Twilight: A Follow-Up, and a Promise

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After sound rebukes from those who commented on my previous article (Twilight Sucks… And Not In A Good Way), like ‘Sydnie’ and ‘Kalo’, who wrote, “All of your opinions are completely FALSE!” and “YOU JUST THINK TOO MUCH JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE !” respectively, I decided to listen to those like ‘Melissa’ who demanded that I “write a bookseries[sic] that is that popular and, in [their] opinion, genious[sic]” before earning the privilege to criticize Stephenie Meyer’s dismal oeuvre.

You know what? They’re right. What right do I have to dislike a published novel? How dare I exercise my 1st Amendment rights and express my opinion about the Twilight series without also having sold 1.3 million books in a single day?

And what about all of those who agree with me? They aren’t allowed to dislike the books either if their own work hasn’t yet spawned “millions” of fan-sites.

I decided that it was only right for me (as the author of the original article) to try and help out all those people who would love to engage in literary criticism but don’t yet have that right to freedom of thought. So, here it is:

How to Write a Bestseller Just Like Twilight:

1. Abuse the thesaurus (correct word usage optional; purple prose is a must). If you want to ‘spice up’ your writing so that it sounds just like Meyer’s, a handy thesaurus is key. Then you too can write glorious and dazzling (and dazzlingly glorious) passages like the following:

He lay perfectly still in the grass, his shirt open over his sculpted, incandescent chest, his scintillating arms bare. His glistening, pale lavender lids were shut, though of course he didn’t sleep. A perfect statue, carved in some unknown stone, smooth like marble, glittering like crystal.

If you do not have at least three modifiers* for every noun, you’re doing it wrong. Some authors like George Orwell (1984, Animal Farm) have rules like “Never use a long word where a short one will do” and “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out”, but since Stephenie Meyer is apparently the golden standard for writing young adult literature these days, it’s probably best to ignore Orwell and follow her example instead.

* Bonus points if you use the same modifier multiple times in close proximity of one another. Good examples of words to use this way include “chagrin”, “murmured”, and “chuckled”.

2. Do not research. It is not necessary to waste time getting biology facts, cultural lore, or cultural history correct. For example, if you choose to set your novel in a real-life place, don’t bother visiting it. If you incorporate the ideas of another culture, such as that of the Sioux Native Americans, absolutely do not speak to any Sioux elders or Sioux scholars-as the author, you have no responsibility to accurately portray anything. Instead, take what history you can find out on the Internet and feel free to bastardize their cultural lore so that it fits into your story. Also, if you decide to use science to explain some of your fantasy elements, don’t bother making it logically or factually sound.

3. Do not give your characters personalities. Instead, make sure that your female lead is as perfect as possible (but don’t forget to give her a contrived sense of humility). Obviously she must be pretty and smart, but don’t bother giving examples of her intelligence; all you have to do to tie up that loose end is mention bad interpretations of classic literature. To make sure that she isn’t TOO perfect, she needs a flaw. This is where it gets tricky; if you give her a true flaw, like hubris, she is less appealing. Therefore, use a “flaw” like clumsiness so that a) she is endearingly klutzy (allowing socially awkward young girls to put themselves in her shoes) and b) you have a great deus ex machina that allows your male lead* to swoop in and save the heroine from impaling** herself on a pencil after an attempt at a magic trick.

* It is sometimes helpful to give your female heroine an Electra complex, as this further romanticizes the idea of the male hero carrying her around, watching her as she sleeps, being 100+ years older than her, etc., etc.

** It is important to note that the heroine should not have to sacrifice anything besides her ambition. If you think she SHOULD sacrifice something, make sure that she’s only giving up her family and friends so that the she can devote her entire life and purpose of being to the hero. She should NOT have any kind of hobbies, interests, etc. outside of the hero, and if he leaves her she should become suicidal.

That brings me to the male lead. While it’s a given that he must be a perfect physical specimen, be careful not to give him any actual identifying characteristics because this will reduce your reader’s ability to superimpose the image of her own ‘perfect man’ over the hollow shell of your character. As for personal traits, it’s extremely effective to write him as a caricature of the Byronic hero. Your hero should be brooding, pseudo-dangerous, and have a deep, dark secret to cement his status as a sexy ‘bad boy’. Additionally, he must be extremely wealthy, drive fast cars, and enjoy watching the heroine sleep unawares.

4. Ensure that your heroine and hero’s relationship is abusive. An effective way to do this is to make sure that your male hero fulfills several of the requirements for relational abuse. A good definition of that is this one, from Wikipedia:

Abusive relationships are often characterized by jealousy, emotional withholding, lack of intimacy, infidelity, sexual coercion, verbal abuse, broken promises, physical violence, control games and power plays.

Personally, I recommend using jealousy, lack of intimacy, sexual coercion, broken promises, and controlling behavior because those are all quite easy to justify; all the hero must do is claim that he acts out of his desire to protect the heroine from danger because of his overwhelming love for her. Additionally, if there is another possible romantic interest for the heroine outside of the hero, isolating the heroine from him is a particularly effective method for the hero to use. One example might be siphoning the gasoline from the heroine’s moped to prevent her from leaving her house.

It is especially important to note that the heroine must not find fault in the hero for his abusive actions, as that would make him much less appealing. Instead, she should excuse his behavior by saying “he just loves me” and then continue to submit to his will.

If you’re worried that this might send a bad message to young, hormonal teenagers struggling through their own romantic relationships, don’t be. After all, as Heather says, “This is a BOOK a FICTIONOUS BOOK”, and no one has ever been influenced by a work of fiction in the history of the world, ever. Not even people back in the 1800s who read books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In the same way that people are not influenced by advertising or by peer pressure, reading novels does not have the least bit influence on anyone, least of all teenagers whose brains haven’t finished developing.

5. There should be no plot. Even though you may think that rising action, climax, falling action, and character development are important in a novel, they’re not. Instead, focus on the perfection of the male hero. If your editor forces you to write a plot, make sure it’s just another opportunity for the hero to save the heroine.

6. Profit!

Well, there you have it! I hope this helps those of you hoping to write your own ‘Twilight’. And to those of you who were concerned over my literary critique of the series, I promise to follow the steps above before I even think about publicly disliking something again in the future.

Read my thoughts on Midnight Sun here.

Read my review of the movie!