What Can We Learn from Writer Stephenie Meyer?
Though critical responses to her writing may be mixed, Stephenie Meyer has built the kind of devoted fan base other writers only dream of. Comments on earlier blog posts, on her next book and the Twilight movie, keep flowing in: "Stephenie Meyer has perfected my life," writes one reader. "I absolutely LOVED the books. I read them all in less than a week," writes another.
For this reason, it's worthwhile to study what she does that works so well with her readers. Not that there aren't critical responses, too, but she's doing something really, really well. What can we learn from Stephenie Meyer in writing our own books?
Attention to Plot
As a reader named Rose commented, "She does a good job of hooking the reader and pulling you in. Even people I know who don’t like the books found themselves plowing through the pages." How does Stephenie Meyer make this happen?
Kristy wrote that "The character of Bella is enough of a Mary-Sue that anyone can fill in the blanks of her personality and feel that they relate to her," but maybe it's how Bella feels that people really relate to. Who doesn't long to feel special? And who hasn't experienced frustrated love?
Though many writers dismiss young adult literature, the fact is, young people buy books. We're in a "golden age of young adult literature," as Michael Cart of Booklist put it to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Even as sales in other genres began to stagnate, even before the recession, young adult literature sales boomed. It's a lesson to contemporary writers and one that can't hurt young adult literature. Don't dismiss the YA crowd. If you want to publish and sell books, this is a good way to go right now.
As many fans have pointed out, Twilight is excellent escapist fiction. How does Meyers pull that off? By creating a viable world for readers to escape into. The writing is full of descriptions of Forks and the Pacific Northwest. In her hands, the setting becomes the ideal atmosphere for a vampire novel: dark, foggy, wooded, and a little unpredictable. She turns her setting into one of the primary characters of the novel.
As a reader named Jane points out, Meyer's writing also offers lessons in what not to do. "Stephenie over-describes everything," she writes. "She uses purple prose, she uses the same words multiple times, and her writing sags and gets dull at times." All of these things are true at times. Her books depend on suspense and romantic tension to keep readers engaged. It's not highly literary prose, and nor is it supposed to be. But in noting places where the writing or the pacing slackens, we learn important lessons about writing. Which brings us to the ultimate lesson in all of this. Whether you're reading highbrow or low, there are always things to be learned.