Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Twilight and New Moon: An Analysis of Style

By Darvell Hunt

Since I mentioned attending the movie Twilight with my wife, as well as my interest in reading the books by Stephanie Meyer, I suppose you knew the moment would come when I would tell you if I liked her writing or not. I mean, isn’t that what other writers are supposed to do? Tear apart more successful writers and tell everybody why we’re better?

Well, I’m not better than Stephanie Meyer. If I were, I’d be the famous millionaire cringing when other writers were tearing apart my writing with the same finesse as a gorilla hairdresser.

I have finished Twilight and am now working my way through New Moon. I think I’m qualified to begin commenting on her writing.

Do I like her style of writing? Not really. Do I like her storytelling? Absolutely yes. Do I think she should change her style of writing? No. Why not? Because it is working for her.

You don’t become a best-selling author unless people like to read your books. You also don’t get rich and famous from bookstores buying your books—you get rich and famous from readers buying your books. There are plenty of people out there buying and reading Stephanie Meyer’s books that might not buy those books if the style of her writing suddenly changed.

Does that mean that I think Stephanie Meyer has nothing to learn about writing? I’m going to have to say no here; she has a lot to learn about writing.

First of all, her annoying dialogue attribution tags need to go. I’m tired of hearing her character’s speech described as breathed, admitted, and spluttered. She needs to make friends with the word said. Such a friendly relationship would make many of us readers (and writers) so happy. She also needs to unlearn the use of adverbs. I wish there was a computer program that would BEEP loudly every time the Y key was pressed immediately after the L key. (That last sentence would have BEEPED twice—but her books would have sounded like a fleet of UPS trucks all backing up at the same time.)

So, what does she do right? Plenty. For the most part, her dialogue—aside from her apparent aversion to the word said—is wonderful. It sounds natural and I really believe it. Her characters—and thus her stories—come alive because of her dialogue.

She also knows how to tell a wonderful story—which is why I believe her books are selling so well. Her storytelling is fresh and exciting and I always want to know what is coming next. Does she know how to write? Well, duh! I don’t think there’s any question about that. Numbers don't lie.

I realize there is no way I will ever write like Stephanie Meyer. That’s not good or bad, it’s just the truth. Everybody forms language differently and it’s these differences that make us all interesting. I do, however, think that my writing can be as good as hers, but different in my own way.

As a writer, I know I do some things better than Stephanie Meyer, some things not as good, and yet other things just differently.

As a reader, I’m really enjoying reading her stories—and, as a reader, that’s all that matters, right?


Karlene said...

I like the way you said that. I am so tired of all the Stephenie Meyer bashing.

As a writer and editor, I cringe when I read her books. And yet, as a reader, I'm engrossed. Literary fiction, they ain't. But they weren't intended to be. They are fun sappy love stories with enough suspense and adventure thrown in to keep me from poking my eyes out with a fork.

Nichole Giles said...

I so agree, Darvell. I actually really enjoyed all of this series, but I am a huge romance fan,and love the story idea so...there you go.

Unfortunately, I have read all too many books that make me want to bang my head against the wall screaming, "Why? How and why did this ever get published?" I know writers are not the only people in the world who notice excessive use of adverbs and passive verbs. But somehow, they just keep coming...so, the authors must be doing something right, right?

Lucky for me, Stephenie Meyers books don't fall into that category, so I can actually enjoy them for what they are. Wonderful, imaginative love stories a girl can sigh over.

Jenn said...

I was talking to my husband about the Twilight books, and he said, "You need to write a book like Twilight, only different."

And this, my friends, is the 100 million dollar question: How do I do that? LOL.

I think one reason her books sell so well is because they're pretty fluffy and easy to read. The story is great and it keeps you turning the pages, but the book is written so simply, even the most un-learned Junior High student never needs to stop and figure out what something means. For me, I feel like that's a flaw in her writing style. But if she changed it, a lot of her fans would quit reading because they WANT a fluffily-written book with a great story.

I hope that made sense. :)

Darvell Hunt said...

Thanks, Karlene. Stephane Meyer is not Shakespeare, but I don't think she ever tried to be. Her writing is what it is and it works--at least for some. LOL.

Thanks for dropping by.

Darvell Hunt said...

Makes perfect sense, Jenn. She may have problems with her writing, but with 40 million copies, why mess with a good thing? She must be doing something right!