What Breaking Dawn Taught Me About Show And Tell

*Disclaimer: Contains minor movie spoilers*

I like the Twilight book series. I admit it with no shame. The movies are a whole other ballgame however.

Before we get to that, let me just say this: If you hate Twilight because you think Stephanie Meyer is a horrible writer, I say this: Give her a break.

She wrote for three months and ended up a freaking gazillionaire. It was a miracle. A phenomenon. I doubt ANY writer I know would turn down such an opportunity. Did the books need better editing?? Sure. Did the story seem a little forced after book one? Some think so. Was it a little cheesy? Why yes. But most of us sappy females don’t care. Was Edward a little crazy obsessive and jealous? Uh huh. But he did it in such an oddly attractive way 😉 Plus…the man sparkles. We all know that is important.

Anyway…my point is that I don’t fault Stephanie Meyer. She was fairly new to writing and she had an idea that would sell and a publisher that didn’t insist proper edits be done before shoving her manuscript between a nice cover and rushing it to the shelves. Ultimately, the responsibility falls on us writers I suppose, but I just always try to look at things from both sides. Can you imagine her excitement? She probably didn’t even think about how many times she used the word incredulous. So…I cut her some slack.


Now…back to the film.

Breaking Dawn pretty much disappointed me more than I ever imagined. I wasn’t expecting an Oscar winner but come on….Constant soap opera background music for 117 minutes??? I wanted to stuff popcorn in my ears.

And don’t get me started on the goofy talking wolves or the absolutely horrific dialogue or ridiculously un-scary Volturri. I could go on for days. Maybe the writer part of me took over and analyzed every second.

Or maybe it was really just that bad.

The movie did have some really pretty settings and some funny moments that made me laugh. I also liked the nervous pre-honeymoon scene. AND…the special effects transforming Bella from a healthy 18 year old to an emaciated girl pregnant with a vampire baby were pretty awesome.

The movie also did a good job of reminding me of something about my writing: Show, don’t tell.

It was as if the director only chose the highlights of the book to use as scenes, which I guess makes sense, but what about the stuff in between? Those moments of deliberation and thought when characters decide what to do – when they come to a revelation or moment of truth? For instance…Jacob – speaking to Esme – says…and this dialogue is not exact but close:

“You would die for her?”
“Of course. We’re family,” said Esme.
“I can see that. Like a real family. Real as the one I was born in to.”

So what’s the big deal??? YOU NEVER SEE HIM ACKNOWLEDGE THIS. There is never a moment when you see the revelation occur on his face before this statement. This is TELLING in film instead of SHOWING. It happened over and over and over. The audience is TOLD what’s going on rather than SHOWN. We writers learn this when we study nonverbals and action beats. Sometimes it’s what’s NOT SAID that tells us the most about what a character thinks or feels. Actors have to learn this too. They have to actually convey meaning on their face or through mannerisms. Tough job.

The point is, it bothered me that the movie didn’t show things developing. They just were. The only thing I saw brewing in the background was Charlie’s understanding that something more is going on with Bella. You see it on his face when he’s at Billy Black’s. It’s not stated, but you know.

So – all in all the movie did not do it for me but I did get a good reminder of why it is soooo important to show and not tell.

Showing involves the viewer/reader discovering. And that’s what a journey of any character is, right? A discovery? And we want to be involved….not a bystander watching from the sidelines.

Now…some music for your day….I love this song 🙂

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5 Comments

  1. I haven't seen the movies at all. Well, that's a lie. I saw the first 3.5 minutes of the first one and called it good.

    I hate it when movies don't show – I'm pretty sure that is what they were made for…

  2. Most books to movies are not very good. I didn't like the first part of Deathly Hallows much because it didn't SHOW Dudley shaking Harry's hand. It didn't SHOW that Dudders understood that somehow, Harry had once saved his life and he respected his cousin for that.
    But this is movies for you. They do teach us a lot.
    As for Ms. Meyers and her writing… I suppose I do sort of blame her in the respect that she should have insisted on taking some time to edit more seriously. Even if she was new to it all, then perhaps things would have looked a little better and I would have felt she deserved those gazillions. Maybe deserved is not the right word, but I can't quite put my finger on the one I need.
    Great post!

  3. I haven't bought a ticket yet on the Twilight Train — I know, right? Haven't read one sentence of Stephanie Meyer's writing and when I do, I'm going to try to form my own opinions on it. That's going to be hard, since I've heard so much about it. But I absolutely agree with what you said about her incredible success and how we writers should celebrate her more than we do. Hell, if her success happened to me? I'd still be swinging from a chandelier as I typed this.

    And as for the movies, well, I have a rule. Never see the movie before I read the book. From the sounds of your assessment on the last Twilight movie, added to all the other movie reviews I've come across, I guess the wait won't kill me. haha!

    Have a great holiday week!

  4. I agree with Celedonia Lass about the first part of the Deathly Hallows movie. The second part was the best of the HP movies, though. Lots of showing!

    Loved the Twilight books when I read them, and I agree with you about Stephanie Meyers. But the movies? Blech. Jacob (I'm Team Jacob) and Edward are hotter and much more intersting in my imagination than in the movies.

    Sigh.