What Makes ‘Twilight’ So Good? (Thoughts From a Fan)

There’s no denying it. Twilight (and consequently vampires) are hot right now. With the upcoming theatrical release of the much-anticipated Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, we take some time with a true fan to explore why the Twilight Saga is so popular with so many people. For storytellers, there are plenty of insights here regarding creating a compelling story for a target audience. (Mild spoiler warning with the last question.)

Why do you love Twilight and what got you reading/watching it?

I’ve always been interested in vampire novels ever since I read the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles. I had not heard of Twilight until a friend of mine recommended it to me. What I love about Twilight is that it’s a classic “boy loves girl, girl loves boy but something is keeping them apart” kind of novel. This theme harkens back hundreds of years, but a classic example is Romeo and Juliet (no I’m not comparing the two ;-)), but there’s a twist because the male protagonist is a vampire. As soon as I started reading the novels, I was completely immersed in Stephanie Meyer’s setting. These books are geared for teenagers (specifically female teenagers), so the writing is very easy to read and the storyline moves quickly. I wouldn’t say I love these books but I’m definitely a fan of the stories.

What are some noticeable attributes of Stephanie Meyer’s writing style?

As stated above, her audience is a typical teenage girl. The writing is easy to read with a lot of dialogue and it moves quickly. I think this appeals to anyone looking to escape into a book that has a good story and is an “easy read.” She’s very good at describing the emotions of the characters as well as developing a scene. She thinks of every aspect which helps create a full picture in the mind of the reader.

How do you think the writing could be improved?

This is a hard question to answer. I have no issues with her writing style. I think those who claim to not like these novels dislike it because of the storyline, not because of the writing.

How does the Twilight experience differ on paper than on screen?

I think the directors have done an excellent job of recreating the stories so far. It’s challenging to bring a story to film when so many people have already read the books. They imagine certain characters and scenes as being a specific way. There’s also always way more information in a book than there can be in a film. And the film is really the director and screenwriter interpretation.

Are you looking forward to Breaking Dawn?

Of course. It’ll be interesting to see how the deal with a half vampire child that ages rapidly. ;-)

Margit Keerdo - Resources for Screenwriters and Finding Inspiration

Freelance screenwriter Margit Keerdo knows what it takes to succeed in the industry. With degrees in cinematography and directing, and a masters in screenwriting, her talents have channelled themselves into such works as the award-winning series Life: Class After. Today, she shares some of her trade tips and tricks with us.

Who are you and what inspired you to become a screenwriter?

I’m a freelance screenwriter living in Leeds, UK. I also do script consulting on the side, and lately, I’ve started tinkering with other forms of fiction such as short stories and stage plays.

I discovered screenwriting through filmmaking. At first I wanted to study art and become a painter but I changed my mind. I already knew I wanted to study film when I got my first job on a film crew (it was a Production Assistant on a feature film) and I then went on to have a degree in Cinematography and Directing. During that four-year course I had to write my own projects to have something to film which is where I discovered writing – I realized I enjoy working with stories – trying to figure out how to get into a character’s head and how to make a story work. I’ve had lots of different jobs on films – from video assistant to 1st AD; I’ve shot, directed and edited which all has been a great experience. I think my training as a cinematographer also helps with screenwriting and seeing the visual side of the story. Some years ago I completed an MA in Screenwriting and since then I’ve been working as a full-time screenwriter.

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5 Best Sites for Free Downloadable Screenplays

The best way to learn is often by example. Whether you’re an aspiring screenwriter or a veteran looking for some inspiration, reading through scipts of established films and television shows is a great way to learn more about your craft. 

Here are five great sites for free downloadable screenplays. I looked for sites with healthy content lists and functional site design. If you don’t see a particular script in one site, go down the list and try another. You never know what you might find.

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The Hidden Obvious Guide to Making It in Hollywood: Secret #3

Handling Rejection.

I think this is going to be the shortest in this series, because all I want to do is provide an introduction to someone else’s post.

Rejection is something that everyone faces in their life. People in creative fields must face it more often. People in highly coveted creative fields, even more so.

The best advice in the world is that you must face rejection with grace and dignity. In a rare glimpse into what it is like to fail on a large and public scale, one of the credited screenwriters of Conan the Barbarian recently wrote an eloquent personal description of what massive rejection feels like:

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Finding Inspiration - Reasons to Become a Writer

I recently watched Robert Benigni’s The Tiger and the Snow (La tigre e la neve) and I was struck by a particularly great scene where Benigni’s character, the poet Attilio de Giovanni, tells his daughters why he chose to become a writer.

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Screenwriting 101 - Creating Believable Character Motivation

Films and shows, as outrageous as they can be, still operate under believable human motivations. If a character’s reasons for acting don’t translate understandably to the viewer, the story could be disregarded as unbelievable, even if it’s set in a galaxy far, far away. 

But what can a screenwriter do to compel the audience that a character’s motivations are strong enough to motivate momentous action? What could make our hero leap off cliffs, face dragons and take down space tyrants?

In Robert McKee’s Story, the established screenwriter describes this subject as “the principle of antagonism”:

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5 Great Screenwriting Sites and Why We Like Them

Writing Movies For Fun and Profit from Thomas Lennon

We’ve listed five of our favorite screenwriting sites below. We focused on quality content and informative advice. Did we miss your favorite screenwriting sites or blogs? Please let us know in the comments below! Also, the video up top is pretty funny.

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How to Write Like Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s American Gods follows the exploits of Shadow, a man recently released from prison to find his world gone. A mysterious stranger offers him a job that ultimately leads him down a path straight between a war brewing in the heart of America between two very old and mythic groups.

Following the success of Game of Thrones, the story was recently picked up by HBO and is in the process of becoming a six-season show produced by Tom Hanks’ production company. 

Gaiman, no stranger to incorporating mythology into modern settings, is known best for his work on the Sandman graphic novel series, Neverwhere, Stardust, Smoke and Mirrors, Coraline and Anansi Boys. Below, we gather some writing tips from Gaiman himself in his thoughts behind creating American Gods.

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Stephanie Watanabe - 5 Things Every Film Producer Should Know

No one knows more about the art of storytelling than those writing and producing stories for a living. The first in a continuing series, we’ll be picking the minds of talented storymakers around the world to collect some of the best practices and tips associated with creation. If you’d like to be featured in a future post, please send a hello email to keane(at)deluxis.com. And be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more exciting Deluxis news.

Who is Stephanie Watanabe?

I am an independent film producer. I teach film production at Berkeley Digital Film Institute and consult with and advise creative entrepreneurs on their projects from Development through Distribution. And yes, filmmakers are most definitely entrepreneurs!

My love of storytelling goes as far back as age six when I declared to my parents that I was going to “be in the movies.” Little did they know, I was actually serious. I attended many filmmaking workshops across the country throughout high school and majored in TV/Film during my undergraduate studies. From there, I got accepted into the American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles for my M.F.A. in Producing. After that, everything else just fell into place.

What are five things you wish you knew when you first started working as a producer?

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Seriously. DO. NOT. Sweat the small stuff. There will always be big (and little) fires for you to put out both when you’re in the production office and on set. That’s part of your job. Day-to-day disagreements, personality conflicts, pissed-off crew, a bitchy cast - all of this can ruin your mood and your day. Do your best to acknowledge the issue, resolve it, take a deep breath and then MOVE ON.

2. It’s all about the small stuff

Wait didn’t I just say, don’t sweat the small stuff? Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Let me explain. Being a great producer is in part remembering the small stuff. The little details that can be easily overlooked (and often are by a lot of producers – amateur and professionals alike).

Things like making sure you feed your crew a hot lunch, having plenty of coffee and water on set, remembering crew birthdays, finding out your lead actors’ favorite magazines and having them in the trailer when they arrive on set. Even things like making sure you invite key investors to set one day to check it out and writing handwritten thank you notes to your donors and supporters – it all counts. It may sound like a bunch of silly, irrelevant details (and a whole lot of extra work), but it’s what will set you apart. And it’s what you’ll be known for – being a thoughtful, rockstar producer that everyone wants to work with.

3. No, not all Director’s (actors, writers) are crazy

Your creative collaborators, (directors, actors, writers, etc.) are just that - creative - and it can be challenging to work with them at times. They live in the land of the creative. This is a VERY different place than where most producers live on a day-to-day basis. Meeting halfway between the creative and the practical is essential for a solid partnership.

In order to be an effective creative producer, you need to be able to speak the creative language – fluently. And have your creative team member(s) meet you at least halfway when it comes to the practical production side of things. This doesn’t mean they have to sit and do budgets with you. It does mean that they need to be aware that there is a budget to begin with. Sounds simple, but this is often a big stumbling point for many collaborative filmmaking partnerships.

4. Development is not for the faint of heart

It’s called “development hell” for a reason. Most aspiring producers think that their big challenge is production. Sorry to tell you, but that’s the EASY part. The hard part is the process of developing a project and going out for funding. It can and does take years for all of the stars to align and the project to get off the ground (financially speaking). Intellectually this is easy to understand, but when you’re sitting in your office, staring at a wall, with only $50 in your bank account, it can bring even the most dedicated producer down. Stay strong, be creative with your fundraising process and above all have a group of supportive friends, family and fellow producers who you can talk to. You’ll need it.

5. Screening your film before a packed house? Priceless.

Just as nobody can ever really prepare you for the painful process of development or the grueling hours of production – you can’t begin to know the feeling of accomplishment and elation that comes from screening your film before a real live audience. It takes your breath away. It reminds you why you do what you do (assuming you’re doing it for the right reasons). And it makes all the hard work worthwhile. It’s probably one of the greatest moments of my life – screening my film in a legendary theater on Hollywood Blvd. in L.A. There’s nothing like it.

What inspires you to keep working when you feel creativity has hit a roadblock?

I get loads of inspiration from reading books and magazines – I love to pull out inspiring images and tack them to my “inspiration board” in my office. I’m really visual (go figure), so I’m attracted to beautiful photographs, fashion, architecture, design – anything really.

I also love watching inspiring short videos on YouTube - TED Talks are really good for this. Another great way I handle creative blocks is to step away from my computer – go outside – and just breathe, walk, talk to people and generally get outside of my head for at least 15 minutes. Does the trick every time.

What are you currently working on now?

Right now I’m in development on a feature length documentary called RECOVERING IRMA (www.recoveringirma.com), about a family’s journey to find hope and healing after domestic violence homicide. I’m really excited about this project and the potential reach it can have in affecting change around the issue of partner violence. It’s my first documentary film, which is challenging and really exciting. I’m also developing a few other narrative feature films, a web series and am producing a really exciting music video for Oakland-based rock band Johnny Hi-Fi (www.johnnyhi-fi.com).

You can find out what else I’m up to on my soon-to-be-launched website:

www.stephaniewatanabe.com and via Twitter - @Steph_Watanabe

Five Great Skits from Emmy History

With the nominees for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards announced last week, we take an opportunity to look at some of the fun events preceding this year’s ceremony. 

NPH opens with a classy big band song (2009) 

Conan gets Lost in a series of shows (2006)

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