Everyone who knows me has at some point heard me trash Christopher Paolini and Stephanie Meyer for an innumerable number of reasons, which for word count considerations I won’t go into now, but I now find that despite my loathing and general disdain for their abilities as writers they have earned my respect, albeit begrudgingly. They have earned it simply because they wrote. As I write my own pieces of fiction I have begun to appreciate the effort that goes into the writing process; in particular the creation of an environment that is wholly new or different or simply believable. Creating a fantasy world from scratch and filling it is an incredibly hard thing to do, so kudos to Paolini. Too bad he couldn’t make us immerse ourselves into it, too bad his writing was too clunky to allow you to appreciate his effort, too bad he can’t weave a story together to enable us to truly see the world he has created and understand it. It’s a sad thing when we can unequivocally say that he wrote better as a 15 year old with Eragon than as an adult with the subsequent titles. I think the problem was that as he got older the more he tried to copy Tolkien but not realizing that Tolkien was a not great word master either; what he did have however was an ability to describe his world with a knack of seamlessly weaving his narrative and his history into one continuous story. The appendices simply added historical context but you didn’t need them. It fit, it had depth. Paolini unfortunately doesn’t have any of these qualities so the books just got worse. With each book getting increasingly clunkier, murkier and down right stupider with half baked moralisation and philosophy, it is a wonder the publishers were still punting a massive world wide release and marketing campaign with the final book. I’m yet to see fans as disappointed as Eragon fans after they read Inheritance. They finally reached the end of their tether and understood what I had been saying since Eldest – Paolini can’t write.
Stephanie Meyer can’t write either but hers is a different problem altogether. The greatest ideas can fall apart if you can’t make them believable or even just likeable. Fantasy romance with vampires and werewolves (shape changers) is nothing new and Stephenie Meyer fans will argue (plus sales) will bely the point that Stephanie Meyer’s works aren’t likeable but that isn’t my point, they aren’t likeable as works of literature. First she shreds fantasy convention by gifting us with sparkling vampires then creeps us out with 117 year old stalker vampire, then assaults our forbearance with a self absorbed delusional depressed clutz of a girl, and some racial stereotyping to give us the mother of all dysfunctional love triangles ending off with what must be scariest of all possible outcomes in the series – the imprinting of Jacob on Reneesme. Reneesme, I mean really?! Are you fucking high?! This is me ignoring the innumerable plot holes, the unexplainable idiocy of the actions of some of the character (Bella in particular) and the repetitive use of some adjectives and descriptions (I swear if I ever read the phrase ‘model good looks’ anywhere else I’ll burn whatever medium it is). The Twilight series was an assault on all reason and reason lost, paving way for works such as E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey to further erode what little dignity is left. ( ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and its sequels is currently breaking records world wide for all mediums – print and ebooks. The story simply put is Mills & Boon with S&M in it. I’ll give them this though; they got people reading.
Oh my, so much for word count considerations.
But that actually isn’t the point of all this. My point is that it’s hard to write, period. To then write things of commercial and literary success that not only get people reading but are well written and have meaning is the holy grail of writers out there. I want to do that and more. I want to write pieces that not only move me but move my readers. I want to right ripping yarns that play with convention, rip it up and create it anew like Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind I want to weave stories that take you on journeys as epic as Homer’s Illiad, as wondrous as the world of Harry Potter, as beautiful as the forests of Lothlórien and as meaningful as C.S Lewis’s Narnia and works of social commentary like Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I want to write stories on par with Shakespeare’s classics, and I want Rowling’s success and the recognition that goes with it. I want to be remembered for all posterity.