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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Twilight -love it, hate it and why

   
Author Topic: Twilight -love it, hate it and why
robertq
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My other thread on first person has some interesting stuff discussing Twilight, for eample MattLeo says,
I find discussion of Twilight fascinating. Say what you will, they are books that elicit strong reactions one way or the other. Most manuscripts I see and indeed most published books are unlikely to be loved or hated by anyone but their authors. They'll generate either mild liking or indifference. They won't *matter* enough to anyone to debate.

So I'd say Meyer did something right for some people and something wrong for others. The really interesting question is whether those things are one and the same. I think most people on either side of the debate simply assume they are fighting over the same things when they may well be just talking past each other. When you assume your reaction to a book is objective and authoritative you preclude learning anything from it or being able to discuss it in any useful way.

Thanks MattLeo, that's a fascinating question! On another workshop there was a story written in first person that split right down the middle---some people really liked it, others didn't. Another anecdote that may touch upon the same phenomenon. You all may have heard of the Myers Briggs personality type indicator. I had a roommate who score an extreme NF, that is, imagination-valuing and feeling decsion-making. Whereas I was an extreme NT, imagination-valuing and Logical/Cognitive decision-making. Whenever I was flipping through channels on the TV, he'd get really annoyed. "I'm just starting to really get into the story and you keep flipping the channel." His approach was sort of empathetic/identifying. Whereas I was scrutinizing the costumes and sets and lighting and asking myself whether this program is worth my investing any time in it. A completely different approach. I'm wondering if this touch upon the extreme variance in reactions to the aforementioned story and perhaps Twilight. (I have never read it by the way.)

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redux
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Why is Twilight so fascinating? You might likewise ask, why is Harry Potter more famous than Mildred Hubble?

I am going to go out on a limb and say that the Twilight appeal has more to do with modern marketing than it does with the actual story.

Edward is the culprit, the crux, the center of the marketing universe. He is perfect. He is chaste. He is literally a glittering diamond in the sun. And we all know what they say about diamonds - they are a girl's best friend.

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MattLeo
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Redux writes:
quote:
I am going to go out on a limb and say that the Twilight appeal has more to do with modern marketing than it does with the actual story.
I frequently hear this claim made about some book that doesn't appeal to the claimant. For example I've heard this said about the Harry Potter series, but this ignores the actual publication history. It took several years for the Harry Potter phenomenon to develop.

There may be something to the claim in the case of Twilight. Meyer had never written anything before, but Little Brown offered her a 3 book, $750,000 deal on the basis of three months work. In comparison Jo Rowling got an advance of £2500 for *Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone*, which had an initial print run of 500 copies. So Harry Potter was clearly a long shot where *Twilight* was intended to be a blockbuster from the start.

But that still doesn't answer two questions. Why choose *this* novel for the blockbuster treatment? And why did so many readers respond to the book as they did? You can't manufacture that kind of fanaticism without having something unusual to work with. The example which demonstrates this is Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series, which from the outset was acquired and promoted as a "methadone book" -- something to read while you waited for another Harry Potter fix.

Riordan ingeniously reverse engineered the narrative armature of the Harry Potter series, built his own copy and applied a different skin to it. The result was a well engineered story built on sound, proven narrative architecture. It was vigorously promoted and won well-deserved success, with *The Lightning Thief* selling 1.2 million copies.

I'd argue that *The Lightning Thief* is more solidly written than *Twilight*, and possibly even *Philosopher's Stone* -- if by that you mean not committing glaring errors like pointlessly meandering dialog (Twilight) or serial adverb abuse (Harry Potter). Yet despite being solid and entertaining, The Percy Jackson books strike me as somewhat soul-less. The series has its fans, but it won't ever inspire the fanatic devotion that Harry Potter and Twilight do.

I'll go out on a limb an say that *Twilight's* success is due to something special in the story, even though the book is not my particular cup of tea and I can point to many faults in it. It's not utterly bad from a writing standpoint, there are several stretches, in the story which I admire without reservation, but the success of these books is not about craft.

I think the secret sauce is *conviction*. Meyers writes with genuine conviction. It happens to be conviction that not everyone shares, and the book's technical limitations mean it has little to offer to those who are not believers.

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redux
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quote:
I think the secret sauce is *conviction*. Meyers writes with genuine conviction. It happens to be conviction that not everyone shares, and the book's technical limitations mean it has little to offer to those who are not believers.
As opposed to .... ?
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Mechanical skill?

I read THE LIGHTNING THIEF and it left me cold. I loved the TWILIGHT books.

And all I can say is that for me, Meyer is a compelling story teller, and Riordan wasn't. (I also loved the Harry Potter books.)

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Foste
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Dunno. I am not big on abusive vampire boyfriends.

A lot of factors clicked when Meyer got published and Twilight became a sensation.

Explaining HOW and WHY is an exercise in futility.

Also there's a lot of unpublished folks, I imagine, who write with more conviction and have better prose to boot.

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Meredith
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Nothing against Twilight, whether or not it's well written. You have to grant that it must have something. I haven't read it simply because I know the story isn't for me.

I'm not big on stories about vampire lovers. I could probably get over that with a good enough story.

What I cannot stand--as in throw the book across the room can't stand--is a story in which the female protagonist has to be rescued by the big strong male. Once, okay. Twice, maybe. By the third time the little chit ought to either figure out how to stay out of trouble or how to take care of herself. And I don't care what happens to her anymore.

Same with female protagonists (Everneath) who sit around and wait for the guy to lead the way and show them what to do.

A lot of people obviously don't have a problem with these things. And that's fine. As my father would have said "It's a difference of opinion that makes a horse race."

Those stories drive me nuts (and, as my father would also have said "That's not a drive. It's a short putt.")

In a nutshell: Katniss, yes. Bella, no. (Although I have issues with the premise of Hunger Games, I have none with the writing or the character.)

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MattLeo
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redux:
quote:
As opposed to .... ?
As opposed to those who write very competently about things that don't matter much to them.

Foste:
quote:
A lot of factors clicked when Meyer got published and Twilight became a sensation.
... agreed ...

quote:
Also there's a lot of unpublished folks, I imagine, who write with more conviction and have better prose to boot.
Well, I'm not so sure. I often see unpublished prose that is *cleaner* and more tastefully composed, but it's clear to me that Meyer has something that is orthogonal to that. There's only so far you can go by eliminating faults from your writing. A cleaner revision of manuscript A is always better, but A being cleaner than B doesn't mean A is more interesting than B.

In any case, when I say "conviction" I don't mean "stubbornness". I mean a view of something larger than the story that they believe passionately in and which pervades their writing. A sure sign this happens is when you get a big fight over what a book *means*, in which the book's enemies construe all kinds of evil messages in it.

Kathleen:
quote:
I read THE LIGHTNING THIEF and it left me cold. I loved the TWILIGHT books.
This is exactly what I'm talking about. THE LIGHTNING THIEF isn't a fantasy, it's a clever and well-constructed contraption.

Meredith:
quote:
What I cannot stand--as in throw the book across the room can't stand--is a story in which the female protagonist has to be rescued by the big strong male.
I can count on you for a blurb for *The Keystone* then?
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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
Meredith:
quote:
What I cannot stand--as in throw the book across the room can't stand--is a story in which the female protagonist has to be rescued by the big strong male.
I can count on you for a blurb for *The Keystone* then?
You got it. [Smile]
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Robert Nowall
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Offhand, I'd say I didn't pick it up because it seemed much like any other of these endless vampire romances of late---but that's a poor excuse for not reading something. I may be passing up something really good, for all I know. But I'll stick with "I have a lot of reading material on hand and I'll go with what interests me the most first."
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extrinsic
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Word-of-mouth buzz generated by an exclusive audience niche and controversy from moral authorities opposing the novel's mixed messages, calling it trash and loud indictments of age innappropriateness, caused a large part of Twilight's success. Speaking of mixed messages.

The Potter phenomena became a sensation for similar reasons. It became an overnight must-have for the audience niche. You weren't "in" or cool if you didn't have a copy. Read it? Probably not as many as owned a copy.

And like Hunger Games, both were eminently translateable to the silver screen. Not too much interior discourse difficult to rework for their movies. L. Frank Baum and illustrator W.W. Denslow's 1900 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz similarly enjoyed buzz, coolness, controversy, and movie translation. And a whopping thirteen novel sequels for the franchise.

Word-of-mouth buzz, in-group coolness, controversy from moral authorities' disapproval, forbidden fruit, so to speak, and pre-prepared for screenplay packaging. A perfecta of marketing powerhouses.

[ June 11, 2012, 07:47 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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babooher
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For a--more adult--view on Twilight get on youtube and use the words "Kevin Smith Twilight" Just be warned that there are several F-bombs.

"There's a plan...and it's working!"

And Meredith, about your dislike for the female protagonist waiting to be rescued, I agree, but I also hate a female protagonist who is really just a man with boobs like Lara Croft.

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redux
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quote:

And Meredith, about your dislike for the female protagonist waiting to be rescued, I agree, but I also hate a female protagonist who is really just a man with boobs like Lara Croft.

Meredith, babooher, I fully agree with his. Sometimes I'm not sure what bothers me more, a full fledged damsel in distress, or giving a female protagonist a sword and armor as props for empowerment and then calling it a day.

MattLeo brought up an interesting point about conviction. Personally, I don't think it is enough to explain why Twilight became so popular among teens and their moms. There are so many books that have been written with genuine conviction that sadly are not as popular as Twilight. Also, I don't think Harry Potter and Twilight are fair comparisons. The latter is marketed to Young Adults who have greater purchasing power than middle grade readers.

If anything found on the internet is to believed, the first Twilight book sold 47 million copies since publication in 2005. Compare this to The Hobbit which has sold 100 million copies since publication in 1937.

So, Twilight has sold 6.7 million copies per year while The Hobbit is at a 1.3 million copies per year. Granted, The Hobbit has been around for 77 years, and Twilight's longevity is still to be seen. But I wonder if anyone would look at these sales figures and make an assumption that Tolkien simply didn't write with conviction.

Unless I am grossly misunderstanding you Matt Leo, in which case I sincerely apologize, I simply don't see how the "secret sauce" can be genuine conviction.

[ June 11, 2012, 08:18 PM: Message edited by: redux ]

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MAP
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Meyer definitely wrote a story that she felt passionately about. It is clear in reading it that her heart is in the story (I guess that could be conviction). That passion certainly helps, which is why I always think writers should write the story they really want to write. That passion comes through.

But it isn't just that, IMO. The book moves really fast. The pacing is amazing. It's like popcorn. You sit down with a big bowl and before you know it you've inhaled the entire thing. Every one of her books was like that for me, and I can't figure out why.

The second thing is that she perfectly captured that feeling of first love. That obsessive, all-consuming feeling. I know that not everyone feels that, but a lot do or have. So Twilight appeals to young teens (mostly girls) who want to feel that way, and older women (maybe some men too) who have moved past that into more mature relationships, but Twilight reminds them of how that first love felt.

I really think this is the power of stories, to elicit an emotional response. And Twilight does that, maybe not for everyone because not everyone feels the same way, but it definitely taps into that passion for a lot of the readers. That is pretty awesome, IMO. I would love to be able to do that.

I don't think Twilight is perfect. Like I mentioned on the other thread, I think Meyer loved her characters too much and protected them from any real hardships. I like to see a little more struggle and a lot more suffering. I guess I'm a little evil in that way.

I also thought that they were all a little anti-climatic, but that also has to do with Meyer protecting her characters. More hardships and higher stakes lead to better climaxes.

There are more issues I had, but they get more into personal preferences. But overall, the stories were entertaining.

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extrinsic
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Meyer, like Rowling and Collins and Baum and many, many other writers, writes picaresque action stories, which appeal more to young audiences than character or thought stories, middle adult and late adult appeals, respectively.

Picaresque: episodic adventures of a roguish protagonist. Not, per se, picturesque. Roguish protagonists appeal to young audiences developing independent self-identity formation. Teenage rebellion, in other words. Escalating episodic adventures keeps an audience's curiosity on edge.

[ June 11, 2012, 10:25 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Offhand, I'd say I didn't pick it up because it seemed much like any other of these endless vampire romances of late---but that's a poor excuse for not reading something. I may be passing up something really good, for all I know. But I'll stick with "I have a lot of reading material on hand and I'll go with what interests me the most first."

As far as I'm concerned, there's absolutely no arguing with that, Robert Nowall.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
The Potter phenomena became a sensation for similar reasons. It became an overnight must-have for the audience niche. You weren't "in" or cool if you didn't have a copy. Read it? Probably not as many as owned a copy.

I don't know about that, extrinsic. I was substitute teaching when one of the later books came out (you know how they got bigger and bigger), and I remember seeing a second-grade boy who was almost smaller than the copy he was reading absolutely buried in the book.

I'd be willing to bet (a milkshake, perhaps?) that if people bought the books, they bought them to read them.

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extrinsic
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I'd take that bet. My kinfolk, nieces and nephews and grands, possessed copies they pestered their parents for and never yet more than cracked a page or two. None of the parents read the books, waited for the movies. The library copies I absorbed, though, they'd had a hard life. If adult reader stats hold for young readers, I'd find 50/50 a credible bracket.
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MattLeo
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MAP brings up a really important point: pacing. I can think of another wildly popular book that doesn't get a lot of literary respect for artistic finesse: *The Da Vinci Code*.

The characterization in *The Da Vinci Code* really *does* make *Twilight* seem like *Washington Square*, but Dan Browne religiously follows the French Farce Rule: don't let your characters sit down after the first act. There is a scene change or a plot twist practically on every page. This comes at the expense of character and setting, but the plot moves along so fast you might not notice that the characters are flimsy and pretentious and the the exotic locales are so weakly described that Browne might well have plucked them from the index of *Let's Go France*.

We frequently face a dilemma in revising: do we keep this character or atmosphere building scene, or do we chuck it in the name of pacing? At the extreme you end up with *The Da Vinci Code*, which is wonderfully paced and marvelously easy to read, but utterly lacking in anything else you might want from a book. But most aspiring authors I've read tend to go to the opposite extreme.

Redux -- it occurs to me that when I talk about "popularity" I ought to make a distinction between simply attracting a large readership (*Da Vinci*) and inspiring fanatical devotion (*Twilight*, *Harry Potter*, *Lord of the Rings*), which I've largely been conflating.

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History
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What little I've learned is that people are insensibly different in their likes and dislikes.
What one loves another abhors.
I've even experienced this with my own (few) readers.

I submit that "success" itself is evidence of worthiness, i.e. that there exist enough readers who love a work--regardless of how I, or others, may not.

I understand, and I share, the YA attraction to the Harry Potter novels that capture the coming of age angst regarding school and friends and first romance mixed with the appeal of having special powers and, I submit, noble ethics. Despite awkward and run-on sentences, I liked the Harry Potter novels because I could personally relate to them.

Stephanie Meyers captured young women's love for forbidden romances--i.e. the ultimate girl fantasy triangle of young human woman--noble vampire--loyal werewolf; good girl with the ultimate bad boys! The novels were perfectly targeted to their intended audience and even to older women who have not lost the adolescent girl within them. However, they had little interest for me.

Similarly, the current middle-aged woman craze for the Shades of Grey trilogy bullseyed another unrequited forbidden female fantasy, even if few would ever consider or even condone what occurs in the books (i.e. sexual domination). I read a few chapters of the first novel and did not find the writing remarkable. >shrug< Yet it has connected emotionally, or titillated sufficiently to, like Harry Potter, become a steamroller success by word of mouth.

There are some fantasy books that gain great success that I find undeserving--the works of David McKiernan and Terry Brooks, for example, yet others that I find literary masterpieces of adult fantasy are little known and out of print--The High House novels of James Stoddard, for example.

The old adage is true: "You can't account for taste."

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

P.S. I once struggled to find an original Yiddishkeit twist on the vampire tale: a Jewish vampire who scoffs and laughs off warding crucifixes, who considers garlic only an added spice, who has no fear of sunlight for he always avoided it when alive!--it causes cancer, you know--so no big deal; and yet...Jews are forbidden to eat/drink blood per Deuteronomy 12:23--so he'd starve to, um, undeath. Nu? Not much of a tale.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Or, as extrinsic points out, maybe a large "buyership" if not a large "readership."

If we could be sure of more than anecdotal evidence, extrinsic, we might actually have a bet. But I don't think a milkshake is worth the trouble of finding hard evidence--if there actually is any.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I haven't heard of the Shades of Grey trilogy, except little negative references to it.

Dr. Bob, just imagine the struggle a Jewish vampire would have over the compulsion to drink blood, though. The story of that struggle could be quite poignant, I would think.

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MattLeo
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Well, Dr. Bob, C.S. Lewis proposed an empirical test for artistic merit in a book: whether it inspires anyone to read it over and over again. For Lewis that anyone feels they can glean more from repeated readings shows there is something there to be gleaned.

Of course because of the Internet we know that the world is full of people who do incomprehensible and probably irrational things. But we can stipulate that there must be a *substantial* fraction of the readers, and that except for their taste in books they are not evidently irrational.

The problem with adopting this test is that it would force us to grant artistic merit to all kinds of books we'd rather not acknowledge -- which is the point of course. That there are many *kinds* of artistic merit necessarily follows from the fact that different tribes of literary taste have the re-reading response to different books.

Oh, yes, on the vampire story, it occurred to me your vampire might want to consult Rabbi Salanter of Vilna.

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robertq
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On the subject of conviction in the storyteller. Someone once said "imagine the book you'd most like to read and then shamelessly go and write it."
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History
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With respect, I'll disagree with the esteemed C.S.L. The desire to re-read a book merely re-emphasizes the individual's emotional attachment to the work not that the work is objectively considered of "artistic merit." Again, the reaction is subjective.

Much as with a favorite song, a favorite book may recall an earlier--and often pleasant or emotionally significant--time in one's life. Re-reading the book can thus be a desire to recapture the joy or wonder one felt at the time of its first reading.

Or re-reading an old favorite story may be the result of personal disappointment with the stories being written in the present day. I find this a predilection I share.

A book someone chooses to re-read says more about the person who is re-reading rather than the book being re-read.

The exception may be books that many people choose to re-read--e.g. the LOTR, Dune, the Foundation trilogy, Stranger in a Strange Land, etc. However, even these sf/f classics have their detractors. Thus, true merit must lie beyond any personal re-reading preference.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

P.S. As for my "vampire story", there is no story--only thoughts on the dilemma posed for an observant Yehudi vampyr. In what way do you perceive the founder of the Mussar movement could assist him in resolving his ethical dilemma? And should he? Absolving the vampyr from the prohibition from drinking/eating blood could have, well, immediate and fatal consequences for the good Rabbi. Hmm, if this could be done, there may be a story there after all. [Wink]

So stop. I've got six stories to complete and I need to start a new one like I need to lose all my teeth save one, and that one have a toothache.

That is, once I get back from Los Angeles--no award ceremony for me like Nick Tchan, just moving my daughter to pursue her dream career in the music production business. Oy gevalt! My baby's going to be on her own in L.A.!

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Brendan
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I haven't read Twilight, so I cannot comment on its quality. However, on the marketing, I suspect the element of timing played a big role in both the success and the initial marketing push. Perhaps the real hero was the book that created a reading culture in young adults some eight years before - Harry Potter. Come 2005, the eight-year-olds of 1997 had turned into 16-year-olds, and the publishing companies would have been ready to throw money at this (now) proven niche. So a book comes along that meets the (wish fulfillment?) needs of that age bracket, craftily marketed by Meyer's agent, and an auction occurs with eight publishing houses (according to wikipedia) in the fray. Meyer's book was shrewdly targeted. Well done Meyer and Jodi (her agent).

One could say that both Apple and Microsoft's success was a happy convergence of "right place/product, right time" but that doesn't detract from their value in success. I think the same credit should be forwarded to Twilight, despite not having read it.

MatLeo's statement that "...glaring errors like pointlessly meandering dialog" leads me to two more related points. What is it that connected to this age group that allowed them to look past (even absorb) such "errors" in writing? Is this agegroup's own niavete about such stylistic rules the reason? If so, could future books look back at a lot of current works and date them because they do not meander in the same way that for example, 2040 stories do?

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extrinsic
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Meandering dialogue? Meyer wrote Twilight in a feminine voice. A student of Noam Chomsky, one of the most respected modern linguists, Robin Lakoff, a famous linguist in her own right, distinguished differences between masculine and feminine voice and underlying reasons for the differences in her signal work Language and Women's Place, 1975. Her groundbreaking gender research, exhaustively peer refereed, became the foundation for gender studies across the Western world.

At the heart of gendered voice distinctions, emotional bonding features distinguish feminine voice from masculine voice's status competition features. Note, feminine and masculine, not female and male. Everyone uses a degree of both. How much of which is situation specific, Situational clashes occur when voice is out of context or comfort-zone expectations.

More frequent adverb use, superlative degrees of expression, hedging language, emotionally persuasive rhetorical questions, context-specific verbal intonation, nonassertive language, polysyndeton (multiple clause conjunctions), and other feminine voice features build emotional bonds for the sake of building and strengthening community bonds. Where masculine language tends to be firm and contentious.

I had recently studied Lakoff's gender theories at the time I read Twilight. Eyes opened, I was prepared for and attuned to feminine voice. Twilight was an extraordinary test bench for exploring my dawning realization of gendered voice.

[ June 12, 2012, 10:03 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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babooher
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Hey extrinsic, are you suggesting there is a different standard of writing--on what good writing is--based on gender?
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extrinsic
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Based on identity, yes. Sex, age, social status, lifestyle, social orientation, ethnicity, national origin, belief system, etc. Not good or bad writing, per se, though. For every artless use in nearly identical context an artful use triumphs.

What for me is most artless about Twilight is telegraphing that calls undue attention to the artficiality of the constructed fictional reality. However, I'm widely read. The niche audience isn't and probably first consciously experienced conventional creative writing devices as clever and artful through that novel. Meyer too, first application. They're a little too transparent for my artistic sensibilities. But telegraphed to a necessary degree for the audience.

[ June 12, 2012, 11:24 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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babooher
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Extrinsic, I do believe we shall have to agree to disagree on your identity politics. It is a flavor of Kool-Aid I'm not overly fond of, but cheers nonetheless.

As for your observation on the conventional devices, I've often wondered about that very problem. What's old hat for the likes of us will be new to the less experienced. Were the books written for artistic appreciation or for sheer escapism? They can be critiqued both ways to very different outcomes.

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MattLeo
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Extrinsic -- I have no argument with the emotional tenor of *Twilight's* dialog. My problem is that dialog exchanges go on and on after they've made their point. While it's possible that this captures a certain aspect of real-world female communication, real world conversation is a poor model for fictional dialog. Fictional dialog has to seem realistic while being more purposeful than almost all actual conversation is.

There may even be a gender difference in tolerating the kind of dialog that appears in *Twilight*. Without conducting a study, how would I know? But I think it's clear that this kind of dialog is not characteristic of all female authors. Madeleine L'Engle, Anne McCaffrey, Jane Austen, C.L. Moore -- none of them wrote dialog that way. Among authors I'm familiar with it appears to be unique to Meyers. So it's possible to criticize Meyers' dialog without automatically dismissing female authors, voices and readers in general. I do thank you for bringing up Lakoff, who has some ideas worth studying for an author.

I do agree that more experienced readers are bound to be more critical, but it's not as simple as that. Kathleen loves these books, and certainly she's understands that fiction is the product of technique. I suspect it's not simple *tolerance* either, but that she's approaching the story in a different way, a way that makes what I find irritating charming. This might be a more commonly feminine approach to the story, but it's surely over-reaching to imagine all women or girls would read the story this way, or that there is *a* a style of fictional dialog which is meaningful to all women and only women.

Dr. Bob -- I am referring of course to famous 1848 incident in which R. Salanter got up in front of his congregation on Yom Kippur and ate a roll. There was a cholera outbreak and he was demonstrating that the preservation of human life outweighs any concern about ritual law (Tenzin also makes this point about Master Choseng in tQfN when he claims the master wouldn't hesitate swallow a mouse in a glass of milk to save a man's life).

How the rabbi would rule depends on the specifics of how vampirism works in your story world. Is feeding necessarily harmful to the donors (calling them "victims" begs the question)? If so what is the degree and permanency of harm? I think the case where feeding causes irreversible change (if not harm) is the most interesting one, because it restores some of the lost horror of vampirism.

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redux
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Let me see if I get this straight...

Feminine voice: rambling and emotional
Masculine voice: firm and contentious

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rcmann
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No. Man talk good. She-woman talk too much.
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Foste
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Man wield better heavy stick.

It is known.

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shimiqua
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Perhaps feminine dialog only seems like rambling to men who aren't listening.

[Smile]

One of the things I've noticed, (as you'll see in the example below,) is that women often walk around their point before making it.

Example:
I used to work at a theater, and we'd do the most amazing plays. Brilliant beautiful works of art that audiences ignored. Then we did Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. People who had never gone to the theater before came to Joseph.

Joseph doesn't have any real characterization. It doesn't take a good actor to play any of the parts. As a theater snob, I looked down on the fluffiness of Joseph. Yet what it has, simply put, is magic. The pace is quick. It's a high energy show, with catchy music, and bright flashy colors.

Twilight is the same way. People who've never read a book before read Twilight and loved it. The pace is quick. The storytelling is fun, and high energy. It has magic.

The success of Twilight probably has a lot to do with marketing, timing, and just dumb luck.

However, just like how after Joseph, our ticket numbers increased, Twilight taught a bunch of people to love to read.

One of my youngest friends read Twilight and then The Host, Heinlein's Puppet Masters, and Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness. She hasn't stopped asking me for book recommendations yet, so she might even read your book, because she read Twilight.

Nothing fluffy about that.

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redux
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shimiqua - I think you're on to something. Your comment reminded me of this article I read a while back:

http://www.norwichbulletin.com/carousel/x1406502301/Healthy-Living-Study-says-guys-naturally-cant-hear-womens-voices#axzz1xbu39wgx

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MattLeo
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Excuse me, were you saying something shimiqua?

[ June 12, 2012, 04:43 PM: Message edited by: MattLeo ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Should the founder of the Mussar movement give a Yehudi vampyr absolution? NO! That's the doom of the undead, no matter what religion they may have been while living. The whole thing about vampires is that they are damned (which, by the way, was one reason Edward Cullen didn't want to turn Bella into a vampire).

But the agony as your vampyr begins to fully comprehend his damnation MIGHT make for a kind of "literary" exploration, if not a full story, Dr. Bob.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
This might be a more commonly feminine approach to the story, but it's surely over-reaching to imagine all women or girls would read the story this way, or that there is *a* a style of fictional dialog which is meaningful to all women and only women.

Oh, I know plenty of women who detest the Twilight books. For my part, when a story is so engaging that I don't notice the meandering dialog (or other stylistic picadilloes), I am not only pleased but grateful. You see, as I have learned more and more about writing, I have had a harder and harder time finding books that will engage me so that I don't notice how they are written.

It has gotten to the point where the best thing I can say about a book any more is that I was eager to get back to it (much less being able to find ones that "I just couldn't put down").

And right now, I am at a point where I'm not reading any fiction, because everything I pick up is extremely easy to put back down and never pick up again.

(Woe is me!)

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by redux:
Let me see if I get this straight...

Feminine voice: rambling and emotional
Masculine voice: firm and contentious

I wouldn't say "rambling" so much as "ground-laying" or "scene-setting" and as extrinsic pointed out, "feminine" does not equal nor is it exclusive to "female" nor does "masculine" equal or be exclusive to "male."

I've been told before that I "think like a man" and I can say that I don't always get the "hints" that people give to me (in their "ground-laying/scene-setting" ways of talking). But I can do that ground-laying and scene-setting, too, whenever I see a need for it.

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MattLeo
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Would you write characters that were perfect representatives of what you think their gender is supposed like? Of course not, because it's not credible. You can't boil down a character to his gender; you can't even boil down a gender to gender stereotypes. A woman can be competitive and still be a woman -- feminine even. A man can be a sensitive listener and still be a man.

Well, if that's true in fiction, then how can we talk about male and female voices as if they were two completely distinct and disjoint things? Even where there is a demonstrable difference between gender populations, individual variation swamps that.

That means I can understand Jane Austen's female characters, even though I'm a man. Female authors can write believable male characters too. You start by assuming men aren't that fundamentally different from women (otherwise you're sunk from the start), but tend to have different styles. What the men want in Jane Austen isn't that different from what the women want, but they have to live with different roles and expectations.

I think the gender gap in the reception of Twilight is almost certainly sharper than the gender gap in processing language. That would mean the gap is for reasons other than men being unable to *understand* the story.

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rcmann
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This touches on another subject that might be worth its own thread. Has anyone but me noticed something about the book/magazine racks in drugstores and grocery stores lately? Even dept. stores?

I suffer from a lack of book stores in my town, so if I want to buy a book other than online, I need to browse around. But everywhere I go the assumption seems to be that the only people who read are either:

-females looking for romance novels (including sci-fi and supernatural)
-married mothers who seek advice about child rearing
-weight lifters, and folks who are fascinated with cars, weapons, and current events
-adolescent gamers

I can't find a book that appears to be geared toward the interests of a mature male to save my backside. By which I mean, a sane mystery. An adult oriented sci-fi novel. Even a supernatural novel that isn't a rewrite of Twilight or Harry Potter.

At the time it was first published, I sneered at Jurassic Park for its preachiness and half-assed distortion of science. But compared to what I see on the shelves now it is starting to look doggone good.

Sorry. No threadjack intended. Please carry on.

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Robert Nowall
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Offhand, I'd say I didn't pick it up because it seemed much like any other of these endless vampire romances of late---but that's a poor excuse for not reading something. I may be passing up something really good, for all I know. But I'll stick with "I have a lot of reading material on hand and I'll go with what interests me the most first."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As far as I'm concerned, there's absolutely no arguing with that, Robert Nowall.

It does make it hard to put up arguments about it, one way or another...hard, but not impossible...

Keep up the good work, though, guys...

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