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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What Writers Can Learn From The Vampire Diaries

As most of you probably know, I have a vampire fetish of sorts. I dig them in any format: books, movies, television shows. I offered my firstborn begged and pleaded to be an extra in the Twilight series, but it was a no go. What do you think? Couldn't I totally pass for one of the Cullens...after they have been well-fed?

Don't tell me you don't think that's cool. I will let you know how to do it if you ask nicely. Anyway, moving on...

In one of the latest episodes of The Vampire Diaries (TVD), there was an incredible song featured at the end of it by Ross Copperman, called "Holding On and Letting Go." It has amazing lyrics, and I've been held captive by them all weekend. Here's the chorus:

It's everything you wanted, it's everything you don't
It's one door swinging open and one door swinging closed
Some prayers find an answer
Some prayers never know
We're holding on and letting go

Can't every breathing person relate to that? It's nothing new for me to have an emotional experience while watching this show. Yes, some of it revolves around teenage angst and drama, but most of it is truly gripping stuff that pulls your heartstrings. (TVD fans unite!) And the music is nothing short of masterful in helping accomplish this.

This little beauty of a clip (from Season 3, Episode 10) resonated with me so much (I stalked the internet to find out who sang the song), that I took some time to analyze why. I believer there's a lot to glean for romance writers in particular.

1) It throws us a bone. I think those of us on Team Damon still have a ways to wait before things really heat up with him and Elena, but our hearts just sang with this kiss! It's not their first, but it's definitely the best. Just as we're beginning to despair--possibly grow uninterested--we get this firecracker romantic moment, and now I'm chomping at the bits for continuing episodes.

2) It keeps us guessing. This wasn't the perfect ending by any stretch. He's telling her he can't have her because she's "his brother's girl, and all," even though he definitely wants her Clearly, she is shaken by the kiss. He means something to her...but just what, we're not sure. The producers sure do play their cards close to the chest. They only reveal things little by little. (see #1)

3) It's one heck of a love triangle. Not every book, movie or show has to have one, of course, but many of the great ones have this built-in tension. The fact that Stephan is Damon's brother makes this triangle all the harder to swallow.

4) It takes us by surprise. Damon's, "No. No. You know what?" moment there at the very end to return and kiss Elena (so that he has something tangible to feel guilty for) isn't what we were expecting. But dang, don't we love it.

5) The mood matches the tone and vice versa. Since writers don't get to have accompanying music, we have to work harder at getting this mix right. Pacing is key here. The fact that the music swells into the silence of their kiss is amazing production--and amazing pacing, given that the song started minutes before during other scenes. If the audience isn't caught up in this, then they don't have a pulse.

Let's analyze: What other reasons do you think shows like The Vampire Diaries and dozens of others keep viewers tuning in week after week?

There's plenty of time to take my Writer's Quiz on whether listening to music while writing affects productivity. So click on over!