In this ongoing feature (*gulp*) I will be delving into the much-dreaded world of Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer, a work that is dreaded by serious writers the world over. I fear what terrible horrors, what mutilations of the English language, what unbelievably poor excuses for story construction await me.
In all seriousness, as an aspiring writer myself, I thought it was time that, for better or (more likely) worse I saw what all the damn fuss is about. What follows are my thoughts, my color commentary if you will, on the book as I go along.
So, Stephanie Meyer, give me your best shot. I’m all yours.
Notable Quote #1: “The next day was better… and worse.”
She sure has a way with amazingly helpful descriptive passages, doesn’t she?
Let’s first just ignore the fact that’s it’s impossible for a day to be both better and worse at the same time and that’s an incredibly awkward way of phrasing this thought.
Boy, I sure hope there’s a poorly written mini-essay in the next two paragraphs explaining the myriad of reasons why the day was both good or bad in monotonous list form.
Once again, she does not disappoint.
Thought #1: It occurs to me that I may have to be somewhat more lenient with Mrs. Meyer regarding her frequently awkward phrasing. The remarkable consistency of her language butchering means that if I continue to harp on it this much it’s going to dominate my thoughts on the book as I go along and make it that much harder to finish the thing.
As hard as it may be, I just might have to let some of it go. The last thing I need is to make this read any harder than it already is.
Awkward Simile: “But I knew myself too well to think I would really have the guts to [confront Edward]. I made the Cowardly Lion look like the terminator.”
Coming soon to a theater near you: The Cowardly Terminator.
He’ll be back. And then he’ll run away again.
Notable Quote #2: “But I couldn’t get rid of the nagging suspicion that I was the reason [Edward] wasn’t [at school]. It was ridiculous, and egotistical, to think that I could affect anyone that strongly.”
Oh, don’t be so quick to write yourself off, dearest Bella. As far as I’m concerned, you are repulsive to a rather incredible degree.
You don’t have to thank me for the compliment. It’s the honest truth. I’d like nothing more than to run away and never have anything more to do with you. I wouldn’t blame poor Edward for feeling the same.
Thought #2: In a story, it is usually considered good form not to include much action or dialog that doesn’t directly affect the plot of the story. Stephanie Meyer doesn’t seem to pay much heed to this advice. There are all kinds of unnecessary details stuffed in here that serve no other purpose than to slow things down.
Thought #3: Oh holy hell, now I’m reading along, line by laborious line, as she writes an email to her mother; one that conveniently recaps some of the boring, needless details she’s been throwing at me recently no less. Please make the hurting stop. Please.
Well, there is one new detail in the email. I now know that her mom’s missing pink blouse is at the dry cleaner’s.
That’s just bound to be a vital plot element. I can feel it. From now until the end of the book, I’m sure that in every scene I’ll be thinking, “What emotion, what drama, what intrigue could the pink blouse add to this scene?”
Notable Quote #3: “I guess he considered me old enough now not to shoot myself [with her father’s gun – her father being a cop and all] by accident, and not depressed enough to shoot myself on purpose.”
Aw, but why not? Come on, it’d be fun! Everybody’s doing it.
Surprise: There was actually a small bit of not-abhorrent dialog between Bella and her father here. I wouldn’t call it amazing, but even average is a cut above what I’ve seen so far. There might have even been a tiny hint of character.
Of course, she’s still trying to be all sneaky and tippy-toeing around the fact that the group of outsiders at school are vampires and I kind of wish she’d just get on with it already, but if needlessly avoiding the point gives me my first glimpse of tolerable dialog I’ll take what I can get.
List: List, list, list.
Thought thought. Description. Emotion thought. Description. Emotion thought thought. List.
Emotion thought brood brood complain bitch thought.
Repeat for ten pages and simmer over a light boil to make one fresh, steaming chapter of Twilight. Enjoy while hot, lest it quickly become tepid and stale.
Sudden realization: It didn’t hit me until just now, but I finally realized one of the major things missing in Meyers’s writing: the five senses. I know my writing professors tried to hammer home how important they were, but I didn’t realize quite how much this was true until I read the first two chapters of a book almost completely devoid of anything but sight. It’s hardly the only thing wrong with the style here (as I hope I’m beginning to make clear), but boy does it ever make this world feel a lot more lifeless than it should.
Exasperation: Is she seriously still keeping up this charade of Bella pretending to not like Edward or being afraid of him or whatever the hell these mixed signals she’s sending are supposed to mean? We’re not fooled, you know. How stupid do you think your readers are?
Well, they did willingly purchase your writing I guess. Touche Mrs. Meyers. Touche.
You may continue. You might yet be craftier than I gave you credit for.
Thought #4: Have you ever had to sit and listen while someone enthusiastically described the plot of an awesome movie to you? One that you had never seen before but perhaps had some interest in? At least, before your stupid friend rambled away any interest you had in the movie through his boring recounting of scenes that might have actually been interesting if you had seen them instead of having them told to you?
Yeah, well Bella is that friend. Only she’s not very enthusiastic. And the movie she’s telling me about sucks. And she’s not my friend.
Notable Quote #4: “But his [Edward’s] eyes were careful.”
Here she goes with her awkward eyes again. Haven’t we been over this one before?
I hope this doesn’t become a trend. Strike that. Yes I do.
Apparently you’re still missing the point. Eyes can display emotions. I’ll give you that. Careful is not an emotion. Thus, eyes cannot display it.
I humbly suggest that you try giving your humans an emotion or two for a change instead of their individual body parts. Take it for a test run. See how it turns out.
Notable Quote #5: Bella [to Edward]:“‘H-how do you know my name?’ I stammered.”
“[Edward] laughed a soft, enchanting laugh.“
Bella, I know we might not have gotten along spectacularly well so far, but just trust me on this one: you don’t want to know.
Run away, Bella. Very fast.
Notable Quote #6: “His fingers were ice-cold, like he’d been holding them in a snowdrift before class. But that wasn’t why I jerked my hand away so quickly. When he touched me, it stung my hand as if an electric current had passed through us.”
Thought: So apparently whenever Edward is nervous he clenches his hands tightly into balled fists. Again I am forced to ask: does anybody do this? What kind of bizarre freak show did she get her character tags from? None of them make any damn sense.
Notable Quote #7: “I couldn’t fathom his interest, but he continued to stare at me with penetrating eyes, as if my dull life’s story was somehow vitally important.”
Damn it all, now Edward’s encouraging her.
Trust me buddy, you don’t want to do that. This lady can blather on uselessly like you wouldn’t believe. You’d best learn how to cut her off early while you still can.
Besides, you seem to know everything she’s going to say before she says it anyway, so how’s about we drop the mind games and stop making her uselessly repeat it.
Notable Quote #8: Edward: “But I’d be willing to bet that you’re suffering more than you let anyone see.”
I’d make some crack here about how this describes my situation almost perfectly, only I happen to think I’m being rather upfront about my intense suffering.
Notable Quote #9: “That’s when I noticed the still, white figure. Edward Cullen was leaning against the front door of the Volvo, three cars down from me, and staring intently in my direction. … I stared straight ahead as I passed the Volvo, but from a peripheral peek, I would swear I saw him laughing.”
Yup. Edward’s a creepazoid. No doubt about it.
I’m no expert on what young women find attractive, but somehow I just fail to see the appeal of a guy who glares at you, balls his fists under the table when talking to you, runs away from you, glares at you some more, pretends to be interested in you for a bit, stares intently at you, and then laughs at you just for good measure.
I guess multiple personality disorder is hot these days.
Farewell: I fear the story may be inching closer to actually getting started. I’m rather amazed it’s gone this long without doing so, frankly, but I am both enthused and terrified by the prospect of getting into the story proper.
At least it surely can’t be any worse than this.