And this is why people should never listen to my crits, ever

Dear Stephanie Meyer,

I have finished the first seven chapters of your novel Twilight and I think it has potential but needs a lot of work. On the plus side, I find your situation intriguing, and there are glimmers of decent writing throughout. On the other hand, I find your viewpoint character a bit off-putting, the voice uneven, and the action pretty much nonexistent.

I think the voice is the biggest problem for me, because I can’t tell what you’re actually trying to do with it. I know you’re writing first person from the viewpoint of a teenage girl, so the fact that she uses words incorrectly and just isn’t a very good writer might be deliberate. However, you haven’t pushed it far enough, or made it funny enough, for me to be sure that it’s being done on purpose, so it ends up feeling like a mistake. I find myself attributing the bad writing to you, the writer, not Bella, the character.

There are two things you could fix in this draft that would help me out a lot. One, is, as I mentioned, her tendency to use words incorrectly. Since she often does it with slightly fancier words, it makes her seem like she’s trying to be all adult and failing, which might be funny, but you have to have her fail a bit more spectacularly. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, that is, if it’s you, the author mis-using the words, I will try to go through and identify some specific examples.

The second thing is the speech tags. I mean, people in this book never “say” anything, they exclaim, confess, command, interrupt, press, aver. Okay, maybe they don’t aver, but you get the idea. Obviously a little bit of this is okay, but it’s distractingly frequent in this book, and frequently silly. But it’s not silly enough for me to be able to tell if I’m supposed to be laughing.

I guess the next biggest problem for me in this draft is the viewpoint character. Again, since I’m not entirely sure what you’re trying to do with the voice, I can’t tell if this character is supposed to be a bit of an unreliable narrator or not. For example, when she describes the scenery around Forks, she will actually sometimes call it “beautiful” outright and then talk about how much she hates it there. The book can’t decide what kind of metaphor the rain is, or the green light. I think you might be going for something — based on the title of the book — where the constant cloud cover makes everything like twilight, and so it’s gloomy but also mysterious, but if that’s what you’re going for, it needs to come through a little clearer.

Also, I don’t know we’re supposed to think she’s being a jerk to all the guys who aren’t Edward or Jacob, but she is. And the girls who are her “friends” too, she comes across as being really conceited toward them as well. Which makes me wonder what kind of a life she had in Phoenix, was she a total queen bee who is now trying to reform? If that’s important to the story it needs to come through more. But I also find myself wondering why we don’t find out more about her life in Phoenix. I think this book is supposed to be about how much she hates Forks compared to Phoenix, but that’s not coming through enough.

Example: you have one scene where she cooks Mexican food (by the way, you can lose all those other scenes where she cooks dinner unless she is supposed to end this book wanting to be a master chef) and she sort of muses that you probably can’t get good Mexican food in Forks, but it doesn’t have anything about her being unable to find the right ingredients at the grocery store. You see what I mean?

Oh, and, I never believe her that she’s been to Forks before. I’m not sure I entirely believe that she’s there now, the details are a little… off. I’m guessing you’ve never been there?

Another issue I have is with her whole clumsiness and fainting thing. I can’t really tell what’s going on with that. Is she supposed to be really accident-prone so that she’s always falling down because she *trips* on stuff? Or does she have some kind of inner ear issue? I mean, normal people don’t just randomly fall down throughout the day.

Huh, I suppose this requires a longer crit than I have time for. Well, good job on finishing the novel, but it’s a long way from being able to get out of the slush pile.


  1. Thanks for the review of Twilight. Did you hear Stephen King declared Meyer a terrible writer? Thought you might be interested to know

    1. Author

      I’m not surprised. Mr. King wrote a book about writing called On Writing. Ms. Meyer 1. Does everything he tells you not to do, and 2. Doesn’t do anything he tells you to do.

      1. Hmmm, it would be interesting to write a book that actually did that and see if you could get it published.

        OTOH, if you meant that literally, the idea loses some spark.

        1. Author

          Well, as Slacktivist can attest, sometimes bad writing is inexplicably popular.

          However, I still wouldn’t recommend writing badly on purpose because I don’t think you can know in advance whether your particular example of bad writing is going to be a runaway best seller, or just not get published in the first place.

  2. I’ve always wanted to read a book about a person randomly falling down all the time. Well, not really.

    1. Daniel Pinkwater is your man.

      “Of course, I didn’t know any of this that day. I didn’t know Winston Bongo had taken the fall to amuse himself — on purpose. I just thought he was a big klutz.”

      From The Snarkout Boys & the Avocado of Death.

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