Feb 11 2009
This is how I would have edited the first two pages of Twilight. In particular, I found that the main character has a bland personality and needs better motivations.
If I had been the publisher’s assistant considering this work, I would probably have stopped reading at this point.
- Character motivation is missing. For example, if she loves Arizona and her father makes her uncomfortable, why does she decide to go to Forks?
- I’m not feeling the main character’s voice. She sounds sort of pretentious (e.g. “despite the scarcity of my funds”) and not terribly interesting.
- The sentences are unnecessarily convoluted. (Bella really likes em-dashes!) That particularly hampered the pacing during the death scene flash-forward.
- I don’t think the author is on my page. The narrator says that she’s terrified, but she actually comes across as implausibly calm.* She denies that she’s verbose, but even her denial is verbose! If you want readers to reach those conclusions, have your characters lead the way with their actions and words. Telling us she has a particular trait when she’s demonstrating that she doesn’t is probably not as effective as it could be (unless you consciously want to make the character look unaware of herself).
*Across the board, the author could have done more “showing” rather than “telling.” For example, I would have tried to show how terrified the narrator was by using syntax, her word-choice, body-language and actions. Terror is a strong emotion that should be more visible than it was. Although she’s purportedly terrified, she actually comes off as implausibly calm for someone facing death at an early age. It didn’t feel believable to me.
If you enjoyed this review of Twilight, please also see my list of editing errors in the Twilight series.