Stephenie Meyer has spawned monsters. I’m not referring to her sparkling vampires or her werewolf mob. I mean Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. These books are written monsters.
Though I would not typically describe myself as a nihilist, I have given up all hope that any rule of writing has emerged unscathed from the clumsy hands of Meyer. It is unseemly how some run-on sentences are brimming with words, yet so many sentence fragments starve for a complete idea. She abuses and misuses punctuation. Simple thoughts are interrupted with peripheral observations. Meyer’s novels are engorged with maudlin adjective after maudlin adjective. Her vocabulary is both pompous and unwieldy as she has little grasp of how to use words with the appropriate tone/connotation for the idea she’s thrashing on the page.
We have codified the process of writing for a reason. The rules of writing aren’t there to smother creativity or keep people from having their own style. We have rules for writing so we may safe-keep ideas. When the capsule of a sentence is broken into, it should form in the reader’s mind as close as possible to the shape that appeared in the author’s. Rules guide us how to efficiently pack and unpack ideas in text.
Let’s be clear: I don’t believe in the technical rules of writing out of some abiding respect for law and order. I don’t even believe the rules should always be followed. I adore the way E.E. Cummings transcends the page by completely disregarding “proper” form. Accessible, natural writing often steps around the technical rules to capture streams of consciousness and realistic dialogue. The vital point, however, is that when the written word wanders away from conventional rules, it ought to be moving toward something. Color outside the lines, yes, but do so because you’re drawing a new picture, not because you’re scribble-checking whether the ballpoint pen still has ink.
The Twilight Saga wasn’t enriched by sentences that make seventh grade English teachers cry. When Stephenie Meyer uses the wrong word, it’s not innovative like Picasso painting an eye where a mouth should be. It’s wrong. It’s a sloppy mess.
Some passages are faint embers of “I wrote it this way because that’s how I talk/or how a teenager thinks” but those burn out before I can feel any warmth towards the story. I don’t care if that’s representative of Bella’s stream of conscious or Meyer’s thought process. The written word has the advantage of thoughtful communication. We are limited by the tips of our tongues when we speak. Our minds get clouded by anger and love, too much to drink, not enough sleep, and feeling every feeling all at once.
The page is still. The page waits for you to calm down. The page holds that blurry thought while you squint at the edges, holds it until you know just how to laminate that event/emotion/entity with words and punctuation. The page can wait for hundreds of years to be read, so it’s not too much to ask that an author takes the time to write it right, instead of just right now.
Stephenie Meyer has written big, unintentionally destructive, curiously strong, lumbering apes of books.
And because of this, there’s a part of me — and I can’t tell you how reluctant that part is (lolz) — that admits Isabella Swan and Edward Cullen might have a love story for the ages. Bella and Edward’s love survived its creator. This love story traveled from the black depths of nonexistence into existence in the rickety vehicle of Stephenie Meyer’s writing. Despite that rough journey, their love still resonates with some readers. The saga still calls out to many people. Though I may not hear it, I’m not so arrogant as to deny the possibility of a whistle in the distance as I watch the dogs pace in the yard and bark into the still night.