Monday, February 16, 2009

Stephenie Meyer vs. Stephen King

I recently read an article featuring Stephen King and his opinion about Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight series. Upon being asked what he thinks about the recent success of both Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling, he is quoted as saying, "The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn." Unfortunately, the article did not detail any explanation he may have had for these words, so I can't say whether I would agree with him.

I am more than ready to admit that Stephenie Meyer's writing isn't exactly Pulitzer material. However, I would hesitate to say that she can't write at all. In my humble opinion, she captures teen insecurities and awkwardness quite well and her metaphorical language evokes wonderful imagery. Her characters are reasonably realistic, their personal flaws adding dimension to the overall story.

When I first started reading the Twilight series (back before it was an outrageous teen best seller), I remember being inspired by her ability to take a phenomenally ancient legend and reinvent it in surprising and sometimes beautiful ways. I had been feeling rather hopeless in my efforts to do the same with another ancient legendary creature and felt renewed upon reading her books.

Mr. King goes on to say that Stephenie Meyer's writing was attractive to fans (especially young girls) because she was able to connect love and sex in a safe way. Whether he meant that as a compliment or another dismissive comment on her talent, I'm not sure. I, myself, am glad for her sensitivity with such an intimate subject. The fact Edward insists that he and Bella get married before involving themselves in such a sacred act only endears me to the stories all the more. Mr. King in his own writing, however, has no shame in detailing explicit and, in some cases, disgusting episodes of private behavior.

Mrs. Meyer treats the relationships of the characters in her stories with the respect that "real" people would deserve.

While both Mr. King and Mrs. Meyer are now well-recognized authors in their own rights, I have actually read more from the latter than the former. The fact that she, so far, has only written five books says something for my respect and enjoyment of her abilities.


freddigurl5 said...

I would have to agree with you 100%. I have never been a fan of "Mr. King" because of his subject matter. I appreciate Stephanie Meyers for reinventing vampires as well. The fact is, I don't mind my teenagers reading this because of how sexuality,love and life in general is treated with reverence. I also have to say that I just realized that you are writing a activity days blog and I'm so impressed. You always did have great ideas for my kids. This is obviously a talent of yours. Working in Primary for so many years, I can appreciate good ideas. Our primary presidency is in the middle of planning our yearly activities and some of these would be great (with a little modification for boys and younger children). Thanks!

Monique said...

Honestly I would think that King could at least recognize that she gets the whole relationship and emotive part of developing a character ands story... thats one thing I enjoy about King (I'd read more of his for that alone if I knew I could survive the dark alone at night ;)

But I think I get what he is saying... in general

Anonymous said...

Well, you know my feelings on Meyer...But I don't have a very high opinion of King either. I think Meyer can create an extremely vivid picture in your mind, but I don't think that makes up for how she altered her characters, and had a crappy ending for her series. Is her stuff excellent writing? No. Is it fluff? Yes. Is it fun to read? Mostly. I haven't read King, but then gain, I value my sanity. I am scared of my own shadow.

Trillium said...

With all due respect, I think Mr. King must be an evil person. I don't think anyone can portray evil as vividly as he does without being intimately acquainted with it. 'Nothing comes from nothing' (to quote a Sound of Music lyric). Creating evil characters and stories can only come from an evil source. And, while I am not a fan of Mrs. Meyers books, I think Mr. King is angry that Meyers' moral characters were a hit with young adult readers.

Rebecca said...

Well, I think mom hit the nail on the head. I have read some of King's books and have decided that he is evil. You can't produce such horrific scenes without personal knowledge of them. Evil begets evil.

I also agree that Myers writes fluff - however, I enjoyed reading her books and read all four in ten days... :)

She captured teenage behaviour rather well and I liked her character development. It was a lot of fun for me.

DebbieLou said...

I've never read a book by Mr. King, due to his portrayal of grim subject matters, but I have read a few books that used a quote or two of his in which he seeks to give advice to beginning writers. If my memory serves me right, he makes it quite clear that he has a huge problem with the use of too many adjectives. (He thinks more should be left to the reader's immagination.) He also feels that repetetive word choice is a bland and an ineffecient use of writing space and vocabulary.

Although I don't completely agree with Stephen Kings' first sentiments, I have to admit he makes a huge case with the latter. Personally, I found Meyers books annoyingly riddled with the over use of certain words, mostly adjectives, with which she describes some of her characters. (Such as her redundandt use of "feline like" to describe James' revenge seeking girl friend.)

Additionally, I found a few passages in Mrs. Meyers books to be a little bumpy for me to get through, with the occational run on sentence from you know where. Stephanie also constantly starts many of her sentences with "and", which, unless rules have changed since I last attended school, is a big no-no. (Though this doesn't really bother me, I can see why some other writers might take issue with this practice, especially those of the older generation in whom this rule was heavely ingrained.)

Lastly, although the series is relatively clean when compared to most novels read by the majority of teens these days, I do have a problem with Bella's character, in that that her morally spotless relationship with Edward is not of her choice. Being a LDS author, I would have thought that Meyers' heroine, and teen idol, would embrace a more virtuous stance. (Edward's efforts to remain morally clean also appear to stem more out his fear of loosing control and killing Bella, rather than a desire to be morally clean, at least until the third instalment clarifies his true righteous desires.)

A part from all of that, my personal oppinion of the Twilight series (books 1-3 so far) has been a fairly pleasant one. I agree that Meyers is creative, and has a talent of captivating the essance of the teenage audience. Therefore, I would have to conjecture that Mr. King's negative view mostly stems from a difference of personal taste, vision, and artistic license.

DebbieLou said...

Oh yeah, Stephanie also underestimates the intellegence of her audience, by dragging the obvious out way too long. (ie...the fact that Jacob is a werewolf)


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