Wednesday, November 16, 2011


By Chad Morris

In honor of a movie coming out this weekend, I have a confession to make. This isn’t easy to write. . . . I . . . I . . . I’ve read Twlight. (Hangs head) Well, not completely. Let me explain.

It was a few years ago. I was teaching high school and roughly 97.5% of all the girls I taught were reading it—many of them for the second time. (And reading it much more than their assignments.) So after so many students guaranteed that I’d love it, I borrowed my sister’s book and decided to give it a try.

These were my thoughts:

A girl who moved into a new town. Huh. Not very original, but it worked. Her dad wasn't around much. I thought that was necessary if she was going to end up with a vampire boyfriend. Dads don’t usually approve of guys who are constantly tempted to kill their daughters. The girl needed a date to a dance. . . . I wonder what we’re having for dinner? Oh, and am I supposed to take my son to basketball practice today? I think so—Oh yeah, I wasn’t paying attention . . . She saw this pale guy from across the room. He looked strange, but handsome—strangely handsome, but he wouldn’t talk to  . . . I think I saw in the previews that the guy who plays Edward in the movie was Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter. But he died in that movie. That was sad. Oh, I guess he’s dead in this book too—kind of a trend for the guy. Oh, my eyes have been looking at words, but my brain hasn’t been registering anything. Go back a page or so. So the guy covers his mouth when he first is in the same room with . . . I hope we’re having tacos . . . or . . . pizza. Of course, I just bought pizza the other day, but I don’t think that matters. You can repeat good food whenever you want. Oh sorry. That mopey girl still needed a date and she . . . uh . . . ham and pineapple it is!

I gave up less than 60 pages in. I know that is not far enough to fairly judge a book, but it was like I hit a wall--a wall called "I don't care."

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to make fun of Twlight--though there is some pretty entertaining stuff out there, like THIS, or THIS, or THIS (my favorite). My point is that trying to read it was an experience that taught me the importance of a target audience. I believe that Stephenie Meyers hit her target audience of teen girls (and many women) with laser point accuracy. She appealed to them. She filled a need, and she was very successful at it. And apparently, I’m NOTHING like a teenage girl (surprise).

I understand that the appeal is real, even though I don't understand why. In fact, I think it's a mystery to many men. As I reported to one of my classes that I just couldn’t get through it, one of my boy students said, “I couldn’t read it either. I think every page was soaked in estrogen.” It’s yet another piece of evidence that I, and many other men in the world just don’t understand women.

I have seen the first movie and part of the second with my wife. (For some reason, I REALLY feel the need to mention she was there—masculinity saved). So I’m somewhat familiar with parts of the series. It solidified my position that many girls think these books are tremendous reads while they are the furthest thing from entrancing for a lot of men. From a guy’s perspective, vampires sparkling in the sun is just plain sissy (I’m glad the werewolf didn’t have rainbow fur and smell of strawberries). And if Edward is really over a century old, why does he sometimes act like a junior high drama diva? But I don’t have to understand it or like it. I’m not the target audience. (Though I must admit, full points for the baseball scene.)

As a second witness, this is what New York Times Best-selling Author David Farland wrote in response to Stephen King's criticism of Twlight:

"In criticizing Stephenie Meyer, [Stephen] King recently wrote that '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.' 

"It’s easy to trivialize the work of other writers, particularly in speculative fiction . . . 

" . . . I’ve read some of Meyer’s work. I was her writing teacher in college. As a first novel, Twilight definitely earned an A+. 

". . . When an author writes a novel, he or she must tailor it to an audience. They may be young, or old; male or female. Stephenie is writing to young women—Stephen King’s granddaughters. Of course he doesn’t like her story. It wasn’t written for him!" (read the whole article)

Hats off to you Stephenie Meyers. I have no idea why your books are so appealing to your target audience, but they are. And it’s a good reminder to all of us to remember our audience and make sure we appeal to them—write with them in mind. And when we send out our manuscripts to beta-readers, we need to pay close attention to what our target audience says. They are the ones we have to please.


  1. Awesome stuff here Chad. I am one of the crazy women who LOVE these books. LOVE! But yes, they are totally for women and girls - definitely not a "guy" thing. I am not impressed with the movies but I still love to go see them. Can't help myself I guess. Of course, I've learned to leave my husband home. These are much more fun with "just the girls."
    Fun post! Nice to meet you :)

  2. Full marks to you for trying, but you're right, it's generally a 'girl' thing, and that's fine.

  3. My husband (who never reads fiction) read all the Twilight books after wondering what all the fuss was about. He really enjoyed them.

    I completely agree about target audience, but there is also something universal about a well told story.

  4. Well I can't really believe you even tried - funnily I never think of the Twilight books as anything other than girly - I did love them though! Full marks for effort and for going to the films!

  5. Great post, Chad! I'm glad that you gave it a shot. I haven't read them in their entirety, either, but someone once told me that I couldn't criticize the story unless I had read it, so I went on Wikipedia and read every one of the plot summaries. This was the result:

    Also, if you're going to watch the movies, I highly recommend watching them with Rifftrax. Good stuff.

  6. Hey Former786, reading the plot summaries doesn't count! LOL!
    And I'm pretty sure that you and Chad could make your own rifftrax.

  7. Apparently my 2 teenage girls (and one pre-teen) aren't anything like teenage girls either. None of them like Twilight! But I bought the final Harry Potter movie last night and the living room was full of girlish screams. :D

  8. NICE post.

    And my hubs is in total agreement on the baseball scene :D

  9. Oh!
    I'm not a fan of the movies, and I love the books - even though they're melodramatic (hello YA), but the soundtracks??

    WAY love those.

  10. I see where you're coming from. I bought the first book after it'd been out in paperback for awhile thinking, "whatever this woman's got, all writers want it. Maybe I can figure out what it is." You seemed to have answered it pretty well.

    I've yet to get around to reading it. I'm the wrong audience and I don't mean that just because I'm a 39-year-old male.

    I once heard Larry Correia talk about Stephanie Meyer and how much people make fun of her story (he threw in a small jab, too) then followed it up with, "But she lives in house made of gold bricks."

    That shuts up a lot of people.

  11. Abby - Glad to you them. And your kind to let your husband stay home. Shelly let me stay home for the last one (heaven bless her.)

    Sarah & Lynn - Yeah, I tried. That's about all I can claim.

    Angela - Glad you're husband likes them.

    Former 786 - the idea of watching them with you and providing our own Rifftrax sounds great. I would actually get excited about watching it that way (Great idea Shell)

    Kristin - Glad to hear some teenage girls don't like them. Let's hear it for variety.

    Jolene - Vampires were never cooler than when they were playing baseball

    Christopher- Your right, it's not just because we're guys. I know guys who like it and girls who hate it. But props to Stephenie's for making it work for so many others.


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