TWILIGHT - thoughts?

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katya152
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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by katya152 » February 19th, 2010, 7:11 pm

I'm really pleased to see a conversation about what she did RIGHT, cause there's no denying that home girl hit the jack pot.

I don't think the writing is that bad. I pulled out my copy a few weeks back and read the first couple of pages--it's decent, adverbs aside. I can hear Bella's voice, even though I'd like her to shut up. Or at least talk about something else.

She created a teenage girl that other teens can identify with. She's insecure. She doesn't think she's beautiful. She's withdrawn and awkward. Regardless of weather or not she REALLY IS all of those things or, in fact, a "beautiful swan," she sees herself this way. And so many teen girls are battling insecurity and low self-esteem.

Not all, but many, teen (and adult) women fantasize about being the object of someone's obsession--especially someone like Edward. He's unattainable. Bella attains him against all odds. Boom. Fantasy fulfilled.

Fans obsess over Edward the way they've obsessed about Fitzwilliam Darcy for decades. Darcy's a jerk. He's insulting, rude, anti-social, elitist, arrogant--you know? And yet, um, he's hot. All that surliness is dead sexy. Because he loves Elizabeth for reasons even he doesn't understand. And every warm-blooded gal wants to be the One--that one woman that can break through the wall.

Yes, I know. I just compared Twilight to P&P. But I think it's one of the few novels in history that still outshines Twi in terms of popularity and its ability to establish a fantasty, world, characters, relationship, etc. that lasts long after the first read and makes us want to relive it over and over again. In college, I was invited to join on a group on Facebook (I know) entitled "Mr. Darcy is my Dream Man." Yes, really.

Can we learn from Stephanie Meyer? Sure. Can Meyer learn a thing or two from Austen? Heck yes. Like give readers a heroine they can identify with but also aspire to be: confident, motivated, and strong. If I ever have a daughter and she gets her paws on a copy of Twilight, I will tear it from her kung-fu grip and ground her until she reads Austen first...

miahayson
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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by miahayson » February 19th, 2010, 8:20 pm

maybegenius wrote: ..but people forget that these books are primarily aimed at the tween/young teen set, and that not every teenager is capable of reading at a Brave New World level ...
I am completely, 100 percent with you, on that. I hate it when people criticise the reading level of the books specifically, because it seems as if they don't fully understand that it was intentional, for the main part, and was deliberately made accessible for those not so well read.
Imicthell wrote:
She hit the literary sweet-tooth of readers with something that produced a frenzied craving, and I believe she did it quite by accident.
That's exactly what it is, "a sweet tooth". I mean, I'm going to have to fess' up and say that (although it took me over a year to gradually convert) I actually LIKE the Twilight Saga, which is why I think you've described it so succinctly. For me a sweet toothed experience, if you like, is great to begin with but becomes very sickly after a while. That's precisely how I now feel about the books... The success of them and their constant appearance in the media has turned the taste in my mouth, I now squirm at the mention of them.


Don't get me wrong, there's something innately and inescapably attractive about the stories to me.... So the answer to what makes them so ridiculously successful? All I can suggest is that personally, being just within the target audience, I succumbed to the devices precisely used to do just that, the ones employed to seduce me. Perhaps so many other people did too, because it certainly wasn’t for lack of awareness that I fell under its charm. That’s what made it worse, I think, being fully aware that I was being sucked in and still not being able to fault Meyer for it….So when I read the novels now, the distinct sensation that washes over me is seduction. I'm being carefully wooed by the soppy love story, which has elements of the classics in it.

I have to finish by saying that there is no denying she went right somewhere in the makings of this tale, although I have to agree with katya152 on what my *hypothetical* future daughter will be shown first. Austen all the way...

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Lorelei Armstrong
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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by Lorelei Armstrong » February 19th, 2010, 8:26 pm

A theory for the success of an equally good book:

"A lot of the people who read a bestselling novel, for example, do not read much other fiction. By contrast, the audience for an obscure novel is largely composed of people who read a lot. That means the least popular books are judged by people who have the highest standards, while the most popular are judged by people who literally do not know any better. An American who read just one book this year was disproportionately likely to have read ‘The Lost Symbol’, by Dan Brown. He almost certainly liked it."

—The Economist

HollyB
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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by HollyB » February 19th, 2010, 9:24 pm

I thought about this topic a lot after I finished The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Despite having two very different premises, they both have the following:
1) YA Heroine who is a bit of an outsider with a rough edge to her. No friends. Broken family.
2) Male protagonist who is ideal in her mind, but who she can only have if she literally dies
3) Second male protagonist who is attainable and is "the nice guy" but who she doesn't want
4) Fast-paced plots where the Heroine is constantly facing death

Like many people, I wasn't a big fan of the writing in Twilight and I would probably say the same thing about The Hunger Games series. But both authors are masters at keeping tension going which is why many of us gave up DAYS of sleep to read the damn things back to back.

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Kristan Hoffman
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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by Kristan Hoffman » February 19th, 2010, 10:07 pm

I'm going to have to defend Hunger Games and say I SERIOUSLY disagree with saying they are similar (at least not beyond a superficial level) as well as SERIOUSLY disagree about Collins's writing being at the same level as Meyer's.

I devoured the Twilight book in spite of all my doubts, my disinterest in vampires, and the amateur writing. I am in love with The Hunger Games because of the quality prose, the exciting and clever plot, and the well-rounded characters. I also appreciated how the romantic aspect of The Hunger Games took a backseat to the rest of the story. (Frankly Katniss just has way too much on her plate to bother obsessing about boys.)

In short: I've read bad Twilight wannabes (unfortunately) and The Hunger Games is not one of them.

// rant off

Sorry, haha, I just had to speak up in favor of THG. But at the end of the day, it's just one more opinion.

PaulWoodlin
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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by PaulWoodlin » February 19th, 2010, 10:10 pm

I think Twilight is popular because it did three things. First, it hit an underserved market. SF/F has, for some time, neglected the youth that made it so popular in the first place. This also explains the wild success of Harry Potter, despite many detractors of that series as well. A famous SF writer once said that the "Golden Age of SF is twelve." That's when you get new readers, not by impressing English professors and literary critics.

Second, and I say this only having read the first book, it had dangerous romance without pressure on the heroine to have sex. Lots of teen girls say they wish they felt under less pressure to have sex. Lots of romances written for adults are borderline soft core porn. Where are these girls to turn?

Third, it can appeal to a religious market without ever being overtly religious, sort of giving it the best of both worlds as it hovers in that gray area shared by the Narnia series.

Besides, in the name of research, I've read romance novelists like Jennifer Cruise and Nora Roberts. Meyer isn't actually any worse. I think people get ticked off by the series because the teen, Christian, and paranormal romance markets, all of which this can be marketed as, have different assumptions and ramifications and so someone already committed the genre tropes of any one of them might be annoyed. Plus, it's written for our daughters, and as a culture we're as obsessed with controlling the sexuality of our daughters as we are of expressing the sexuality of "adults."

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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by Leila » February 19th, 2010, 11:49 pm

Hi all

Upfront disclaimers: - I know my comments are a bit delayed (sorry, first chance to look at the forums for a while) and probably annoying. They are not meant to be.

I would like to understand a bit more about people's thinking on this issue. I can't quite wrap my head around calling the books 'craptastic' as some have indicated, yet admitting to reading either the whole series or parts thereof and being 'sucked in' to the vortex of the Twilight world.

I don't actually mean this as a criticism. I just can't separate out the 'hook' elements that drew people in, whilst identifying the 'repellents' that lead people to criticise in such a comprehensive way. If it was 'craptastic', why did you keep reading it then? Why didn't you put it down and say, 'this book is not for me.

It either doesn't:
a) hold my interest enough to keep reading
b) appeal to me on any level
c) have appealing/connectable characters
d) have an interesting plot
e) have an interesting start to hook me in
f) engage my sense of curiosity to persevere just that little bit longer
g) connect me to the movie enough, and I liked the movie better so.....
h) stir my interest in seeing what millions of other readers seem to find so fascinating
i - z) thousands of other reasons...

Is there a fundamental disconnect point between criticising something and yet still reading all four, long, meaty books (or again parts thereof)??

This is quite aside from the confessions of jealousy, etc. I get that bit and I know people are not saying Stephanie Meyer shouldn't have her success if she found a niche market.

Ok, so now I've confused you, what do you want to know again I hear you ask? That's fair. What I'm asking is:

a) If her writing is 'craptastic', why did people keep reading it then? Why didn't you put it down and say, 'this book is not for me.
b) How do you define 'craptastic' if you read all four books? or
c) Why label it 'craptastic' if you admit to being sucked into the vortex, taken along for the ride etc. Doesn't that mean the writer found a way to engage even the most hardened of those who read the books?

I would be very interested to hear people's views on this.

Thanks

lmitchell
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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by lmitchell » February 20th, 2010, 12:58 am

Leila wrote:Hi all

c) Why label it 'craptastic' if you admit to being sucked into the vortex, taken along for the ride etc. Doesn't that mean the writer found a way to engage even the most hardened of those who read the books?

I would be very interested to hear people's views on this.

Thanks

Excellent point and a very good question. I think from a literary purist point of view, the issue would be about how 'clean' the story reads, i.e. does it need a nip and tuck in plot development or because of abundant adverbs, repetitiveness, and so on? The final verdict lies with the reader and not the writer or the written word. Some readers cannot get beyond the technical problems they perceive and would tend to be folks categorizing with 'craptastic.' Then again, some readers develop a take-it-for-what-it-is attitude. (This would be where I fall as a reader.) They might notice an out of place adverb or a sappy phrase, but their main focus shifts to the emotional connection with the characters of the story and they are willingly swept along for the ride.

For me, Stephenie Meyer's technical skills are not what make her a wonderful writer--her story-telling skills are what made me fall in love with Bella, Edward, Jacob, and the whole glorious lot of them.

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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by casnow » February 20th, 2010, 3:51 am

I think the question we should be asking is how did Meyers hit the jackpot in spite of the writing?

It seems to be a consensus that many people don't think her writing is that great with respect to some literary classics. Yet, despite that, she's sold more copies than some truly great authors.

Don't we all wish we could bottle up the luck/magic she had!

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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by Yvonne Isaak-Andrews » February 20th, 2010, 4:02 am

My hypothesis for "Twilight's" popularity is that it replicates a core romance-fantasy that a large number of women share:

There exists a person whom almost everyone wants to be with (due to good looks, or power, or money, etc.), but he isn't interested in any of them. But there is something *so special* about you, something *so compelling,* that he absolutely can't help himself but to be compulsively drawn to you.

It's the I-really-am-*that*-special fantasy, and it strikes a strong cord with women of any age, but especially teenagers. From that core element, Meyer's then plays out her version of the fantasy. Whether or not the reader agrees or disagrees with Meyer's version of the rest of the fantasy, they at least hook onto that core element -- and most likely replay it in their mind with themselves in the heroine's place. It's not because of the vampire/werewolf elements -- that was merely the vehicle Meyer used to convey it.

A similar core fantasy is what made Spock/Vulcans such a hit item among women when Star Trek played. This version of the fantasy being: here is a character who is in absolute-complete control of his emotions, but there is something *so special* about you that he can't help himself but to passionately fall in love with you.

Men tend to have a similar fantasy, but dealing with sex instead. This is also why the concept of Vulcans were such a draw to men. Their fantasy tends to be: here is a Vulcan woman who is in such complete control of her emotions/sex drive that absolutely nothing and no one can break her of it -- but there is something *so irresistible* about you that she loses complete control, going so mad with sexual desire for you that she goes crazy, begging you to--

Well, you get the idea. Same fantasy, but whereas the women's version tends to be about romance, the men's tend to be about sex.

Using the "I'm so special that he can't help but be drawn to me" fantasy as the hook for the reader for the first book, Meyer then needed to create a mythos/universe to keep the readers interested past that first book. She happened to choose the vampire/werewolf mythos, but it really could have been anything.

We can then go on to discuss/debate writing styles, etc., but I believe this fantasy is what hooked in most of the female readers.

Yvonne

Yvonne Isaak-Andrews
(in support of author Christopher Andrews)
http://www.ChristopherAndrews.com

Mel Skinner
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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by Mel Skinner » February 20th, 2010, 5:33 am

HollyB wrote:I thought about this topic a lot after I finished The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Despite having two very different premises, they both have the following:
1) YA Heroine who is a bit of an outsider with a rough edge to her. No friends. Broken family.
2) Male protagonist who is ideal in her mind, but who she can only have if she literally dies
3) Second male protagonist who is attainable and is "the nice guy" but who she doesn't want
4) Fast-paced plots where the Heroine is constantly facing death
I just had to say you laid that out really well in four points. :)

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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by Leila » February 20th, 2010, 5:57 am

lmitchell wrote:
Leila wrote:Hi all

For me, Stephenie Meyer's technical skills are not what make her a wonderful writer--her story-telling skills are what made me fall in love with Bella, Edward, Jacob, and the whole glorious lot of them.

I agree that storytelling is really the core of good writing. It seems to me that the essence of any great story is the [b]story[/b] and the ability to weave readers in, around and through it so they temporarily leave their lives and enter the author's world.

Technical skill, knowing the craft etc are of course extremely important, but if you have a technically correct, perfectly composed novel that does not weave a tale so compelling, so page turning you can't put it down, then???

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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by Leila » February 20th, 2010, 6:02 am

Hi lmitchell

Whoops!! So sorry I completely mucked up using the 'quote as a reply' thing. I am clearly a novice at this so sorry. Didn't mean to make it look like I am commenting on my own comments when I was clearly trying to respond to yours!

I hope this makes sense?

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E McD
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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by E McD » February 20th, 2010, 9:33 am

Leila wrote:
Ok, so now I've confused you, what do you want to know again I hear you ask? That's fair. What I'm asking is:

a) If her writing is 'craptastic', why did people keep reading it then? Why didn't you put it down and say, 'this book is not for me.
b) How do you define 'craptastic' if you read all four books? or
c) Why label it 'craptastic' if you admit to being sucked into the vortex, taken along for the ride etc. Doesn't that mean the writer found a way to engage even the most hardened of those who read the books?
Leila,
Since I'm assuming I'm one of the people you're referencing...

As I mentioned in my very first post, I was roped in until the very last book. She broke the Suspension of Disbelief - went way out over the ledge in the last book. Without going into spoilers, that's all I can really say. BREAKING DAWN took it somewhere a lot of us just couldn't go (namely imprinting on children). In other words, I was invested in over 2,000 pages before I got the rug pulled out from under me. But I cannot, nor will I ever, deny that it was an incredible ride. The ending, however, was craptastic. I said nothing about the actual quality of her writing, which I agree with you plays second-hand to the ability to tell a riveting story.

Emily -xo
-Emily McDaniel

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maybegenius
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Re: TWILIGHT - thoughts?

Post by maybegenius » February 20th, 2010, 11:00 am

I'm another who really wasn't pulled in, at all, but I kept reading anyway. I didn't connect with the characters and I thought some of the plot lines were poorly executed. But, admittedly, I have never been a woman who was a big fan of the "perfect, One True Love" man. I didn't like them even as a teen. I always preferred the rough-around-the-edges, possibly poor, smartass sidekick character. Which is weird, because I actually didn't like Jacob, either, but maybe that's because he was also too "perfect" in that "I'll be your best friend, BUT I LOVE YOU, and I'm incredibly ripped and good-looking and will adore you unconditionally even after you stomp on my heart over and over" way. I don't like Mr. Darcy, either. LOL.

Anyway... I read the first three books and got a little way into the fourth before I gave up. I probably would have stopped reading after the first, but I'd already bought the second. Why did I keep reading, even though it wasn't my cup of tea? Primarily because they were so popular, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I was waiting to be converted, I guess. YA is the market I want to write for, so I like to keep up on what's being published and purchased in that market.
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