Scandalous: 8 Reasons Intelligent Writers Must Read Twilight

Ready your pitchforks: I'm about to make an unironic defense of the Twilight series, and even argue that you---or any other intelligent writer---should read it. Here are eight reasons you should spend time with these famously terrible books.

1. Twilight sells

"Sometimes [...] defenders of what they call 'literature' feel like a book has to be ignored if it reaches more than 750 readers."
-Stephen King

As of October 2010, the Twilight series had sold over 116 million copies worldwide. How many copies did your last book sell?

It's simple wisdom to study those who've accomplished what you're trying to accomplish. And your goal to write for a living presumably means you want to sell books. Even if your main objective is that ethical, "change the world" outlook, you'll need to convince the world to buy your book first.

We seem to have a prejudice against books that sell, shunning them when we could be learning from them. As Stephen King put it, "Sometimes I think that the people who are defenders of what they call 'literature' feel like a book has to be ignored if it reaches more than 750 readers."

2. Meyer employs a powerful archetypal story

At its core, Twilight is not a story of sparkly, stalker vampires and fuzzy, telepathic werewolves. Yes, those elements are present, but any story can be de-contextualized in ways that make it sound ridiculous.

Star Wars is the story of a farmer who was supposed to be working on some machinery but instead ran away with an old man, kissed his own sister, and blew up his father's most recent construction project. But Star Wars is much more than that. Believe it or not, Twilight---like Star Wars---is an archetypal journey.

The protagonist, a normal person, discovers a mythical world hidden all around them. They are inducted into this secret and shown the hidden realities by a guide who reveals that the protagonist has a special role within this world.

They are "the boy who lived." Or an expert on symbols whose knowledge is the key to uncovering secret societies. Or the last of the Jedi. Or they're able to resist Edward's mind-reading capabilities.

More important than the role of the protagonist is the journey of the reader. They're able to discover the hidden world within the shadowy spaces of a recognizable, everyday reality. This story is powerful because it continues to act beyond the borders of its pages: It transforms the common world into a potentially mythical place, and puts the reader in a position where they could be the next "chosen one." 

3. Bella may be an effective "projection screen" protagonist

Two common complaints about Bella (Twilight's lead) are her lack of depth and her constant passivity. Are these weaknesses of character? Sure. But they may not be weaknesses in storytelling. If the objective is to allow the reader to take the protagonist's journey, to project their own qualities onto the lead character, Bella's thin personality may allow her to serve as an optimal "projection screen."

Bella is concerned with the mundane---with classes, with what to make for dinner, with making friends. She lacks conviction or direction of her own. She is entirely ordinary. In these ways, she is very like your ordinary reader: Also concerned with the mundane, and in this confusing world of ours, often lacking a clear sense of direction or purpose. To start from a blank and powerless position and gradually add layers of power and purpose to Bella's---and vicariously, the reader's---life is cathartic.

4. Meyer isn't as bad as we like to pretend

If the objective is to allow the reader to take the protagonist's journey [...] Bella's thin personality may allow her to serve as an optimal "projection screen."

Twilight suffers at the sentence level. For practiced writers, it can sometimes be painful to read. However, being godawful at some things doesn't preclude being good at others.

Meyer is good at the macro level. As writers, you and I often obsess over the micro level. Beautiful sentences matter to us. But not to all of our readers. To them, a worn cliche may be indistinguishable from a beautifully novel display of craft. There's nothing wrong with taking care of that audience---by both decreasing our obsession with the micro level and paying more attention to the macro level of our storytelling.

5. The world and characters are interesting

Is Twilight's world novel? Insightful, inspiring, or otherwise meaningful? Nope. But stories don't always have to be. We want someone to hold our attention. And Twilight does, because the Twilight universe is, if nothing else, interesting.

The world provides a mythos that allows tested fantasies to unfold. Everything makes a showing: our favorite super powers (from mind-reading to super speed), our desire for love and friendship, our need for status and praise, and even the desire to overcome aging and death. The supernatural abilities and the characters who possess them are put into play with enough variance that they don't get worn out to your average reader.

6. Meyer's sense of suspense is brilliant

You'll forgive me for ruining the plot of the second book for you. Here's what happens:

Edward leaves. A few hundred pages later, Edward comes back. The end.

Sure, there are motorcycle accidents and Italian people in there somewhere, but really, the plot centers around nothing more than Edward's absence and return. And Meyer keeps readers interested the entire time.

How? The world she's built, the intermediary struggles she sets up, the way she uses chapter hooks---and a dozen other minor elements of her writing. Beyond that, Twilight is abstinence porn. Bella is continually not having sex with Edward. The constant effort involved fuels a very different sort of suspense.

Despite everything wrong with the series, Meyer does an amazing job of convincing readers to keep turning the pages. In honing your ability to do likewise, Twilight shows itself as a powerful artifact to study.

7. You can learn from Meyer's weaknesses

If your critical eye stays open during the reading process, you can learn far more about the craft by reading a shoddy sentence than a decent one. And Twilight has lots of shoddy sentences. You'll find repetitive and indulgent descriptions (especially of Edward), wordiness, cliches, stilted dialogue ... and plenty more.

And there are plot issues. The fourth book culminates in a mighty anticlimax (so much for abstinence porn). The second book runs around in circles. The "villains" of the first book follow empty notions of "pure evil." I could go on.

But I won't. Rather, you should read the book yourself and learn what miss-steps make people so eager to kick this series into the dirt. You may just be making some of the same mistakes in your own writing.

8. Reading Twilight gives you the right to bash on it

Twilight is huge. 116 million copies sold, a five-movie deal, and endless internet memes. This story is part of our Zeitgeist. And bashing on Twilight is part of the literary Zeitgeist. If you're condemning the book without having read it, however, you're no better than political talk radio hosts, Larry Craig, or any of the other uneducated phonies who prefer big talk to basic understanding.

Once you've read the book, please, feel free: Bash away. There's plenty to hate about the series. There are far better writers out there who have far less recognition, and as a writer who cares about the craft, that can feel unjust. So hate on Twilight all you'd like.

But knowing what you're talking about should be part of the process. Further, as part of the modern Zeitgeist, it's important that we talk about Twilight in a way that recognizes how far its central messages have spread. The story speaks to its readers (whether that's us or our neighbors or our students or our daughters), and its messages are often disturbing.

"Here, Bella: Choose between the boy who stalked you and the gang leader with a major anger problem." "Here, Bella: Let me show you why you should let the men take care of the problems." "Here, Bella: Self-destructive behavior will help you get pity and rewards from others." If we don't take the book seriously, it's hard to talk about these messages in a way that helps readers---including young, impressionable readers---distance themselves appropriately.

I'm not here arguing that Twilight is a good book. I'm here arguing that Twilight is a successful book. There's much to learn from its strengths and even more to learn from its weaknesses. Whether you wish it so or not, Twilight is part of our culture---and if you want to be part of the conversation or the bashing---you need to read the damn books.

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Komal J Verma's picture
Komal J Verma from London December 27, 2012 - 10:19am

I agree with one thing alone - that it held some measure of suspense, i.e. one turned the page assuming it couldn't actually get worse. 

There is absolutely nothing interesting about the world and point 3 - a character projection screen? Awful! Weaknesses in character ARE weaknesses in storytelling. The whole reason we have a vested interest in the story unfurling is because we have a vested interest in a worthy character. The character has to be the central pivot from which everything else comes about. IMO. 



hpalaski's picture
hpalaski December 27, 2012 - 10:26am

If we do take the advice and read these atrocious books let us please get them from the library or purchase them second hand so as to not feed the cash making machine of the franchise.

MegN's picture
MegN December 27, 2012 - 10:40am

I like your points!  I think it's important to see things in more of a gray scale (we can learn something from atrocious books) than black and white (they are awful and there is nothing redeeming about them).  I think you're smart to recognize how they can actually be useful.

Marlow Monday's picture
Marlow Monday December 27, 2012 - 12:14pm

What about Fifty Shades of Grey then?? 

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from CA, TX, Japan, back to CA is reading The Tyrant - Michael Cisco, The Devil Takes You Home - Gabino Iglesias December 27, 2012 - 1:22pm

I don't entirely disgaree with every point, but still generally disagree with most of it (the details do matter: because almost all stories are archetypal, the details are what make things interesting, and this is why Star Wars—which I don't really even like on the whole—trumps Twilight in about every way possible, because those details are interesting and in the earlier movies captured with a flair and artistic earnestness Twilight simply does not have).

But the one thing I always have to say, which I've said it ten thousand times before and will say ten thousand times again: if you have the time to read numerous books in a terrible series just for the right to bash it, you have far more time than I do. I have a bookshelf with several hundred excellent (or at least purportedly excellent) books to read, and I would much rather spend my very limited free time digging into those than taking notes on something I already know is crap.

FupDuck's picture
FupDuck from Beavercreek, OH is reading American on Purpose December 27, 2012 - 1:32pm

Question about point #8...  In general, how much of a book do you have to read before you can, in good faith, give up on a book?  First chapter, 100 pages, half the book???  I read about half of Twilight before I put it down in disgust.  Do I have the right to bash it or can I only complain about its quality half the time?

BTW - Good article.

Erros's picture
Erros December 27, 2012 - 2:09pm

I took a college lit course in Popular Fiction and Twilight was one of the books we read. I wrote my term paper that semester about what a terrible role model Bella truly is for young readers. It is absolutely offensive the way that girl views herself and the way she obsessively needs to have a man (who is described as nothing short of perfect) to make her feel better.

austerus's picture
austerus December 27, 2012 - 2:41pm

I'm sorry, I think the author of the article tries to make a point but I don't think it's related to the title at all.

Let's take the items one by one:


1. It's a relative point. As an author, do you want to compromise the purpose of your work? What would you trade to turn your work into something as commercial as twilight? Twilight sells. So did Sandra Brown in her time, but I haven't seen her given as an example to follow. IF you write to get your work sold by compromising your message, go that way. But anyone could tell you there's another way: smart marketing. Marketing is what sells and it can sell regardless of content.

2. What does an archetypel plot have to do with anything? SHould all authors thread the same path that's been trodden times and times before? No new ground ... ever? Should "smart authors" follow the archetypal path? I could never concede that point.

3. Yes and no. If you want to turn Bella into a "blank canvas", that can work only for the audience of the book: early teens. As a reader you can indeed turn her into whatever you want. She's a playtoy. But please give some regard to literature history: what are the most memorable characters? How many of those have no personality?

4. She's not all bad. That's true of most writers. If you dig deep enough you can find good things. There's nothing wrong with that, but I'm not the kind that digs any trash looking for glittering gold, what's the purpose of that?

5. That's a matter of taste. To me it's not, but I know others that are interested in it to various degrees.

6. Again, a matter of taste. I can't find any suspense to save my life. Even the dumbest teen I know knows what's coming next. It's an archetypal story after all and that's what archetypal bottom line is: predictability. There's no suspense whatsoever.

7. Finally I point I agree with.

8. Agree, again, but just like points 3,5,6 and 7 it has nothing to do with being a "smart" writer. I would only change that to: tried to read. I forced myself through half the first book and part of the second. It's not completely unbearable (Meyer is not all bad), but readers are different. If you can't find a path through the story that resonates with you then reading it is simply an exercise in futility. You *can* read it but it doesn't enrich your existence beyond learning what not to do and even that it's obvious to the point where you can quit the book once you found it. 

Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works December 27, 2012 - 3:46pm

I feel dirty just reading this, let alone Twilight. I can never forgive the Desecration of one of my favorite words, "Twilight" just saying the word invokes a world between worlds, and its derived from german no less!

Now and for at least a decade itll be synonymous with stripper vampires dousing themselves in glitter.

AM Gray's picture
AM Gray from Australia is reading The Book of Blood and Shadow, by Robin Wasserman December 27, 2012 - 4:32pm

I read the twilight books because my daughter, who was 12 at the time, read them. I was utterly horrified by the ending of the story and Edward’s borderline abusive behaviour. Bella spends four books trying to kill herself and eventually succeeds - to be with her first High school love. Don’t even get me started on the ridiculous idea that a vampire with eternity, no need to sleep and an ability to day-walk would spend all their time in High School. Repeating the experience over and over. That would be a living Hell.
The writing is awful, the ‘science’ makes no sense, Meyer breaks her own character rules and her own world rules (newborn vampires are uncontrollable for six months. Bella doesn’t do six seconds), destroys vampire canon, and ultimately gives her main character everything she has ever wanted. Even a baby. Explain that one, science.
But I read the books, in fact, I couldn’t put them down. I can’t even tell you why I kept reading them. The last one did almost get thrown into the wall with that appalling cop-out of an ending.
A lot of the characters are more characterisations than people, but some of them intrigued me.
So I tried to find a better ending, stumbled into the world of fanfiction and stayed.
I write fanfiction. I’m not ashamed to say it. This is me:
I ‘fix’ Bella Swan. As you say she is a very bland character. It’s remarkably easy to push her a tiny bit in any direction. Make her more self-reliant; give her the spine she doesn’t have in the books.
It’s great training - writing is writing in my book. I do have an issue with ‘pull to publish’ works like ‘50 shades’ or ‘beautiful bastard’ that started life as a Twilight fanfic. And then in the 50 case, have tried mightily to deny it. It is 89% the same as the fanfic. Thank you DearAuthor for proving that before James removed all references from the wayback machine.
Fanfic gives me an inbuilt critique group. The reviewers will argue, sometimes rudely, that you have forgotten a plot point or that your character is acting differently. If you put in the effort to write a proper story, with plot lines and story arcs, then is it great training. There is a whole lot of crap on there but there are also some fabulous writers.
It has given me the impetus and the confidence to try and write my own stuff.
And for that, I do have to thank Twilight.

Macgowan's picture
Macgowan from New Jersey is reading House of Leaves December 27, 2012 - 6:26pm

While I agree that studying bad writing can be beneficial, I really don't think Twilight is a great specimen to dissect. I suppose that, because of its ubiquitous pop cultural diffusion, I know what I need to about the series, even without having read it. I agree that if you're going to bash something, you should first familiarize yourself with it. I don't bash Twilight for the same reason I don't criticize professional athletes: it's simply not something I care enough about to get worked up.

But how, really, can we benefit from slogging through the dross? Understanding the "projection screen" protagonist is well and good, but it's not terribly helpful unless your goal is to write something in which wish fulfillment is more important than story. 

You mention archetypes, which I'll agree are useful to consider. However, I don't see how reading Twilight will teach you any more about archetypes than, say, a drunken night surfing TvTropes or choosing four books at random to read instead. Archetypes, by their very nature, are every-damn-where. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I could see how reading Twilight could be beneficial for a writer, but I'm having trouble seeing a benefit that is unique to this series, a specific insight that couldn't just as easily be gained from something better written. King is right in saying that popularity doesn't mean that a piece of writing is bad, but it sure as hell doesn't make it worthwhile, either.

Macgowan's picture
Macgowan from New Jersey is reading House of Leaves December 27, 2012 - 6:29pm

Double post, damnit

Don't I feel embarassed now.

Have a bad haiku

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs December 27, 2012 - 9:56pm

There are books that sell well that are significantly better, such as the Harry Potter series. Those books can be read for the majority of the same reasons without having to suffer.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs December 27, 2012 - 9:57pm

There are books that sell well that are significantly better, such as the Harry Potter series. Those books can be read for the majority of the same reasons without having to suffer.

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading currently too many to list December 27, 2012 - 10:53pm

I read the books a couple of years ago, because I am a huge Harry Potter fan and needed something to read when the series ripped my heart out by ending. A friend suggested Twilight and I gave it a go. The books took me approximately one weekend to complete and that was with me working a full time job and going to college full time. Do I regret reading them? Absolutely not. People can sit and complain about them all they want, but there ARE SOME good aspects to the books. What frustrates me more than anything is the fact that the books are about Bella and Edward. There are way better characters, with way better back stories that would have made better books.

Jasper and Alice have intriguing stories and powers. Alice was in a mental institution and Jasper controlled a vampire army in the Civil War. Rosalie had her world destroyed when her fiance and his buddies gang raped her in an alley before their wedding. She used her new strength to come back and rip them to pieces. Esme had an abusive husband and threw herself off of a cliff when her baby died. Leah Clearwater is a BAMF, who hates Bella and is treated like a bitch, because she doesn't want to risk her life or the lives of her loved ones to protect the stupid girl. There are so many little pieces that could have been great stories, but all of them were pushed aside so the romance between the stalker and the weakling could be celebrated. One thing that bothers me most about poorly written books is when there is a missed potential.

Daniel Donche's picture
Daniel Donche from Seattle is reading Transubstantiate, by Richard Thomas December 28, 2012 - 3:59am

Ooh! Do Hunger Games next!

NuclearIsaac's picture
NuclearIsaac December 28, 2012 - 4:14am

You're forgetting something basilar: quality doesn't mean quantity.

If whatever milions of people read Twilight and think of it as a masterpiece it-does-not-mean that it's a good book. Sliping a Stephen King's quote as some sort ot excuse will not justify the atrocity books like Twilight or 50 Shades ofblabla have been for literature.

And no, I will not read Twilight, but thanks for trying.

Xyzzy's picture
Xyzzy from Sonoma County, Northern California is reading Kim Harrison’s “Ever After” January 1, 2013 - 4:12am

I think that a lot of the people commenting are missing the point of the article, or rather, of reading books like Twilight.  (I haven't read the book or watched the movie, FWIW; they're not my style.)  It's not so we can slavishly imitate it, but that so we can identify the elements that helped make it wildly successful across a very wide age range, then adapt ones that would work well for our own preferred style.  My protagonists are strong, independent girls -- Bella's opposite -- but that doesn't mean that I can't possibly pick up ways to convey their traits so readers identify with or admire them...

fport's picture
fport from Canada is reading The World Until Yesterday - Jared Diamond January 1, 2013 - 3:19pm

Yes, boil it down to examples of fiscal success.

It's nice of course but very, very few ever achieve the heights. The same goes for hockey stars, movie stars, political stars, military stars, business stars oh and of course writing stars.

If it was easy - everyone would be doing it. Just like programming. Ok, let's follow that analogy but not too closely because everything bogs down and dies or falls apart if you look too closely.

There are at least a hundred major programming languages in daily use out there driving everything from commerce to communications. Hmmm, like genres? Languages like C are used for programming apps and adding device drivers to Linux and Unix which makes the whole internet run. Writing, education, textbooks? Your word processors, photo manipulation and browsers come from things like C++. Fiction? Other people swear oaths to Python which put content on the net and into networks for everything from gathering places to data pools. Best sellers? Everyone has heard of Java but how many know it is the backbone for business applications? Non fiction? Can they tell the difference between it and JavaScript which underlies web apps like mail? How does that differ from PHP which gives us most web forms and other interactive web pages? Literary?  

Can you see that this fails? It's a poor effort. It hits jargon immediately and the metaphors are forced and flimsy. An expert writer with a programming background could smooth this out and add graceful and elegant metaphors to draw a non writing programming crowd into the explanation comparing writing excellence and fiscal success with programming excellence and gainful employment or a successful venture - like google.

Okay let's try again.

Some corporations have up to 30 languages driving, supporting and running their operations.

That would be like a newspaper in the days of old with a staff of hundreds and five main sections from news to obituaries. English might be the operating system but each of the writers would represent a different programming language thrust. News giving out facts, in cold hard objective language, I'm talking the old days before we tabloided, where only the society page was based on innuendo, opinion and gossip with thready analysis of trending who's who.  Sports, writing uses a very special subset of english due to the commentator and interview'ee as does business and stockmarket reporting where gambling metaphors abound.

But again, this doesn't do well for the programming metaphor or the analysis of writing success.

So lets hunker down and hie back to the point the author of this piece is making, you should read successful author's works to familiarize yourself with what sells. What sells occurs over an enormous spectrum of genres and a myriad of circumstances from self publishing to ponderous campaigns from monolithic marketing machinery. 

To make his point he throws Twighlight at us flopping like an ungainly 8 foot long sturgeon hauled from the depths of a river bouncing all around the boat where we fisherman were all standing waiting for perhaps a medium sized trout to supplement our breakfast fare. Why? To create a controversy. To challenge us. To make us fight back and perhaps come up with something new to think about.

Back to the programming analogy. Like writers, programers come in all different strengths and weaknesses. Some are codesmiths, others are architects and others are wildings that cannot be followed where they go. It's agreed however that the best like the best writers are at least 10 times if not 100 times better at what they do regardless of the programming language they use. Talking about the subset of writers that use english to write their prose I am sure that no one would oppose that point of view over the many genres that the masters arise from.

But what it comes down to despite all the complexity and sophistication or elegance, programmers are talking to a machine in its language through an abstraction called a programming language which at its base remains ones and zeroes. On and off. They ask the machine to do things for them within its boundaries and limitations and the very best make it sit up and sing.

Writers like programmers speak to the machine as well. A much more complex machine with millions upon millions of inputs and outputs but in the abstraction of english, made to feel, made to sit up and take notice becoming inspired, horrified or enlightened by what are mere words cast upon the page. 

Ah well, reading Twighlight may be the stuff of courses that seek to enlighten, just like others use movie plots disected to their bones I can't help but feel it is about the writing and learning to express the inner voice that is speaking to you rather than a formula to be learned and executed with precision falling somewhere along the grading curve where insubstantialities like plot, character, prose, heart, mind, story, conversation, thoughts and experience matter far more in their mix.

A programmer like a writer needs to practice their craft. An expert is something defined usually from several metrics, 5 years of effort, 10,000 hours of practice, 20,000 instances but that falls far short of being a master. For both professions that simply constitutes the time necessary to gain experience, build a toolbox and become competent. A master is the one who sees farther and then amazes.

Either path may bring financial success or fulfillment or both. Very few travel it for its length.

Neil Davidson's picture
Neil Davidson is reading Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov January 2, 2013 - 3:08pm

That's a really solid argument. I had read it, because of reason #8 (I hate mocking things without at least having read or watched them first), but I had never really spent a whole lot of time thinking about the fact that the books really have been incredibly successful. Really interesting article.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK January 2, 2013 - 3:19pm

Surely by reading Twilight, 50 Shades, etc. and imitating the elements that make them successful, you are just writing for commercial success, rather than for love or art?

I wouldn't want to imitate or learn from Twilight. It would ruin any integrity my writing has. I write to tell a story, for the love of literature, and to explore the art. I write that which I want to say, not what people want to read.

Did Hemingway think "I know, I'll write a book about an old man and a marlin, because that is what people want."? No. He wrote that story because he wanted to tell it.

If you want to give the people what they want, go work for a tabloid. If you want to give them what they need, get off Twitter and write some great prose.

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing January 3, 2013 - 9:36am

"As of October 2010, the Twilight series had sold over 116 million copies worldwide. How many copies did your last book sell?"

That is hitting below the belt, sir. Below the belt!


Jared Steven Welch's picture
Jared Steven Welch February 15, 2013 - 11:14pm

Komal, I can't think of ANY story I like where the main characte ris my faveorite (Even Batman as awsoemly...Batman as he is, I'm far mroe interested in The Joker and other villians, and the Robins and Batgirls, and oftne evne Jim Gordon.) and many stoires where I practly hate the main lead, like Buffy, Buffy herself I found horrible. 

But the tactic of haveing a Main POV character who alcks peornslaity so you cna put yoursel fin thier place eaislly is hardly some crime of writeing, it's usually been the Standard in Video Games story telling.

Murasaki_Ducky's picture
Murasaki_Ducky from Austin is reading Stardust December 5, 2013 - 1:54pm

lol! Can you say...spam-itis?

Daniel González Chaves's picture
Daniel González... February 14, 2015 - 11:25am

Why is people so obsessed with Luke and Leia's kiss? I always thought it was kind of innocent, anyway I guess people hammer on that part because they didn't get the joke.

On the other hand I totally disagree with the author. In most of his points he is just saying; all you have to do is the same crap that Meyer's does, in that way you will be a rich author, a mediocre lousy but rich author. Well, you'll have money so probably that's enough to turn off your conscience that you are doing and selling artistic garbage.

That's a terrible message. The idea that the main character should be like Bella -basically a cardboard shallow shell for the reader to fit in- in order to sell copies is bogus. Besides, Blair is using Twilight as an example of a successful book, but what about other examples of good quality best sellers? like GRR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, anyone? complex characters, deep character development, interesting plots, etc. That's an example of how good literature can also be best selling. You don't have to do crap to sell.

Devynn Belter's picture
Devynn Belter May 8, 2015 - 7:07pm

...Star Wars still sounds interesting at maximum de-contexualization...

Avi Kraft's picture
Avi Kraft June 20, 2017 - 7:58pm

Yeah, no, this is fucking bullshit.

1. Yes, Meyer sells. But there are plenty of other writers who sell and can actually, you know, write. It's really ironic you should mention Stephen King, as he DESPISES Twilight, which is a pretty good indication that the criticism is not coming from literary criticism.

2. This is a bullshit reason that can apply to literally any story. Read The Seven Basic Plots; it lists seven archetypal stories that collectively encompass nearly every book ever written.

3. It's not that Bella doesn't have a personality. It's that the personality we see of her is the exact opposite of the personality we're constantly told she has in every way, cancelling out to create no net effective personality. We're told that she is an extremely compassionate, intelligent, independent woman who is above the shallowness of her classmates, but her actions show that she's actually a suicidally idiotic, psychopathic stalker who thinks of literally nothing other than how hot her boyfriend is and how much better she is than everyone else.

4. Yes, she is. Not just at the sentence level. On every level. Her plots are terrible. Her characters are terrible. Her world is terrible. The only thing she's even vaguely good at is pandering to stupid teenage girls. I don't mean this as an insult to teenage girls in general. Every teenager I know thinks Twilight is terrible regardless of gender. Twilight's target audience is not all teenage girls, but *stupid* teenage girls specifically.

5. No, it's not. Meyer's world is boring because it's all designed solely to show how much better vampires (and Bella) are than non-Bella humans. Her vampires have all the strengths of normal vampires with absolutely no weaknesses. They're stronger, faster, tougher, (allegedly) smarter, better in every way, without any disadvantages to compensate. Her characters aren't interesting, because she doesn't have characterization. She puts lots of names in her books, and she invented personalities for each of them, but none of the characters' actions match the personalities they're supposed to have.

6. What? What suspense is there? It's the cliché storm to end all cliché storms, and anything vaguely surprising is only surprising because it literally makes no sense and there is no possible explanation for it. 

7. Can't really argue there, though it would be ideal to learn from a writer who has strengths as well as weaknesses. 

8. Ordinarily, I would agree with this. However, I am amazed at how rare inaccurate criticisms of Twilight actually are. Usually, when there is such a massive circlejerk about hating a book, I am skeptical. Twilight is the only time that skepticism has ever proven unfounded. Not only are all the flaws people claim actually there, but there is really nothing of value in it. This is the only book I know of where the circlejerk about how much it sucks actually downplays all its flaws.