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.
“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.”
“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.