The Shocking Truth About Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” #amreading #books #Twilight
The Twilight Saga took the reading world by storm, igniting passion in millions of readers across the world. Sometimes I wonder what those early reviews used to look like, before the book became so popular. I imagine a lot of people had good things to say about it, and that led to a lot more people buying their own copy. Soon after that, I’m sure, people started buying it to see what the big deal was. I admit, I had no idea about any of it until my kids’ babysitter handed the books off to me.
Then, as I was work-shopping my own book in various online writer groups, I came across many discussions on the book. And just about every writer I came across there (and since then!) HATED Twilight. The complaints varied from how terribly written it was to how unhealthy the characters’ relationships were, and so on. Heck, even most book blogs I stumble across these days have a plethora of negative things to say about the series. I’ve even seem some people insult the intelligence of others because they did like the books, though that seems par for the course in the book world these days.
And yet, the book has sold millions. So why is that? And why do so many people hate her books?
Why Twilight is Popular Even Though Many Writers and Book Bloggers HATE the Series
Here is what Twilight has to offer:
1) Two people who are desperately in love but would have to make great sacrifices in order to be together.
2) A lead female role (Bella Swan) that is (mostly) a blank canvas, meaning that any reader can “step into her shoes” so that THEY become Bella and get to have her experiences, which they want to have because . . .
3) the lead male, Edward Cullins, is mysterious, strong, sensitive, more-experienced, and sexy (though this is subjective).
4) vampires (yes, millions of people still love vampires).
Why Writers HATE Twilight
1) The writing. Many writers say the writing isn’t good enough. Theirs is of course better, so how come Twilight is selling millions when they can’t even land an agent?
What they might be missing: Everyday readers who aren’t writers and don’t study the craft of writing don’t know the writing is “bad” (this is also subjective). They also don’t want to know and don’t care. They just want to enjoy a good story. The story is also written in 1st person from a teenager’s point of view. Should Bella tell her story like William Buckley?
2) It’s popular. Maybe not all writers hate books because they are popular, but from what I’ve noticed, as soon as a book becomes popular, authors who haven’t YET had the same success seem to hate the book. I’m not saying that is necessarily why they hate it, but it IS possible that jealousy is a factor, even if only subconsciously. I imagine it’s also frustrating that books are becoming bestsellers that break all the writing “rules” while they follow the rules and can’t find a publisher.
What they might be missing: Even if a writer isn’t jealous, I suggest they look at why people DO love the book instead of why they SHOULDN’T. If a writer consistently hates bestsellers, they may be out of touch with the general reading audience, or they may just have non-mainstream tastes, which is perfectly fine: they just need to be aware if they have niche tastes and are writing for a niche audience, as that will help them publish and market their novel.
3) Vampires. It must be annoying for those who write other genres to see vampire fiction continuing to do well year after year. We keep seeing writers and bloggers saying “vampires are out” but there are still millions of readers looking for the next vampire fiction read!
What they might be missing: It might be a good idea to look at WHY people love vampire fiction. Is there anything about vampire fiction that might also make other books without vampires really addicting? Is it the idea of immortality, is it feeling safe from death or threatened by it? Is it forbidden romance or is it haunting affairs? What do vampires subconsciously symbolize to the average reader? Or is it just plain fun to read about them? This is what writers should ask themselves when they are baffled that vampire fiction is still selling.
Why Bloggers HATE Twilight
I’d say most writers don’t like Twilight and the same goes for the majority of bloggers (even though most readers seem to love it!). Will anyone ever all love on book? No. But when a book is as popular as Twilight, a lot of people will read it to see what the hype is about. This is why we see things like people saying they don’t like the book because Bella is 17 and Edward is centuries old. Well, that’s how most vampire romance novels are. If someone doesn’t like that, I have to wonder why they are reading a vampire romance! Often people read books they wouldn’t normally because they are popular. Also, a lot of bloggers are ALSO aspiring writers, so many of them view books with the “writer’s lens” instead of the readers lens. Their review and rating show that they know what writing is supposed to be. That’s why, IMO, there is such a difference between the opinion of readers and the opinion of bloggers and writers when it comes to this book.
We all know that Stephenie Meyer isn’t Faulkner, but she’s one hell of a storyteller, and that is why Millions of people love her books. Truth is, a great story is worth more these days than great writing. Writers and bloggers may disagree (and I don’t blame them; I, too, put a lot of work into my prose) but the truth remains that there are more READERS than writers and bloggers in this world, and READERS just want an amazing story to get lost in.
I’m not saying writers shouldn’t strive to write the best they can. But they can expect that if THEIR book becomes a hit, there will be a ton of other authors and bloggers saying it’s NOT well-written. Many of us writers can’t help but think of how WE would tell the story or how WE would craft a sentence. That doesn’t mean Stephenie Meyer (or any other writer) did it in the worst way possible. It just means they did it differently from how we would do it.
Besides, who is going to argue that Twilight is the WORST written book on the planet? I certainly won’t. Unlike many of my colleagues in the writing field, I found that Twilight was an engaging read. I understand the reasons some people didn’t like it, and I also understand that some people didn’t like it for the wrong reasons. But one thing I think we can all agree on, is that Meyer did a great job of engaging a VERY large audience. Kudos to her success.
Rebecca Hamilton is a USA Today bestselling Paranormal Fantasy author. Her bestselling Forever Girl Series is available at online retailers and has been optioned for film with Witten Pictures. The Hungarian edition has been published with IPC books and the German edition has been published with Darkiss, a Harlequin imprint.