick may change. A choice I would deeply deplore.
But no matter what becomes of this book, it’s an idea that fascinates me.

Multi-authored books have been done before, but none to any great effect. But a lot of that is failure in execution: Who writes it? Who decides it? What are the rules? What is the plan? Who’s in charge?
But this plan seems quite solid. And no matter how stupid the book is, it has a guaranteed market: the ones that wrote it. It’s a strange notion . . .
I’ve always figured that the only people who want to read fanfiction are the ones that write it. But even if that is the case for 50 Shades of Green, that would be a viable market since it’s being written by so many people. You have a marketable audience within the authors!
It’s almost paradoxical in its self-serving brilliance.

It’s such a brilliant scheme, I’m positively green with envy that I didn’t come up with it myself. I must admit that if I had access to a large, willing, compliant & intelligent enough portion of the internet, I would gladly consider doing this myself.
But alas, it is not to be. I can only hope that the grass looks this green from that side of the fence.

In the meantime, I will endeavour to contribute, vote & inspire within this developing 50 Shades of Green community.
If you too want to get in on this verdant venture, we’ve been given the following ports of call:

Or Tweet:
Feel free to Subscribe, Comment, Tweet or ignore those, as you see fit. It all starts ­next week.

In the meantime, definitely don’t just Google the phrase “50 Shades of Green”. Turns out, it’s not exactly the most original title in the world. When I tried it I came across all kinds of madness and mania, up to and including perhaps my favourite thing that I have accidentally stumbled upon within the internet:
A blogger who wrote a post listing literally fifty different shades of the colour green that she found in her garden. What a trooper.

Well that’s about it. But as we march that green mile, I’d like to wish the enterprise good luck. I would truly like to see this succeed.
After all, just last post I spoke about how protagonists, stories & fiction should have no boundaries. Well, that does include both authorship and execution. There’s a veritable fiddler’s green of exercises, games, activities & formats out there with which you can write a story. In fact, that’s a fun topic for discussion . . .
Either next post, or soon after, we’ll take a look at some of the interesting ways in which books have been written.

Until then, feel free to talk amongst yourselves.


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