Don’t Write the Words. Live them.

BTW - Real Vampires Don't Sparkle!

Why are the Twilight books so popular?  I can speculate, and I will since this is my blog. I have never read the books.  I tried.  I bought the first one and couldn’t get past page 100.  I am making no judgment on Stephenie Meyer.  I’ve lived long enough to know that tastes vary, and I’m not always going to agree with the majority.  It is what it is.  Just because I don’t care for her style or the books doesn’t mean they are bad.

I have several adult friends who are in love with the Twilight series, and they know I am not a fan.  They’ve tried to convince me that I should read them because I write young adult fiction.  But reading a popular book to try and emulate it is a pointless endeavor.  I’ll explain why in a bit, but let’s get back to my adult friends who read the Twilight books.   When I ask them what they like about the novels, the most common response I get is “I don’t know.”

“The writing?” I ask.

“No, the writing isn’t really that great,” they answer.

“The story?”

“Not really.  It’s been done before.  Awkward girl falls in love with the bad boy.  Bad boy has a heart of gold.  Awkward girl gets in trouble.  Bad boy comes to the rescue. Awkward girl demonstrates a surprisingly strong side.  Bad boy demonstrates a surprisingly tender side.  It’s kind of like Grease, but with vampires.”

“The characters?”

“No, they’re pretty thin and clichéd.”

“There has to be something about the book you like.  What is it?”

“They’re just fun to read.”

And that brings me to why one author can’t effectively copy another author’s success just by writing the same type of book.  You have to enjoy what you write in order for someone to enjoy what you read.  I can’t explain it or prove it, but there is a magical element that occurs when writing from a place of utter absorption… from a place where you’re no longer self-aware.  You are simply enjoying the experience of telling the story.  That can’t be faked.  It has to be genuine.

Those of us who write in the English language are all using the same basic set of words and rules.   Sometimes we’re even placing the words in the same order on the page.  So, writing well has to be more than using the language in a clever manner.  Writing well isn’t about writing at all.  As corny as it sounds, it’s about living the words on the page as you write them.  It is a wholly metaphysical event.

So, maybe that does explain why the Twilight books are so popular.  Maybe it’s because Stephenie Meyer didn’t write them at all.  She lived the words.

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Defending Stephanie Meyer

Give a Girl a Break!

Give a Girl a Break!

Apparently a large number of Stephanie Meyer fans are not happy about her latest installment in the Twilight series. They are so incensed that they are returning the books in droves. Whether it’s small droves or big droves remains to be seen. But the fact is there are unhappy campers in the Twilight world. And their plight and decided mode of protest bring up a couple of interesting points.

1. Does the author have more of an obligation to the characters he or she creates or the readers that purchase his or her book(s)? Meyer did what she felt as the creator of the series was best for the story. Most readers agreed with her it seems until the 4th book. Are fans more than interested spectators? Do they have a right to demand that an author write the book as they see fit? This is where the world of art and commerce collide. Sometimes the artist isn’t always going to do the popular thing. Does that make him or her wrong? I have to side with Stephanie Meyer on this one. She is at the helm. It’s her book that she publishes through Little, Brown. Together, they made the decision this was the way to go with the story.

2. When is a book returnable? I’m all for returning a product that is defective. But what constitutes a defective book? Does bad writing and a bad story really qualify as being defective? If you read a book from beginning to end, hasn’t the product fulfilled its purpose? Does not enjoying a book really allow the customer to return the book with a clear conscience? I’ve eaten in restaurants in which I didn’t enjoy the meal, but I’ve never refused to pay the bill because I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m an author with books on the market, but I’m kind of bothered by this trend. It doesn’t seem appropriate to me to read a book and then return it. It’s like buying an expensive shirt, wearing it out on the town and then returning it the next day because of buyer’s remorse. Not a fan.

I’m may be totally off base here. Tell me I’m crazy. What do you think? You can visit this discussion group on Amazon to see what all the disgruntled Twilight fans are saying: Unhappy with Breaking Dawn? Don’t burn it–RETURN it!

BTW – I haven’t read Breaking Dawn so I’m not passing judgment on Ms. Meyer’s writing. I’m merely passing along what I’ve read in various articles and discussion groups.

Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight – The Movie Trailer

Get ready for the next Young Adult book-to-movie phenomenon.  Stephanie Meyer created a runaway hit with her Twilight books, and that bodes well for the rest of us who write YA fiction.  She’s making the publishing companies fat, rich, and happy.  That means they will be looking for more material to grow fatter, richer, and happier on.  Thank you Stephanie Meyer!