Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Taking It Too Far

As most of you are aware, I've been reading Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series for almost two weeks now. I'm halfway through the fourth book, Breaking Dawn, and cannot get enough of them. My sleep schedule is all out of whack, I find myself comparing strangers to vampires, I've convinced myself my friend's puppy is part wolf (er... werewolf), and I can't stop talking about that damned Edward.

That said, I completely agree with what most people say about the writing quality: that it's not so good. Meyer's can't get through a page with using extreme adverbs, extensive sighing, and mucho gazing. So why am I still reading, and obsessively at that? Because she tells a good story. Her target audience is teenaged girls, and wow, does she nail that "oh my god I love him so much I can't think straight unless he's right next to me and even then I can't breathe because he's right next to me and I'll never find anyone who I love so much in my whole life" feeling that rules teens' existence. It's been fun thinking like a teenager again. (And dammit, I WON'T find anyone to love me like Edward!)

Several of my friends who've already read the series have been humoring me as I make my way through the series, teasing me with what's to come and using extreme adverbs for me. Yesterday Turkey sent me a link that has me shaking my head. In a recent interview with USA Weekend, Stephen King compared Meyer with JK Rowling, saying:

"Both Rowling and Meyer, they're speaking directly to young people... The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn. She's not very good."

Now, I'm not saying I disagree, but I don't really see the benefit to King saying something like this. He does explain a little:

"People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it's very clear that she's writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It's exciting and it's thrilling and it's not particularly threatening because it's not overtly sexual."

So while he thinks she sucks, he still understands the appeal. I have visions of Dan Brown arguments swirling through my head, and I'm wondering if any bestselling authors bashed him after The DaVinci Code. I know Mr. King is entitled to his opinion, but do you think he went too far in this interview? At one point is it okay to stop supporting your fellow writer?


auria cortes said...

If Meyers does think she's a good writer, then yeah, I think King was rude.

Heck, it hurts my feelings when I read a negative review of a book, and I'm not even the author!

Anonymous said...

Hey! We're debating this over at Kiersten's:

Jen said...

Personally, I think King toed a pretty fine line there. He was asked his opinion, and he gave an honest one, but balanced that with his understanding of her appeal.


He wasn't really rude, imo, and he is entitled to his opinion. I don't think it will change anyone's mind about Meyer's books, in any event. *smile*

Lauren said...

It just goes to show you, if you have a great story line, other stuff doesn't have to be quite as top-notch.

I agree with the interview to an extent, but perhaps it was stated a bit harsh. Then again, that is the prerogative of the critiquer.

Penguin said...

I have noticed that King and I have often agreed on things. So I think I might think like him.
Like said, he was asked his opinion and he stated it. He really didn't get down on her as a person, he stated that she has a great story but she doesn't write well.
I can understand that from both sides.

Was he honest, yes, should he have been, yes. What good does beating around the bush or worse lying do.

Turkey Lurkey said...

I believe he was too harsh. There is constructive criticism and then there is plain rude behavior. Although many of us have worked with a colleague that we didn't like, I doubt that we would have published a comment like "Mr. Smith cant work worth a darn" in the company newsletter. Evidence has proven that she has earned much more than a 'darn'. She has a particular audience, she wrote for that audience, and we might see more from her that exhibits growth as a writer. I think a discussion of her pluses and minuses would have shown King in a more professional light. IMO

Robin said...

I love and somewhat idolize Stephen King, but I think that was a crappy thing to say. Plus, writing is a bit like sanity, in that it's subjective to some extent. If Meyers has hooked both teenage girls and many a reluctant adult, who's to say her writing is so terrible? Perhaps excessive adverb use is the new holy grail of young adult fiction. The story isn't even that original. I've read a zillion vampire books.
To me, it's a little like complaining to the policeman that the crack was bad.

Nadine said...

I know if my book gets published, I will be terrified of bad reviews!

I felt King was slightly harsh, but I kind of think he is the only one that could get away with it.

spyscribbler said...

I think only King can get away with it. He has the skill, the sales, the stories to back it up.

Besides, when he takes out a full-page ad telling publishers they need to check out X author, everyone listens. Why? Because he doesn't mince words, and he's proven he wouldn't say someone was good when they aren't.

WendyCinNYC said...

I think he was a jerk for saying that, frankly. I haven't read Twilight, and maybe the writing isn't so great, but, you know, respect your fellow writer and all.

She's certainly selling a lot of books during a bleak time for the publishing industry.

He's entitled to his opinion, but he could have been nicer about it.

Zoe Winters said...

OMG I remember when I was a teenager how I felt that way about this one guy. I crushed HARD on this guy for 4 years. It was so pathetic. haha.

And also, I agree with you about Meyers. Sometimes it's not even about great writing. Which makes it hard for people who are really working hard to perfect their craft, so see someone who just doesn't seem to care about raising their technical game, on the bestseller list constantly.

Melanie Avila said...

I'm so sorry I wasn't home today to keep the conversation going! If you haven't checked out the link Aerin included, please do!

To summarize, I agree King has a right to say what he wants, he's earned the respect and people listen to his opinions, I just think he could have phrased it more constructively. Not that she is looking for writing advice from him, but having a writing 'legend' declare someone can't write is just mean.

Thanks for sharing your opinion everyone!

Janet said...

No, I don't think he went too far. Well, maybe a tad. Dissing her as a writer instead of the book itself was a bit over the line.

I would personally never do it to a novice writer just getting started, but I'm sure Meyers' royalties buttress her ego very nicely. And he did acknowledge where the appeal lay.

I'm tired of reviews that are false positives. In their refusal to say anything bad, reviewers don't give me anything I can really use to decide if I want to read it or not. So I quit paying any attention to that reviewer.

And yeah, I hated The DaVinci Code too. The only thing that got me through it was the fact my mother wanted my opinion. I think she's sorry she asked. Sure it sold gazillions, but so did Macdonald's hamburgers. Pack something with fat and salt and sell it cheap; you'll find buyers. Heck, I might even nibble occasionally. But don't expect me to rave about the quality.

I haven't read Twilight, but some thoughtful reviews have made me think any mother with a young teenaged daughter should discuss it thoroughly with her.

Melanie Avila said...

Janet, that's a wonderful point about parents talking with their parents. These books aren't too bad, but I still agree they should know what they're kids are reading.

As for DaVinci Code, I loved it. I read it before I entered the writing world so now I'm curious to look at it again, but I think I'd still like it. To each his own, I suppose.

Janet said...

I'll spare you the rant. ;o)

I will acknowledge that he is really good at pacing.

Anonymous said...

In my mind, Stephen King has reached the age and publishing credentials that he's allowed to be a curmudgeon. I don't think I'd be offended if he said my writing was no darn good. I mean, it's his opinion and he's both welcome to it and perhaps right.

Plus, I'd rather get reviews from other writers than from reviewers. Granted, it was an off-the-cuff and rather raw "review," but it's no worse than some of the other reviews I've read about the Twilight series. (Which I have not read and therefore, upon which I have no real opinion.)

Melanie Avila said...

I still stand by my opinion that he was mean. Even if he said she won't be winning any awards, or something like that, it's better than saying she can't write.

Oh well. He also admits he doesn't think he's a good writer, so maybe it was really a compliment. :)

Donna said...

Hey, the truth hurts. Yes, he was blunt about it and maybe it's something he might regret just a little in the future but he's earned his wings. Some people are going to think he's not in a position to judge. Others will say he is. It's only one opinion but the thing is, consider the source. Will Stephenie Meyer, in 30 years, be in the same position to do the same thing? Eh . . .

And I love the solitary comment on that article. Trust a Twihard to turn to the "omg he's lyk jelus" argument (and I don't mean fans of Twilight, I mean the rabid fans that resort to this kind of rebuttal against adverse opinions of those books and scratch at their necks until they bleed in order to "offer" themselves to Rob Pattinson when they meet him, those Twihards).

Right. Stephen King. THE horror icon. Been around 30 years in the publishing industry. Jealous. Ooooookaaaaaaaayyyyyyy . . .

Melanie Avila said...

LOL, well said. :)