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Twilight: Journey Into the Abyss (Part Four)

In this ongoing feature (*gulp*) I delve into the 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.

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.

Chapter Three

Notable Quote #1: “When I opened my eyes in the morning, something was different.”

Your entire personality? Please please please?

“It was the light.”

Rats.

Notable Quote #2: “I jumped up to look outside, and then groaned in horror.”

That sounds really awkward. Groan in horror? Is that like the sound a zombie makes?

“Grrrr, Bella want brains!”

Notable Quote #3: “…I found myself reveling in the aloneness instead of being lonely.”

Reveling in the aloneness… God, she is so freakin’ emo. I mean seriously. Not “enjoying the solitude”. Not “pleased by the extra time I was afforded to be by myself and ponder things”.

No, she “revels in the aloneness”.

Wow.

Snooze: If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to doze off for a few minutes while Bella obsesses over both Edward and her obsession over Edward for a couple of pages. Back in a few.

Notable Quote #4: “I wasn’t used to being taken care of, and Charlie’s unspoken concern caught me by surprise.”

Oh my ever-loving Lord, my father cares about me! Shock of shocks! Horror of horrors! Whatever strange, cruel fate shall befall me next?

Notable Quote #5: “ I was standing by the back corner of the truck, struggling to fight back the sudden wave of emotion the snow chains had brought on…”

You have no idea how long I laughed at that sentence.

I know, I know, I should be more empathetic. I knew a couple that divorced once over snow chains. Their kid was just never the same again. Any time he saw a chain the poor thing just burst into uncontrollable tears.

Fraught with trauma, those snow chains.

Thought: Is Mrs. Meyer ever going to learn how to actually display emotion, rather than simply stating that her character is having one? You know, like when Bella is having her emotional breakdown over snow chains, she has a “wave of emotion”.

How about actually demonstrating one of those emotions for us, huh? Getting us into the character’s head a little? Using a few of the five sense for a change?

No?

Oh, ok then. Have it your way.

Amazement: Wait, so Edward just leapt halfway across a parking lot in an instant, stopped a gorram car skidding across its icy surface, left a giant dent in the side of the thing, saved Bella’s life in the process, and still no one notices that anything is slightly odd about him?

Get on with it already, woman! We’re three chapters into the book and you’re still dancing around the truth like it’s some kind of great secret. It’s printed on the back of the damn cover. Seriously, look:

“About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire.”

See? The marketing people can do it in two sentences. What on Earth is taking you so long? Would it be too much to ask just to set the damn story in motion already?

And how stupid are these small-town, inbred freaks not to have noticed that something is up by now?

Sheesh.

Notable Quote #6: “He unleashed the full, devastating power of his eyes on me, as if trying to communicate something crucial.”

First of all: gag.

Secondly, he is trying to communicate something crucial. Namely, he’s not some super-strong vampiric freak with shiny skin, terrific reflexes, and immortal life, and you’re an idiot for suspecting that and stop asking questions and believe what I say instead of your own eyes you silly tart.

Notable Quote #7: “‘Trust me,’ he pleaded, his soft voice overwhelming.”

Again: gag.

You know, coming up with some new metaphors probably wouldn’t kill you. Hell, at least reuse some better ones than that.

Notable Quote #8: “It took six EMTs and two teachers — Mr. Varner and Coach Clapp…”

*snicker*

Notable Quote #9: “ I tried to think of a logical solution that could explain what I had just seen — a solution that excluded the assumption that I was insane.”

But why exclude that which is so obvious?

Notable Quote #10: “No matter how many times I tried to convince him [Tyler, driver of the skidding truck Edward saved her from] I was fine, he continued to torment himself.”

Well, he did kind of almost crush you to death in horribly violent, painful way. I think I can forgive him a little self-torment for that one. If Mr. Perfect McDreamboat hadn’t been there to save you, you’d be little more than a grease stain on the parking lot.

Creeped Out: So Edward’s father just entered the picture, and the description Bella gives of him sounds like an introduction from a bad romance novel straight out of Freud’s worst nightmare. I don’t care how good-looking the man is, you shouldn’t make your young, teenage protagonist describe her love interest’s father in quite so appealing a fashion.

It’s a tad creepy.

Confused: Bella has spent a couple of pages now repeating at every possible opportunity that she is, in fact, “fine” after her close call in the parking lot and refusing help from every direction.

Now I know she’s supposed to be all independent and emo and loner, but she’s clearly showing signs of the possibility of a concussion. What’s really so bad about accepting the tiniest bit of help when you might have just received a brain bruise?

She’s told everyone she’s met fifty gazillion times she’s fine and almost fell on her ass due to dizziness trying to walk out of the hospital room. Is this really a great example to be setting?

“No doctor, I’m perfectly fine. I know it may look like I’m bleeding profusely out of my left eye socket, but I’m just fine. Really. Fine. Absolutely. I SAID DON’T HELP ME YOU RUDDY LITTLE BASTARD, I’M TRYING TO BE EMO HERE!”

Notable Quote #11: “His eyes were cold.”

Ew, you touched his eyes? Gross.

That’s not very polite you know. That feels extremely uncomfortable. Have you ever had someone get all touchy-feely on your eyes?

It’s not a pleasant sensation. Have a little respect for others.

???: “It was like trying to stare down a destroying angel.”

What the fuck?

Notable Quote #12: “‘Why did you even bother?’ I asked frigidly.”

Unnecessary adverbs are fun!

Desperate plea: Please, please stop describing Edward’s face. Please stop telling me how many contradicting adjectives it is and how many conflicting emotions it then makes you describe to me.

I get it. You like his face. Can you stop attaching adjectives to it now?

Please?

Realization: Bella has been angry a number of times in this chapter, yet I see no inexplicable tears streaming down her face as I was promised a chapter or two ago.

I was looking forward to this particular neuroticism of Bella’s, yet I am now being denied this pleasure.

I’m just looking for a little consistency here. I was promised tears with every outburst of anger, and I’m not getting them. I feel cheated.

Don’t tell me you just came up with that character trait on a whim because it was convenient for the current scene and are not planning on seeing it through, Mrs. Meyer. Surely you wouldn’t pull a trick like that.

Notable Quote #13: “I was consumed by the mystery Edward presented. And more than a little obsessed by Edward himself.”

No kidding, really? I hadn’t noticed.

Maybe you should harp on that fact a little more. You know, make it more obvious in case your masterful subtlety up to this point might have escaped someone’s attention.

Don’t want anyone to miss out.

Farewell: I continue to be amazed by how much of this book has gone by without anything actually happening. It’s kind of remarkable, in a sad sort of way. As I stated in my last farewell, I’m not truly looking forward to the start of the story proper, but at the same time I cling to the faint hope that perhaps once things get going I’ll see fewer awkward paragraphs spent describing Edward’s face.

I think I must also prepare myself for the possibility that, for this book, this may be as “going” as the story gets. I do not yet think I am mentally prepared to accept this as the truth, for fear I may break down in (angry?) tears and lose my will to continue with this project. For now, for my own mental health, I will continue to pretend that there is a possibility things might eventually pick up and get better.


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Twilight: Journey Into the Abyss (Part Three)

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.

Chapter Two

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.

Dialog!

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.

Simple enough?

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.”

*Barf*

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.


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Twilight: Journey Into the Abyss (Part Two)

In this ongoing feature (*gulp*) I will be delving into the much-dreaded world of Twilight. That is to say, 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 is 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.

Chapter One

Beginning Thoughts: As I began my journey deeper into the book proper, it lulled me at first into a false sense of security. Sure it was kind of like reading an almanac, with its continuous listing of seemingly pointless facts, but it was tolerable. Much like, well, reading an almanac.

The never-ending string of the main character’s likes and dislikes was a little less pleasant. I don’t even know the character’s name yet, but I do know her favorite shirt, that she hates some small, rainy, shithole of a town, that she loves Phoenix instead (and all the horrible, sweltering, heat-related crap that goes with it), and that apparently she’s a city girl.

Um, sorry, I hate to barge into your fascinating rambling list of random tidbits here, but you seem to have neglected to tell me your main character’s name.

Ah, thanks awkwardly inserted name in a sentence of dialog where a normal person wouldn’t have said a name in their dialog. Bella, eh? Fine, fine.

Note: You’ll have to forgive me, by the way, if some of what follows seems a little stream-of-consciousness. It is often hard to fully collect my many scattered thoughts on this dreadful experience into a cohesive hole. I shall do my best to make it readable.

Bella Problems: As soon as I realized that the book was told from a first-person viewpoint (which was, in fact, the first word: “my”), I realized that this daunting task was going to be perhaps even worse than I thought.

After reading yet further, my fears were confirmed. Bella’s head is one that I most definitely do not want to be inside of.

Puzzlement: Can you undertake an action “with great horror”? Stephanie Meyer seems to think so, but I must admit that I somewhat question her judgement on this sort of thing.

Thought #1: Apparently Bella’s poor mother is some sort of helpless lunatic who is taken care of by her daughter. That’s good to know. Got some good parents, this Bella gal. Came from good stock. Proper, healthy upbringing, I’m sure. Not going to produce any weird neuroticism or character traits at all, no sir.

Notable Quote #1: I have now come across a sentence that is awkward in so many ways it’s almost hard to know where to begin: “But I could see the sacrifice in her eyes behind the promise.”

I’m sorry, I won’t relent on this one. Sacrifice is not something that is visible through a human eyeball. Anger, sure. Sadness, yes. Happiness, fine. Sacrifice is not one of these simple emotions that can be seen through the eyes. In fact, unless I’m mistaken, sacrifice is not actually an emotion at all, and therefore can’t be displayed on a face.

Can’t you see the sacrifice on my face right now?

Nope. Tried it myself now. Doesn’t work. Not an emotion.

On top of that, this non-emotion is apparently hidden behind a promise, which I suppose is also stuffed in that inhumanly expressive eyeball somehow. Or so this horribly written sentence would lead us to believe. This is false, lazy writing at its finest. And it’s only the first page of the first chapter. Goodness gracious this is going to be a long trip.

Notable Quote #2: “That would explain why I didn’t remember him. I do a good job of blocking painful, unnecessary things from my memory.”

Dear Bella,

I would like to argue the above point based on the vast array of needless crap you have just dumped upon me, the poor reader, from your own first person viewpoint in an alarmingly short number of pages. You might wish to begin rethinking your self-perception in this regard.

Thought #2: Wait, the rocking chair “from [her] baby days” is still in her room? The one she lived in growing up? That can’t be healthy. And you have to love how she refers to her infancy as “my baby days”. Like it was some phase she passed through.

Yeah, I tried out the baby thing. Worked for a while, but I got a little sick of it. It was just so last week, you know?

She’s Got Issues: She plans out her crying sessions, apparently. Yup, Bella’s a weird one all right.

Egotist Protagonist: For the love of Pete, stop talking bout yourself already! There are six full paragraphs of describing and philosophizing about herself and her oh-so-unique teenager-y problems here. Get over yourself, babe.

*Sigh*: Oh, she’s claustrophobic too? Great. Just great. Keep it coming, Steph, you’re character’s not quite enough of a basket case yet. What else ya got?

Notable Quote #3: “Charlie left first, off to the police station that was his wife and family.”

I think I know what she’s trying to say here, but could she really not think of any better way to say it? This makes it sound like some sort of obsessive sexual fetish, not simply a guy who works too much.

Thought #3: What Meyer has neglected to give me here, amongst her heaping helpings of vagaries and piles of descriptions that don’t actually seem to describe much in particular, is a reason to care about her character. Aside from the fact that she seems to be a mentally screwed up weirdo from a broken home, I don’t know why Bella is of interest. Where is the conflict? Where is the story goal? Where is the plot going? My only hints are a few mysterious clues so forced and pointless it’s laughable.

Some weird girl from Phoenix moved to a cold place she hates for some reason even though she didn’t want to. Woo. Get to the point.

Notable Quote #4: “I can do this, I lied to myself feebly. No one was going to bite me.”

Oh ha ha. Very funny.

Notable Quote #5: “My plain black jacket didn’t stand out, I noticed with relief.”

Why would a plain jacket ever stand out? Isn’t that the point of wearing something plain? Not to stand out? You’d think the thing that would stand out here would be, you know, her. The one person in the small school everyone knows is new and should be staring at like some sort of state fair sideshow attraction but are apparently not noticing for some reason, which kind of goes against all the details of the place that have been laid out so far. Way to go with the consistency there, Steph.

Notable Quote #6: “[Bella’s new teacher] gawked at me when he saw my name — not an encouraging response — and of course I flushed tomato red.”

Um, ew. Unless Mr. Mason here happens to be in a federal database of some sort, this is not a reaction that a teacher of children should have.

Contemplating Bella: I can feel myself slowly growing to despise Bella. My casual indifference is slowly turning into something far more sinister. Call me crazy, but I find something unappealing about the way she seems to consider herself a paragon of perfection next to the inbred hillbilly freaks that are, of all the terrible sins to have to suffer, trying to politely introduce themselves to her and make her feel at home in her new town. The concepts of hospitality and friendliness seem to be totally lost on this poor girl.

It all goes further to prove my belief that her loneliness is completely self-inflicted. Why should I feel sorry for this poor creature, scheduling sadness sessions in her day planner in some pathetic attempt to induce sympathy, when she won’t so much as try to make connections with other human beings?

Thought #4: I have reason to believe that Edward is a sexually frustrated weirdo due to the whole “vampire” thing, but I see no logical reason why he should act actively angry at Bella when he first meets her. What kind of stalker-wannabe acts like that? This reeks of an author trying too hard to be deceptive.

Angry Bella: Oh great, she cries when she’s angry too. Doesn’t get enough of the good ol’ tears in her scheduled sessions, apparently.

Actual legitimate question: Does anybody actually respond to anger by crying? Is this a real human response? I’ve certainly never heard of anything like it before, but I’m no expert. Still seems odd to me.

Thought #5: The gym teacher’s name is Coach Clapp? That’s both horribly inappropriate and terrifically entertaining.

Notable Quote #7: “[Edward] was so mean. It wasn’t fair.”

You’re a stuck up, antisocial bitch. Get over it.

Farewell: Until next time, dear readers. Wish me luck. It’s not getting any easier from here….


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