Like most self respecting heterosexual males, I loathe the Twilight series with a passion. Not because it’s so girly and about some dodgy love triangle between a sparkly vampire, a school girl and a werewolf, but because I think it’s terrible. TERRIBLE. If you disagree then ask Stephen King or any other purveyor of literature. They’ll set you straight. And look on the internet… There are hundred and hundreds of websites dedicated to how terrible it is. But as a writer, it worries me. ‘What if I’m that bad???’
Ok, ok… Calm down. I’m sure i’m not that terrible… There is a way to prove I’m better than Meyer and that’s to compare me to her and see who’s better. I’m not going to bitch about the problems in Twilight (Ok… I am) or present a critical review of the book. That’s been done. I’m here to try and better myself and put my mind at ease by comparing the way I write to the way Stephanie Meyer does. If you want to read Twilight and you enjoy it then fine. I’m just going to prove to you that my stuff is infinitely better written- And please don’t go crying about how i’m a Twilight hater either, because I don’t give a shit. So let’s start with number one.
1) Book Names
Why is Twilight named Twilight? Apparently it’s something to do with one character saying that twilight is the safest time of day but that it always has to end… WHAT? That makes about as much sense as… Well, something that doesn’t make sense. And the rest… New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn… Hardly imaginative are they?
But what about mine? Let’s start with the obvious: Dark Legend. Dark Legend has been through a lot of names and it might even end up with another one before it’s fully out there because i found out there’s some vampire thing with the same name. Yeah… Figures. But anyway… It’s currently called Dark Legend because it’s about Will, a teenager who fights mutants and in the process becomes more than a bit Legendary amongst the surviving human population, even though all the legendary stuff is mostly made up rubbish. The dark bit is to do with the mutants threatening to engulf humanity in a dark and tumultuous time. Hence the cool bit at the beginning which states: WHEN DARKNESS FALLS, A LEGEND WILL RISE. That’s also seeded in other books and it appears in various places. So the title has some meaning. It’s also one character being really, really, sneaky. Then what about the imminently complete Rebels and Racists? It does what it says on the tin. It’s about Rebels (Punks) and Racists (A psychopathic slum landlord and his cronies.) See… Easy. What about another one? The Teachers Last Lesson… It’s about a PE Teacher who gets stabbed up the nose with a pencil… (Sorry… I know, I know…) There’s Under The Fuhrers Control… About Nazi spies. A title should say what the book is about.
Look at other book titles. Oliver Twist is about Oliver Twist. Harry Potter is about Harry Potter. Murder on the Orient Express is about Murder on the Orient Express. Some titles are a bit more inventive I’ll grant… From Russia With Love, for instance, or Lord of the Rings… But you can still see where the title fits in. With Twilight… Nah. It’s like me naming Dark Legend as… as… Well Twilight is such a shit title that I can’t think of one equally shit or nothing to do with the plot. I can’t even think of another book where the title has absolutely nothing to do with the plot.
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According to Wikipedia, Twilight is set in one small town in Washington State with brief bits set in other places. And judging from the God awful trailers it’s mostly forest. Apparently it is based on a real place (Ok… points for that one) and I had a look at it on Google Earth. It’s a dodgy looking, small town the likes of which have been seen countless times over in other works of American fiction. It’s the kind of place with only a road side diner, a truck stop and a load of hicks wandering around shouting racial abuse at people in a hillbilly accent… You get the picture I’m sure. I suppose the British equivalent would be… Runcorn? (Seriously… Who’d write four books set in Runcorn?)
In contrast, let’s take four of my works… Let’s take Dark Legend and Rebels because they’ll be first up and the most complete… And then lets go with the first two Morfasson books, chronologically. Dark Legend primarily takes place in modern Worton, a run down industrial town in the Trough of Bowland (North of England.) However, in the story we see almost all of the town (which has an area of about 20 square miles) PLUS the outlying regions and a completely ruined version before towards the end of the story the setting moves between Dewsbury and North Wales. As for Rebels (which takes place in 1977), that starts in Bethesda (North Wales) goes round the area for a bit (including a visit to a real record shop in Porthmadog!) and then splits off to London, York, Jersey City (briefly) and various areas of Manhattan (Little Italy, Midtown, Central Park and Harlem… With a few other bits in between.) As for the first two Morfasson books, they take us to various places between 1938 and 1959… Including Worton (briefly and less of a hell hole than the future one,) Vienna, Paris, Edinburgh, various locations in the Pyrynees and a few brief stop overs in Northern France.
So to count… In four stories Meyer has one location in the modern era and I have fifteen+ across about seventy years… And that’s with only counting one Worton… The 1959 version is really different to the modern one (being more industrialised!) You also have countless other locations in my other work… Keep in mind that every last one of my works, no matter what happens/ how crazy things get, is set in the same universe. Anything is possible with the exception of the supernatural/magic and everything that is weird has at least some scientific grounding. So yeah… That’s some inventive setting right there.
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So I’m not exactly the romantic kind… My last girlfriend accused me of being weird when she herself was, shall we say, a little bit ‘eccentric.’ But never mind that. A good part of any story is the coming together of two people and them getting to know each other. My own writing is filled with one night stands, near misses, man whores and sexual deviants… And occasionally a few people who find true love. I never make it easy though… And yeah… Ok… I may not be the best writer when it comes to romantic entanglements but I am improving. My early work was filled with people just meeting, gazing into each others eyes, having random sex (Sometimes in a room full of people who inexplicably never noticed what was going on) and running off by themselves whilst the result was always baby nine months later… That lot doesn’t happen anymore. It wasn’t realistic. I’m now more experienced when it comes to sexual liaisons and I have a bit of fun with the characters sex lives first before they settle down… And nothing is ever as simple as just ‘falling in love.’
Using this model I can safely conclude that Stephanie Meyer must be a virgin… Ok according to Wikipedia she has children so that isn’t true… But Twilight is all about romance and it’s just the worst possible kind of romance, if you can even call it that. From what I can gather some characterless bimbo falls hopelessly in love with a sparkly vampire (more on the sparkling later) and then essentially becomes his adoring puppet/stalker victim for the rest of the series… The relationship is abusive to the extreme…. Plus, as far as I can make out, this relationship hardly develops and what little sex there is can probably be defined as rape.
So that’s another one to me I think!
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4) Writing Style
This was a really difficult one to ascertain. Especially with my own writing. I have been told, in the past, that I have a good writing style and that my sentences always seem to be the perfect length (really?). But as for the way I see it, I have a very simplistic, old fashioned style. I’ve also borrowed a few tropes from other writers. I’ve borrowed a bit from P.G Wodehouse in the matter of description. He uses unusual words to describe speech… like trousered. I’ve not gone that bad but I’ve found a few interesting ones of my own like Sliced and Twinkled and Sparkled. Look out for them.
And also, the full unadulterated Dark Legend will contain all sorts of bits and pieces to make it a bit more like Dracula… I’ll come to that in the next part.
As for Meyer… From what I looked up, her sentence structure is all over the place. She consistently uses big, outdated words where it’s not necessary (big outdated words are fine in certain places.) Her written style is absolutely terrible, like a five year old. Apparently she has a BA in English as well, which somehow makes it even worse. I’m sure there is no need for me to explain further. I may not have a BA in English but at least I don’t write like a child… So neh neh neh neh neh (Blows raspberry!)
5) Inspiration and Development
Apparently the idea for Twilight came to Meyer in a dream. That is no way to have an idea for a book. Books and stories have to be developed and worked over time. Not just hammered out from one bad idea. When I start writing I always have a rough idea for the whole plot and how things are going to work out. Inevitably it develops and improves as I get more ideas and I replace or don’t use old ones that were bad to begin with or don’t work. I also read somewhere that the main character was inspired by Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice… Can’t see it though… Apparently Elizabeth Bennet had a personality.
Meanwhile…The first Morfasson Saga book (chronologically) was inspired by a TV series about POW’s and it developed from there. The second was inspired by Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile and got transfered to Vienna before it developed further. What I’m saying is these stories became more than the sum of their inspiration.
A good way of describing Rebels for instance would be TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD MEETS THE GODFATHER and I’ve been conscious of that throughout so I’ve seeded little bits in there that hark back. There’s a trial scene and a bit in Little Italy with a Mafia don. There’s even a nod to the likes of 1984, Lord of the Flies and even a jokey Harry Potter reference. (Theres a HP reference in all my work by the way… Some explicit, some subtle.)
And Dark Legend? Well… That was partially inspired by chavism and modern youth culture and then there were all sorts of small bits from Doctor Who, Star Trek, Stargate and a whole lot of other sci-fi things that went in there to enhance the story. The style of the novelization (The full complete version…) is supposed to mimic Dracula and each chapter is told in a slightly different way. Like how some chapters in Dracula are letters. I just stole this idea and updated it to an email. There’s even diary entries, police reports, newspaper cuttings… A YouTube video transcript… It’s all in there. From it’s beginnings, Dark Legend has developed greatly. Between then and now you’d hardly recognise it.
What I’m essentially saying is my stuff eventually developed more story, more plot and character from what they were inspired by. Meyer’s don’t seem to have done that.
The characters in Twilight are two dimensional, lack depth and don’t really develop at all throughout the book. My characters, on the other hand, grow up and mature as the story progresses (Otto in Rebels,) Learn respect, trust and the value of friendship (Will in Dark Legend) or go from being a bumbling fool to tragically falling into a pit of despair (Randy, again in Dark Legend.) All of my characters are fundamentally different by the end of the story than when it started. The characters don’t stay the same. They develop and mature like a fine wine as the story progresses. Almost every character serves some sort of a purpose. Even if it’s just to get someone from place A to Place B. The only ones that don’t are just background characters… There is a hobo under a bridge in Rebels who just shouts ‘Piss off you English Dicks.’ That’s it. This development is what separates good characters from bad.
So my characters develop… Meyer’s don’t. And mine have personality as well, whilst i’m thinking about it. Plus mine aren’t just a single stereotype.
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7) Book Covers
Look at the cover for Twilight… It’s very dull. They say never judge a book by its cover and whoever designed that cover clearly believed this. Twilight has one very shit cover. Someone holding an Apple? I mean come on… It has nothing to do with the book from what I can see. But apparently it does have meaning… It’s Eve’s Apple from the Garden of Eden according to Meyer… Which makes about as much sense as naming the book Twilight.
Ok… Here are some of my draft covers:
See… All of those actually mean something to the book. That Teachers Last Lesson one is a murder story, like I said before ,and as you can see, the whole thing is packed with school symbolism… like the blood stained notebook and the pen. The cards, as well, have a significance to the plot. As for the other two… Well one is the (original) cover for the Dark Legend Novel. It used to be for something else but i thought it better for Dark Legend because I felt it had an epic, cool quality to it. And the other one? That’s for something that won’t come out for a long while but again, it fits in with the story.
I spent time constructing these. They’re complex and they have some depth. I think they’re more intriguing. When I was a kid I used to spend hours looking at book covers just to see what I could see and to some extent I still do. I judge being able to do this as the sign of a good cover. You can’t do that with Twilight. With these you can.
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Ahhh… Realism. It’s what makes the world go around. I try and ground everything in at least some basis of reality. Cythry, family seat of the Morfassons may be in a fictional valley but if you follow the directions in the book you will find yourself in a very similar place. And lets not forget that Rebels is set in 1977… And in Harlem. Two places which I have never been. The temptation would have been to make it all up but these days there is no excuse for that. So I’ve been writing by using a combination of Wikipedia, Google Street View, Google Maps and an outdated New York Guidebook… So far I think that it’s worked.
And lets not forget there is a huge battle at the end of Dark Legend… And before I wrote it I stood on both sides of the battle field analysing, evaluating, calculating and making notes concerning movements and how the battle progressed. Everything that happens in that battle is more or less realistic and it absolutely could happen like that, right down to all the explosions, fires and the rather deadly twist I placed in there. If there were ever a real battle in that place it could potentially happen like I describe.
As for Meyer… She has stated she knows nothing about vampires… Wha??? No wonder they bloody sparkle. I mean… When have you ever seen a vampire sparkle? They don’t. Vampire law states that vampires are evil, bloodthirsty killers with fangs and who burn in sunlight… Not fucking sparkle. You want real vampires? Go read Dracula or Interview with a Vampire or watch Underworld or Being Human for Christ’s sake. Even True Blood (which I’ll admit isn’t my kind of thing) has better vampires. The point to writing anything, as I have stated before is RESEARCH!!!
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So the final score is 0-8 to me. Wow… I never expected I was that good. Kind of gives me a warm feeling inside. But there is no point in gloating really. The true challenge comes with from people and not from me just claiming to better. If my books turn out to be more popular than Twilight then and only then will I be able to gloat. At least we know though, even if my stuff is less popular, that I have the better grasp of how to actually write. And there really is no point in bitching about how bad Twilight is. It’ll all be just a thing that happened in a few years time. Even the obsessiveness of the fans may never even make it into the history books…
Anyway. I’ve got a bigger contender to deal with… She’s already got seven books, eight films a theme park and a studio tour under her belt… I’m gonna go to war with J.K Rowling… Now that’s a fight!
*Note from future James: Rebels really isn’t the best example of my work. It’s riddled with all sorts of problems, from character to setting to problems concerning romance… It’s still better than Twilight though.