The home page for author Eric J. Juneau

Daily Farland’s David Kick

I subscribe to David Farland’s Daily Kick, which is not so daily or kicky. It’s basically a mailing list for writing tips blog. I can’t remember how I first heard of this — I’ve never read any of his books — but sometimes it has good articles, like how to sell to new markets and things people miss when writing female characters. But lately, there are two trends that have really been bothering me. Things that are making me think about unsubscribing.

One is probably due to what’s on his mind — eBooks. He’s written a lot about the failings of the paper industry and the advent of the eBook (some of which I’ve written about, citing his content). Granted, some of it’s exciting. But he’s also fond of the topic because he’s created his own eBook company. And its first publication is a book he wrote.

Of course it’s in his best interest to promote the future of eBooks — his company sells them! I understand that eBooks are awesome, but I’m still learning how to put scenes together. He’s writing about post-modernism and fine art and stress diagrams — things that are way beyond me and beyond the act of putting words on paper (or a screen that looks like paper). It’s nice to put this kind of thing in the back of my head, but it doesn’t help me get an agent.

The other is that he’s constantly praising Stephenie Meyer (writer of the Twilight books), but never seems to say why. Guess what? He was Meyer’s writing instructor in college. He says he remembers considering her final grade and thinking, quote: “This young woman has a very interesting and unique voice. If she ever really gets consumed by a tale, she could go very, very far.”

In another e-mail, he talks about how all authors are disdainful of others’ work. Case in point: Stephen King’s famous quote “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.” Farland says King doesn’t understand because Meyer isn’t writing for people like him. Her themes of teen love and sex are why Twilight is reaching so many people (you’ll note that he doesn’t say that Bella makes all the wrong decisions regarding those issues — being manipulative, emotionally blackmailing people, and being an all-around monster. She’s like a housewife of Orange County.)

Let me tell you, I’ve never read the Twilight books, but I’ve read a lot of analyses of them, with intelligent arguments by critics I respect. There are a lot of theses that tear down her writing, but I haven’t found any that praise it. And frankly, from the passages that have been cited, I don’t see how you could. And I’ll stop here before I get into a Twilight rant — I wouldn’t be saying anything that other, better people have already said.

So I find myself getting sick of Farland pushing his own agenda. I’m sure he’s a good writer. I’m sure he’s terribly good at what he does. I’m sure he’s a master storyteller. He’s treating writing as more of a business instead of an art. Which is fine — it is partially a business. But he seems to be advising you to be like Meyer, and look at how much people hate her. I’d rather not leave that kind of legacy.

Things You Should Know About: MarzGurl Picks Apart Twilight

marzgurl anime

MarzGurl is one of the Channel Awesome (A.K.A. Doug Walker’s That Guy With the Glasses) vloggers. She specializes in anime and the works of Don Bluth, which are a lot more comprehensive than I thought.  Plust she looked smoking hot as Princess Mononoke in Suburban Knights.  Channel Awesome’s more known for their videos, but right now MarzGurl is doing something I think is fairly important.

She’s examining Twilight, the book, as she reads it. She was curious what all the fuss was about, as any good geek should do, and is posting a literary analysis as she goes on.

I’m really impressed with the level of detail. She’s looking at exactly what is wrong chapter by chapter, specializing in Stephanie Meyer the writer and Bella the character. And it’s not just good because Twilight deserves to be bashed (and if you don’t believe me, click the link).  It’s good for writers. It shows the level of detail you need to go into when making a novel, unless you want to reveal yourself as an incompetent fraud.

For example, in the first few pages, it’s immediately clear that Meyer has no idea what time her story is taking place. Bella starts in Phoenix, AZ and going to upper Washington state. Even though it’s not relevant to the plot (what plot?), MarzGurl does a great job illustrating that, by the context clues, there’s no way to determine what time of year it is.  The temperatures and precipitation cited are inconsistent with the real world. It’s clear that the author herself doesn’t know, and doesn’t care.  And that’s bad writing.

Not to mention the great descriptions of how apathetic, ungrateful, shallow, whining, and manipulative Bella is. Before we even learn about Edward, she has three other boys pursuing her, and she doesn’t give a rip.  Yet she claims to be unattractive and plain.

Not to mention Meyer’s writing style. I’ve never read her books, but I can see right away, by the passages MarzGurl points out, how inconsistent and nonsensical her prose is. People don’t sound like they’re talking to each other. They don’t sound like real people, let alone teenagers (she did get one part right – that they’re self-centered). Plus her characterization hops from one mood to the other, with no motivations. There’s a lot of “and then” connectors, but “but” and “therefore” like there should be.  She can’t decide if Bella wants to be noticed or unnoticed.  She can’t decide if Edward wants to be around Bella or not.  She can’t even decide what time it is.

So check it out. Twilight fan or not. You’ll be glad you did.

MarzGurl Picks Apart Twilight: The Novel