Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Writing in my Vampire Diaries at Twilight.

I've mentioned it before, and I thought I would be remiss not to blog about it. There are some stunning similarities between Stephenie Meyer's Twilight and L. J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries. Now, I'm not using the P-word here, because that's a serious accusation, and I truly think that a lot of these similarities stem from the fact that teen love stories always have the same elements, and vampire books always have the same elements, and so it was just going to happen at some point that someone was going to combine them in the same ways.

The Vampire Diaries vs. Twilight: A Battle Of The Similarities!
The Heroine:

  • Elena Gilbert, The Vampire Diaries: Elena is beautiful, tan, and popular. Every boy wants her, every girl wants to be her, yadda yadda. Often accused of being a "Mary Sue," a character so sickeningly perfect that she simply must be an avatar of the author's idealized self.
  • Bella Swan, Twilight: Although Bella doesn't recognize that she is beautiful, she is, but in a pale, brunette, tragic sort of way. Every boy wants her. Often accused of being a "Mary Sue," because she's sickeningly perfect aside from one token flaw, so she simply must be an avatar of the author's idealized self.

The similarities between Elena and Bella aren't that many. Sure, the book opens with Bella "losing" a parent, but her move to Forks is far different than Elena's loss of both her parents in a car accident. And where Elena is living with her loving aunt, with whom she has a great relationship, Bella is going to live in a strained domestic situation with her father, who she hardly knows. Elena is popular, and Bella drives the people who inexplicably want to be her friends away with her single-minded obsession with Edward and her basic iciness. Elena has a younger sibling, Bella is an only child. But there are similarities. Both of them start out the school year with a pretty bleak opinion of how this whole thing is going to go down:

Elena: Dear Diary, Something awful is going to happen today.

Bella: He wished me good luck at school. I thanked him, knowing his hope was wasted.

They also both have run-ins with vampires on their first day of school. Naturally, these are:

The Heroes

  • Stefan Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries. An Olympic gold medalist at brooding, Stefan is very European and mysterious, with dark, curly hair, pale skin, and a certain something about him that makes every single girl at school want him. He'll have none of them, though, even feigning disinterest in Elena, who he feels an instant connection to. Because he doesn't want to be a monster, Stefan feeds only on wild animals.
  • Edward Cullen, Twilight. An Olympic gold medalist at brooding, Edward is very old-fashioned and mysterious, with copper-colored, curly hair, pale skin, and a certain something about him that makes every single girl at school want him. He'll have none of them, though, even feigning disgust at Bella, who he feels an instant connection to. Because he doesn't want to be a monster, Edward feeds only on wild animals.


Sure, Edward is about four centuries younger than Stefan, and they hail from difference countries, but they're basically the same guy, different baggage. For example, Edward wants to be a nice, vegetarian vampire because his maker is a nice, vegetarian vampire. Stefan wants to be a nice, vegetarian vampire because his brother, Damon, is a full-time psychopath who burns through teenagers like they're walking cans of Pringles. Stefan is sullen and morose because the only woman he ever loved died horribly. Edwards is sullen and morose because he's never been loved, and doesn't feel he's worthy of love. Both are going to high school for ridiculous, badly explained reasons. They both pretend not to be interested in the heroine, until they can rescue her after an unfortunate decision puts their virtue in danger (Elena goes to a cemetery with her prom date, Bella goes out wandering in town at night after shopping for prom dresses):

And the something picked Tyler up and threw him against his grandfather's headstone... Something moved in the darkness, and she saw the person who had plucked Tyler off her. Stefan Salvatore. But it was a Stefan she had never seen before: that fine-featured face was white and cold with fury, and there was a killing light in those green eyes. Without even moving, Stefan emanated such anger and menace that Elena found herself more frightened of him than she had been of Tyler.

Headlights suddenly flew around the corner, the car almost hitting the stocky one, forcing him to jump back toward the sidewalk. I dove into the road-- this car was going to stop, or have to hit me. But the silver car unexpectedly fishtailed around, skidding to a stop with the passenger door open just a few feet from me.
"Get in," a furious voice commanded.


I'll point out here that in the movie, the confrontation between Edward and Bella's would-be rapists is much more like the scene from The Vampire Diaries than the same scene in the book was. I can only assume someone on the screen-writing team was a fan. But this isn't the only scene the two books have in common:

Scenes With Similar Themes:
Scene with the high school secretary:

  • The Vampire Diaries: Elena watches as Stefan uses his hypno vampire powers on the school secretary in order to get a class schedule. It works.
  • Twilight: Bella watches as Edward uses his teenage whining powers on the school secretary in order to get his class schedule changed. It doesn't work.


Scene in which the heroine wonders why the aloof vampire didn't just leave her for dead:

  • The Vampire Diaries: "Why do you hate me?"
    He stared at her. For a moment he couldn't seem to find words. then he said, "I don't hate you."
    "You do," said Elena. "I know it's not... not good manners to say it, but I don't care. I know I should be grateful to you for saving me tonight, but I don't care about that, either. I didn't ask you to save me. I don't know why you were even in the graveyard in the first place. And I certainly don't understand why you did it, considering the way you feel about me."
    He was shaking his head, but his voice was soft. "I don't hate you."
  • Twilight: "It's too bad you didn't figure that out earlier," I hissed through my teeth. "You could have saved yourself all this regret."
    "Regret?" The word, and my tone, obviously caught him off guard. "Regret for what?"
    "For not just letting that stupid van squish me."
    He was astonished. He stared at me in disbelief.
    When he finally spoke, he almost sounded mad. "You think I regret saving your life?"



As I said before, there is always some element that vampire fiction for teens is going to recycle. There is always going to be school, there is always going to be a "new kid" element. There is always going to be repressed sexuality (although Smith really pushed the envelope in terms of steamy scenes with the blood drinking in The Vampire Diaries, in a way that Breaking Dawn never came close to). If Twilight had come out in 1991 and The Vampire Diaries had hit the way Twilight did today, fangurls would be watching Twilight on the CW and complaining that it was ripped off. But basically, they would still be idiots, and that's what I'm really trying to say here.

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