This post was originally published in November 2011.
Saying that the Twilight books are a polarizing series is an understatement. As much as Joe enjoyed the books, I can't stand them. (Full disclosure: I haven't read them. However, I've read enough excerpts from Reasoning With Vampires to feel like I can speak with at least a little bit of confidence.)
I'm just going to say it. Stephenie Meyer is not a good writer. Cue the defensive comments below.
Three Reasons Twilight Isn't Well Written
I'm not talking about her storytelling. Like I said, I haven't read the books. I don't know how Stephenie (good lord, all those e's) puts together her paragraphs to form a cohesive narrative. I've only read excerpts. But you know what? You don't need to know the storyline to critique poor sentence structure.
Here are my three arguments against Twilight.
1. Misused Semicolons
Stephenie writes some weird sentences. And I don't mean in the sense of, “Oh, Bella is experiencing vampires for the first time; obviously things are a little weird.” I'm talking about sentences that are like runaway trains that can't be stopped, with semicolons as period placeholders. No, Stephenie. Finish the thought and be done with it already.
The dark road was the hardest part; the bright lights at the airport in Florence made it easier, as did the chance to brush my teeth and change into clean clothes; Alice bought Edward new clothes, too, and he left the dark cloak on a pile of trash in an alley.
Don't get me wrong; you know I love a well-placed semicolon. These are not well-placed semicolons. The smattering of commas thrown in for good measure does not help. Periods are good, everyone. Periods are your friends.
2. Strange Use of Commas
And then there are things like this.
“Stop!” I shrieked, my voice echoing in the silence, jumping forward to put myself between them.
Anyone else think the visual of Bella's voice leaping from her throat to break up a fight is amusing? It's okay if you chuckled; I did. There are better ways to write this sentence that keep Bella's vocal chords comfortably in her throat where they belong.
3. Violation of Verb Tense Agreement
Finally, I present a violation of the most basic verb tense agreement rule.
I couldn't decide if his face was beautiful or not. I suppose the features were perfect.
First of all, gag me with a spoon. Secondly, who let that present-tense verb (suppose) out past its bedtime? Narrative verb tense needs to be consistent. If you're in the past tense, stay in the past tense (with the exception of dialogue).
I will say this about Twilight: it gets people reading. For that, I will commend it. That's about all the praise it's getting from me.
Do you have a case against Twilight? Share your case in the comments below.
Well, since we've had our own rant today, why don't you present your own case against about something you find particularly annoying. It could be about Twilight or rap music or bad drivers. Just let ‘er rip.
Write for fifteen minutes, and then post your sparkly practice in the comments so we can watch the fireworks.
Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.