So, now that I’ve quite thoroughly decimated and picked apart the books, what did I like? What, as a writer, does Meyer do better than me?
Romance. There is no denying that she can write about love and physical attraction in a way that can get a reader’s heart racing (at least a woman’s; men may be immune). In fact, while reading the books, I went back to my second book and started writing in more scenes between Anselm and Kalyn. Or, to be a little more specific, I took a scene that I already had planned and pushed it out further so that I had more time for Anselm and Kalyn to be together. They’re not always in a romantic situation—considering one scene takes place while Kalyn is suffering from a concussion and broken ribs—but they are scenes of comfortable companionship, at least. I had a Point A, where Kalyn and Anselm start out, knowing each other only from a distance, and I go to a Point B, where they draw closer because of everything that happens between them, and then I had Point D, where I foresaw them consummating their relationship. What I didn’t have was a Point C, where they develop a comfortable companionship that makes Point D seem like a natural progression of their relationship.
Meyer also looks at vampires as redeemable creatures, capable of being something other than mindless predators. I think Edward’s old-fashioned courtesy, coupled with the entire Cullen Clan’s propensity to be moral, is just as attractive to the readers (which, again, are mostly women) as his element of danger. This is a thought I’ve had for a while, and one of the reasons why I too went with a moral vampire. I think people are tired of monstrous vampires. Not to mention Meyer’s books stay pretty wholesome—wholesome enough for teenagers and the entire adult population (one of the reasons why she gets a wider readership than, say, Laurell K. Hamilton). Of course, there’s a market for some immoral, sex-crazed vampires, but there’s a bigger market for vampires who fulfill the fantasies of your average woman—great sex within the confines of monogamy—specifically marriage.
I also mentioned the other day that Meyer does an excellent job of eliciting emotional responses from her readers. Her number one talent is romance, but she also creates heartbreaking empathy. In the second book, when Edward leaves Bella, that is powerfully written. And her blank pages ticking off the months illustrate better than anything else how empty and useless Bella’s life has become. In fact, I thought that technique was so brilliant, I pointed it out to my husband. It reminded me of a biography of Teddy Roosevelt, who lost his wife and mother on the same day. In his diary he merely made a large “X” and wrote “the light has gone out of my life.” Then he didn’t write in it again for a while.
The other tear-jerking part is when Bella discovers, in the fourth book, that Alice has sent her to get false papers, and there is only one conclusion that can be drawn: Jacob and Renesmee will need false papers if they are to escape the Volturi—and that everyone else must fight to the death to take as many Volturi with them as possible to give Jacob and Renesmee a fighting chance at survival. Bella has to live with the knowledge that everyone is about to die—including Edward. That part was so hard to read that I had to put the book down and watch a movie to brace myself up for the inevitable ending. Imagine my relief when it didn’t happen! I was afraid I was going to end up bawling and then feeling depressed for a day or two afterwards.
That is good writing.