So here’s the deal people: I kinda hate Twilight. I tried to read it once, back in its heyday thinking, “Hey, this is super popular. It can’t be all bad.” But, oh was I wrong. The plot was banal and uninteresting, but even worse than that the prose limped along in uninspired fits and spurts that felt harsh and unnatural.
It was so difficult to stomach that after struggling through more than half of the book I gave up. Since then I’ve been an active participant on the Stephanie Meyers hate-wagon. I bash her writing as often as I can, I pick apart the bizarre threads of her plots, and I absolutely adore the Reasoning with Vampires website.
I am not a moron. There are some who may disagree on this point, but let’s ignore them, yes?
I know people who love Twilight. I mean really really love. When they read Twilight, it was the same experience for them as reading House of Leaves was for me. And there are millions of these people all over the world. Why?
We could be cynical and say that it’s all because of advertising dollars and irrational hype, but that doesn’t jive with me.
You may not know this, but I’m kind of a fan of P. T. Barnum. Everyone knows P. T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” But most people don’t know that he didn’t stop talking after he said that. One of the other things he said, in fact one of his core philosophies was this: “Do whatever crazy thing you have to do to advertise your stuff, but know this: if your product sucks all the advertising in the world won’t make it a success.” Okay, so he didn’t say it exactly that way, but you get the gist.
The people I know who love Twilight don’t love it because of advertising and they don’t love it because everyone else loves it. They love it because there’s something in there, amidst all the tangled prose and watered down plot that speaks to them on a very personal level.
When Stephanie Meyer talks about the inspiration for Twilight she tells the story of a dream that arrested her attention and inspired her to sit down and work on the story whenever she could grab a spare moment. In other words, the story meant something personal to her. It welled up from the very core of her being to the point that she could not stop herself from writing it.
That is what I believe has given the Twilight Saga the staying power it has enjoyed for so long. Of course there are problems with Meyer’s writing, but in spite of those problems millions of women have connected with that same tug of urgency Meyer felt when she first conceived the idea.
She wasn’t just writing a story. She was writing her story.
We could all learn a thing or two from her. We spend a lot of time trying to hone our craft and learn the intricacies of structure, but ultimately there is something greater than these things. If we’re going to write a story, we need to be sure it is a story we love. Because all the wonderful prose and perfect plotting in the world can’t replace what every story really needs: a soul.
Only when we give a little piece of ourselves dug from out of the deepest corner of our hearts will we be able to truly move and affect our readers.