Okay, I lied. I completely forgot to post my analysis of Steph’s writing style. That was supposed to be Part 2, but it must have gotten lost amidst preparations for the upcoming family reunion, and everything that implicates. So characterization will have to wait until Monday, which is rather convenient, because I have a lot to say about that topic, and it just seems to work better if I can keep all that over the course of one week. Anyway, here’s the review of Steph’s style.
I am fairly certain Steph is a teacher. All her sentences sound like they were copied out of a middle school grammar textbook. While I have nothing against grammatically correct sentences, they often come at the cost of something even more important: flow. Most middle school grammar textbook sentences lacked flow, and that was part of the reason they sounded dumb. Or else, of course, they did flow, but that only made them sound worse. Consider that the story begins with this sentence: “My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down.” While it flows very well, the prepositional phrase is completely irrelevant. Why should we care the windows were rolled down?
The dialogue is even worse, for the same reasons. Consider the following sentence:
“We must head them off at the pass!” Tom said swiftly.
Compare that to this:
“We must head them off at the pass!” said Tom swiftly.
I challenge anyone reading Twilight to find an example of either of this in any of the books. Seriously. Every piece of dialogue is almost exactly like the first example. Now, it may not seem like a big difference, but add in about five or six additional replies from other characters, who are all named, and if there isn’t any diversity, it gets old fast. (And dialogue that doesn’t include identifying the speaker doesn’t count – I’m talking about all the “he said” “said she” parts of the dialogue. Fortunately, Steph didn’t add those to everything anyone said.) While reading, the dialogue had been just grating on me. It felt dumb. It wasn’t until I came to Chapter 22 when I realized how bland it was – just due to this issue.
Also, based on the word choice, I would not have known this was meant for pre-teens. There were multiple occasions, spaced about every fifty pages or so, when someone would use a word that just felt out of place – generally because it was such high vocabulary. If you’re writing a book that uses words a 12th grade AP Lit. graduate doesn’t understand, you’ve got problems. It’s stuff like this that has me convinced Steph is a teacher. Additionally, quite a few words didn’t fit their connotation. Consider this sentence: “He shook his head indulgently” (pg. 273). Yes, I understand (sorta) what she’s trying to say here, but it still confuses me.
But not only is the word choice bad – the subject choice is too. During many parts of the story, Steph devolved into a diary mode, mentioning the petty things that happened to Bella in school, which usually had little relevance on the plot. One thing a writer must never state is, “The rest of the week was uneventful” (pg 37), especially when the writer goes into detail about that week immediately afterward. This section of the story had several paragraphs and sentences that were not conducive to the plot and would have been better left unmentioned, like how her gym class or Trig class went. Granted, Harry Potter often had swaths of text on how his school year was going – but we actually cared there. Partially because he wasn’t necessarily very good at his school work. The reason I never cared for Bella’s Trig class was because it was seldom mentioned, and she was depicted as doing outstanding in school. Like it was a breeze for her. Furthermore, whenever a specific class was mentioned in Harry Potter, what he learned that day had some relevance to the plot. In Twilight, classes are at best used as a meeting ground between a couple characters, like Bella and Edward, or Bella and Jessica, or Bella and Mike.
I would like to state that there is no “Preface” in this book. According to the dictionary, a preface is “a preliminary statement in a book by the book’s author or editor, setting forth its purpose and scope, expressing acknowledgment of assistance from others, etc.” The page entitled “Preface” is a teaser. It contains a passage about Bella standing opposite some “hunter” (presumably a vampire) about to kill her, while she reflects how she doesn’t want to die this way, but she feels it is worth it.
This scene never takes place in the main story. There is never any situation that even suggests something like the “preface” occurs. Perhaps it is intended to be a scene from a later book in the series, but then I would ask why it was included in the wrong book.
But it’s not just the “preface” that has title issues. The chapter names are equally bad. They either mention something only briefly discussed in the chapter (Carlisle is only mentioned in the very beginning of Chp. 16), or else is a phrase or word used by one of the characters in a conversation (Mind over Matter, Impasse, Open Book, etc.). Other chapters give a very vague concept of what is included in them (Invitations, Complications). Only a few actually give a good idea of what will happen in the chapter, like The Cullens. Meyer seems to have taken a leaf out of JK Rowling’s books with the special letter fonts, but she seems to have missed the more important leaves about good chapter titles. Consider the following: “Diagon Alley”, “The Potions Master”, “Quidditch”, “The Man with Two Faces”. Each quickly describes precisely what will happen in each chapter, without spoiling the plot.