Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Look at Twilight

That book I mentioned last week that I just couldn't put down? Yup, it was Twilight. Now granted, I can rarely put down any book even if I hate it, but this one really held my interest.

Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer has caused a lot of controversy within the writer's circle. The intense amount of adverbs alongside robust descriptions bordering on purple prose have led many a new writer to wonder how Ms. Meyer could achieve such success when they receive rejection after rejection for "vastly superior work." I'm going to try to make sense of this reality here.

First, let's address the arguments from the poo poo corner. Adverbs. And lots of 'em. I'll admit that there were a significant number of dialogue tags with adverbs in practically every one of them. But let's think about this. First, Twilight is not a self-published book. Meyer had an editor comb through every bit of that book probably dozens of times before it went to publication and graced the bookstores with its pretty little cover. You can not argue about her supposed inferior writing skills unless you also want to poo poo said editor. Second, it's not a book for adults. We as writers may forget (but honestly never should and have no excuse for doing it) that there are different reading levels in books. We may spout off about Middle Grade and Young Adult with some authority, but to be honest, I've read many examples from new writers that are similar in style to an adult reading level. I have always been told (and forgive me if you know this to be incorrect) that the lower you go in the reading level, the more adverbs you include. Just because I, as a writer of adult fiction, would prefer to replace one of her adverbs with something that I feel would be better doesn't mean I would be right in so doing.

Another argument: Edward was just too darn perfect. I'll admit that Edward could have been dangerously close to being a Mary Sue, except for one reason--Twilight was written in First Person. The first person account of any narrator has to be suspect and Bella was in love with him! Of course he was perfect! He was her knight in shining armor; there was nothing that could ever be wrong with him.

Poo Poo corner round three: Bella was too whiny. Come on now. This, I think, requires no explanation. She was a teenage girl. Enough said. In fact, I think it's to Meyer's credit that she was able to depict human nature so well.

And finally, vampires shouldn't sparkle. Eh, I am probably more on the side of the poo poos here. From what I've read, this particular description is in keeping with Ms. Meyer's dream, so I can see why she may not have been willing to part with it. And to be honest, she worked it into the story well enough by creating problems for the vampire family. They couldn't just be out in the daytime with absolutely nothing to stop them. It was a (much needed) limit to their power and influence. Also, I always saw the sparkly nature of the vampires' as Edward tried to explain it: another weapon in their arsenal. Nature itself has shown its uses in the beautiful but deadly nature of predators. Just look at the angler fish that woos its victims with a pretty little sparkly bulb that dangles from its head over razor sharp teeth.

Now let's step back from defending Ms. Meyer and actually see what absolutely worked about the book and should invoke no argument to the contrary.

Millions of teenage girls (and women who remember their teenage years) refer to themselves as Twihards for only two reasons. One: they're in love with Edward. Two: they see themselves as Bella. Because of the latter, you can see why they would fall for former. With such a deep connection to Bella, they can't help but remember and see their own high school crush in that sparkly, tall, and handsome vampire.

And why shouldn't she love him? Should she be repulsed by his attentiveness and absolute obsession over her? Absolutely not. Despite what society may try to drill in us from very early ages, girls like the idea of a gorgeous hero, superior to them in might, swooping in out of the shadows to save them from some very dastardly men. And not to just stop there, but to have eyes for no other woman and to have a burning need to protect her at all costs.

And that's why teenage boys like the book. Because, again, despite what society tells us, men and women are different. Where women ultimately like the idea of finding security in a man they can count on, men like to be needed. And those traits of Edward's, not having been rejected by Bella as chauvinistic, but instead praised as something altogether desirable is something that boys need and desire to see.

Stephanie Meyer, despite anyone's arguments towards her writing abilities, captured human nature so perfectly so as to make each one of her characters real and someone we are sure we know personally. I say good job to her. And I'm very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

~Emily White


  1. I love your writing, and I sat here and read every bit of it. Your points are fantastic, you couldn't be more correct. Unfortunately I can't really comment because I haven't read the books but I can still agree!

    Bella is whiny but I am glad you mentioned that it meant Ms.Meyer did her job, and she did it well. Oh and I loved your view that of course Edward was perfect, I hadn't realized it was first person.

    I'll have to pick these books up, sounds like I might get addicted the same way I was to Harry Potter!

  2. I actually really liked the books as well and believe you argue the good points for them. Besides, you can't fault a writer whose books spawned such a craze and caused many kids to actually read for the FIRST TIME IN THEIR LIVES!

  3. Hahaha! Abigail, I love your passion. I actually knew about the whole shapeshifter thing, so don't worry, you didn't spoil anything.

    As for the fangs, though, I will have to say that you should look back at my vampire post during Monday's Myths. If I knew how to link it here, I would, so I'll just show the link. http://steppingintofantasy.blogspot.com/search/label/vampires

    The whole modern take on vampires is exactly that--modern. I'll agree that there isn't a reference to sparkly vampires, but eh, like I said, that was one area where I was slightly closer to the poo poo corner.

    I love your rant! You definitely made my day! :)

  4. Writing technique aside, no matter how much passion these books spark for other people, the characters themselves annoy me enough to not want to touch the books. Say what you want, if the characters make me want to gag, I ain't going there.


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