Monday, January 9, 2012

My personal relationship with Twilight

Photo by George Takai
I've been thinking a lot about Twilight lately.  

Everywhere I go, everything I read online, or see on TV has been treating Twilight like it's a butt of a joke. The worst book/ movie franchise ever. People have commented on it's writing, on the acting, ( which, full discloser, I agree is terrible.) on the anti-feminist themes, and the craziness/ pedophilia of the grown up fan women who lust after these characters.


Now I'm not saying Twilight is the best book ever, cause... It's not. But neither is it the worst. That quote by Stephen King...what is that... here, I'm looking it up...

“Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.” 

Some of the fans aren't helping.
This quote really emphasizes the hatred that is directed toward Twilight. Now I'm not saying Stephen King isn't correct in his assessment, but honestly, isn't that what Romeo and Juliet is all about? Or Phantom of the Opera, or Titanic, or the Odyssey, or Anna Karenina, or Le Miz, or...

Um... Dur?... 'Love conquers all' is the plot of a billion stories, and it's going to be the plot of a billion more. Twilight isn't original in that sense.

Which brings me to my next argument...Twilight is a copy. Yup... I've heard that one too. And it's true. There is an entire genre devoted to Vampire love.

 But then isn't any writing done inside a genre essentially copying?  One of my favorite quotes ever, is... "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." Albert Einstein. I think, as a writer, I can't say I haven't borrowed an idea, or a theme, or that something from my stories wasn't blatantly... inspired... by someone else's writing.

Yes, there are a million Edwards
 in literary history.
And that's a bad thing how?
 Can you?

 If we can't be blamed for our idea sharing, then how can we crucify Stephanie Meyer for the same thing. Stephanie Meyers as made a billion million bazillion dollars... those stories she's "copied" haven't been near as successful. Take from that what you will.

Twilight was Stephanie Meyers first novel. She wrote all 130,000 words in three months which is about Nano speed. Now, I've seen my nano Novel, and I've seen my first novel, and they... I'm speaking truthfully... are much worse that Twilight.  Some, not all, of the first novels I've read aren't as good as Twilight either. 

Now I'm not saying Twilight is good. "It's not," she hissed. 

I am saying it was good enough to be published.

I've often wondered what would have happened, if Stephanie Meyer had joined a writers workshop, or let other people outside her family read it before sending it in to be published. She would probably edit out all the annoying quirks that bug us writer type people. Maybe would be convinced that she was starting in the wrong place, or dwelling too much on descriptions... 

In truth, she probably would have made a better book. However, there's a huge chance that she would have edited out what made her story sell so dang well, or perhaps become so disillusioned with the whole process, she might have never sent the novel in to be published, and essentially rejected herself.

When we try to write the correct way, aren't we actually just writing the same way it's always been done? Publishers are always saying they want something original, and yet how many times have you been told not to do something because it doesn't follow the rules. What if following "the rules" is what is standing between you and a billion batrillion dollars.

My personal experience with Twilight

When I was in Junior High, I went to see Titanic four times in the movie theater. I couldn't drive yet, I didn't have a job, or a source of income, yet somehow I ended up going to see Titanic FOUR times. But by the time Titanic came to DVD, it had been so over-saturated, that I officially became embarrassed that I ever liked it. I never bought the DVD. I made fun of it, often with the same friends I went to see it with in the first place.

The same thing happened to me with Twilight. The first time I ever heard of Twilight, I was in a Costco, and my husband said we had enough money to go pick out a book. I bought Twilight because of the cover. I had never read another Vampire book, and honestly had negative associations with the whole genre. My husband had to convince me to buy the book. 

I read the book, and I liked it. In fact, I liked it a lot. I hadn't heard of any of the hype yet, but I still liked it. I bought the other books in the series, and The Host. I loaned them to my friends, and we all... Okay most of us... liked the books. 

I have in my closet a tee shirt that says Team Jacob. (I only wear it now on laundry days.) 

We had a Breaking Dawn Breakfast were we went to Walmart together to pick up the book.

I still openly mocked the movie. The movies, in my opinion, are laughable grossness, and examples of horrible acting. I never became a Twihard... although I do think that name is creative.

Somewhere around, let's say the second movie, I became embarrassed that I ever liked the book. Now, when I try to reread the book, I can only see it's faults. I can only see how it's critiques are correct.

I've become a fair-weather fan.

So now, before the world, and my writing friends, and the thousand Vampire Diary fans who've stopped by theprosers to say "Hi," I want to officially say something.

Stephanie Meyer, 

as you look down from you giant pile of money, please know, even as I mock you, you aren't as bad of a writer as I think you are. Your stories aren't as laughable as the internet thinks they are, and George Takai is only making a joke.

Oh yyeesss.

Now that's I've embarrassed myself by admitting my feelings toward Twilight, how about you? What did you think when you read it?


  1. I have never read them. In fact, I vowed to never read them. Why? Because of all the hype and,most importantly, they screwed up one of the Harry Potter movie releases. I'm not as adamnet about my severe disgust with them as I used to be. I'd probably read them now if it wasn't for the fact that I made such a big deal about NOT reading them. Oh well:)

  2. I'm 99% sure Stephenie Meyers did show her book to others, as Dave Farland reports that she attended some of his writing workshops. I think I've got that right (but I could be mis-remembering with a different author.)

    But honestly, she wrote a compelling STORY. Not one that everyone loves and not one that is a feminist epistle and not one that will make history for its prose, but an incredibly popular and compelling to read story.

    Most of the people I know who have read them have some story or another of ignoring the laundry/staying up way too late/missing an important appointment/being late to work because of Twilight. That kind of thing doesn't happen with every book.

    The thing I think the author does well and is why I like the books and recommend them to writers (because you should read what's being written and selling like hotcakes to understand the market) is that the author does a great job of making you FEEL 17/18 again. Feel that flush of first love that's completely irrational (though none of my young love escapades involved jumping off cliffs to hallucinate about my absent vampire boyfriend, of course...) She (Stephenie Meyers) also does a fantastic job with pacing. This is something a lot of writers don't quite get - they think you have to put the pedal to the metal the entire way through a book but that's not how it works for readers. They want you to take them to the brink, but then give them a little break, then edge the needle up again, then slow down to let a duck pass, etc.

    At any rate, I tend to agree, the stories are fine, they were fun to read. I'm pretty over them now, but I've kept my books because I want to go back and "see how she did that again" from time to time.

  3. I'm with you, Sheena. I tore through the series like the pages were laced with crack (though I seriously, SERIOUSLY hated the ending. but whatever). I don't know what it was, but I HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT. I think I actually skipped one of my classes because I needed just a little more time to read.

    However, when I tried to reread them a few months later, I couldn't do it. I couldn't force myself beyond the first chapter. Like the magic was gone. *shrugs*

    Now that I've gotten serious about my writing, I see the errors. It's hard not to. But I can say the same for most books. Nothing is perfect. And that's okay, too. Bottom line, Twilight was compelling. Why, well, I can't say.

    But I bought all four, so SM definitely wins.

  4. I read them and enjoyed them for what they were. It's not Shakespeare, but it's fun.

    I think the problem with Twilight is that it got so wildly popular within its intended audience that people outside its intended audience started reading it and didn't get it.

    I'm not saying that everyone who likes romance likes twilight or that all romance books are like Twilight (the romance genre is very diverse), but anyone who reads the genre widely knows that the criticisms of Twilight aren't unique to Twilight.

    I guess that is the price SM pays for being so popular.

    Psssst...Sheena, go team Jacob. :)

  5. I pretty much agree with what MaryAnn says above. The books became so popular they were read far beyond their intended audience. Also I think the more popular something gets the more mocked it gets. Anyway, I still enjoy the first book in the series. It has its flaws, but I can overlook them because it does enough stuff right. It's an excellent example of tension on every page, all 500+ of them.

  6. "Now I'm not saying Twilight is good. "It's not," she hissed."



    Okay, yeah, I think I had the same experience as you. Now I can't even read it without cringing, but that's only after I have learned all I have about writing in the several years it's been since I first read (and ... *loved*) Twilight.

    I wish people weren't so hard on Stephenie Meyer. She certainly knows how to write flawed characters that are just so easy to care about. Even when the guys sparkle like they have an entire Claire's Accessories worth of body glitter smeared all over them. Not sexy, imo. (And still I swooned)

  7. I tore through all 4 books in about a week. If that's not worth something, then I'll just have to disagree about the metrics we're using to measure quality :)

    The Stephen King quote is interesting, because there's some debate about its source. I was looking into this a while ago. The Snopes message boards had a link to another blog where it appeared, and that guy credited someone else:

    But while Stephen King did slam Stephanie Meyer's writing in an interview with USA Weekend (reported on here:, he also had some really insightful things to say about why it had so much appeal to teenage girls:

    "It's exciting and it's thrilling and it's not particularly threatening, because they're not overtly sexual. A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that's a shorthand for all the feelings that they're not ready to deal with yet."

    I think that's actually a lot deeper than the importance of having a boyfriend :)

    But I'm not a Harry Potter fan, I admit it. I physically can't sit through a movie, and I only made it halfway through the first book. Although I would gladly read the first book a million times over rather than the movie. Oy. Must learn to love what son loves. Must learn to love what son loves. Must learn....

  8. One more link - apparently someone out there is really, really passionate about this:

    Sigh. The Internet.

  9. Try reading Terry Pratchett's Carpe Jugulum. In that story is a young vampire who can read everybody's thoughts except the mind of this one young witch that's not very pretty but he sees something in her that he can't let go.

    Sounds familiar, ladies?

  10. Okay. I hate Twilight. I hate it with a fiery passion. But not because it's popular, or because it's a fad. I read the books (yes, all four of them) before the movies came out.

    I liked the first one okay. The initial romance was sweet, and it was indeed a quick read. But as the series continued, I became more and more frustrated with the characters and the relationships and the absurdity of it all.

    But it's also worth mentioning that I sort of kind of went through a vampire phase in high school (L.J. Smith, Buffy, Laurell K. Hamilton). So I got really used to all the storylines, and now I basically hate everything vampire with a fiery passion.

    With Twilight though, the characters and the relationships did bother me a lot. But that's a personal preference.

    Even Carpe Jugulum is not my favorite Terry Pratchett book... though it doesn't surprise me that Martin mentioned the resemblance, given that Carpe Jugulum is meant to be a satire of vampire tropes.

  11. (Also known as Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury, by the way.)

    I've been involved with writing for years and years. I've worked with writers, taught writing, had a few short stories professionally published, run a couple of online writing workshop forums for Orson Scott Card, and so on.

    I'm at the point where I can't just read very many books as a reader any more, because I know too much about writing. (And my comments in my reading group discussions tend to be more about structure and point of view, than they do about "what I liked about the book.")

    I'm also at the point where I very rarely find myself able to say "I just couldn't put it down." I can put almost all books down. Usually the best thing I can say about a book is that I was interested in getting back to it after I'd put it down.

    That said, when the STORY in a book engages me in spite of all of the above, so that I don't even notice the writing, then I call that a GOOD STORY. When I read a GOOD STORY, I don't even see the words--I'm totally INTO the story.

    So I'm with Karen Smith. Stephenie Meyer is a top-notch storyteller, and I think she has improved as a writer. I love her books. They WORKED for me. And I think the movies are fun. (And I say the same for the Harry Potter books and movies, for that matter.)

    Just one writer's opinion, for whatever it may be worth: A great story can make up for a multitude of writing sins.

  12. @Sabrina, I love vampires, but it's so funny that you mention your vampire phase because they are all so different to me:

    Twilight - not really about vampires IMO. About dangerous boyfriends, young love, and sparkle.

    LJ Smith - couldn't bring myself to read after the first book b/c it seemed comically bad to me, but love the show.

    Buffy - BRILLIANT writing. I can watch the series over and over and always find new places to smile. Barely qualifies as vampire fiction to me though because the Buffyverse is so... Whedonesque.

    Laurel K. Hamilton - have yet to successfully get through a book because she bores me to tears - and yet that may be the truest "vampire fiction" of them all, depending who you ask.

    So I say if you hate vampires, you just haven't read the right ones yet :)

  13. No one who can cause this many brilliant people to have such strong opinions could be doing everything wrong.

    Stephenie Meyer made me fall in love with the word 'smolder'. :)

    She also woke me up to romance, which I had been avoiding with a passion that rivaled Sabrina's. I'd been trying for years to start a book club at church, and the month we read Twilight ten times as many women as usual showed up. It was kind of funny.

    For better or worse, she changed young adult literature forever. The one thing I hate, though, is when people compare her writing to J.K. Rowling. No way. In my opinion, J.K. Rowling was truly a genius.

  14. I had the 'can't put it down' feeling when I first read it, even though I found a lot of the underlying themes very disturbing. I've often thought I should go back and figure out technically how she made it a page turner. But I can't get past the stalker boyfriend or/and especially the Jacob imprinting on a baby. Way way too creepy (okay, the whole last book was insanely creepy). And that's my opinion. She did something right, but I have serious issues w. some content.

  15. Sarah - those three weren't the least of it. I read just about every vampire book I could get my hands on back then (except Anne Rice, for some reason). Since then I've picked up various other vampire books, movies and tv shows (including Being Human). I've gone through purely evil vampires, purely nice vampires, vampires that are more like zombies, ugly vampires, pretty vampires, inhuman vampires (e.g. not made from humans), vampire shifter hybrids, vampires with pets, vampires with funny hats...

    I'm sure there are more twists out there yet to be discovered. They're just not for me.

    And yet I'm tremendously entertained by zombies, even though they seem to have less potential range than vampire stories. Who knows why I like the things I do.


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