Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Dawning of Twilight

Surely by now you’ve heard of the book and movie called Twilight -- even if you’re not a teenage girl. The book Twilight was written by Stephanie Meyer. She says she had a dream about the characters, then wrote and sold the book for six-figures in about six months. The books are selling at near Harry Potter pace, and the publisher hopes the recently released movie will boost sales even more.

Besides making other authors and unpublished writers jealous, what can this story teach us?

Well, if you write for young adults, it tells you that age group likes adventure. They like adventure mixed with the paranormal, the magical, or the other world. They like books with strong male and female lead characters. And young teen girls like romance. They like a series so they can anticipate and get lost in the ongoing story. They want to see the shunned or misfit character go on the adventure, find the true love, or take the lead in the tale. They want to be able to envision themselves in the characters’ roles. They want to be transported to this other world -- a magical world that feels real and possible.

And the truth is, a lot of adults like this same thing. A lot of adults have read Meyer’s Bella Swan books, just as a lot of adults have read Rowling’s Harry Potter. Both series appeal across the age spectrum.

If you’ve read either or both series, what appealed to you? As a writer, what did you learn from them?


  1. Although I read both series I only liked the Harry Potter series in it's entirety. In the Twilight saga I only liked books 1 and 3 .

    In Twilight and Eclipse what I liked was the mystery element the author introduced. What I didn't like about the series was how much of a sap Bella was I'd the fact that she only found purpose in life through Edward. Breaking Dawn nearly broke me.

    Harry Potter I loved first book to last. The plot was deep, the detail was rich. The clues were scattered over the whole series. The character stayed true to themselves throughou t the book. Unlike Bella who morphed into Hermione in Breaking Dawn. Also Rowling has a good appreciation of the fact that some things are worth fighting and dying for. Meyers I think took anti-violence too far. As a result the plot in Breaking Dawn fell short

  2. What a great review of the series, Brooke. I love the way you analyzed the series as a whole. Very insightful.

  3. I have to confess, I - a lover of all kinds of vampire fiction - could not get past the first half of the first Twilight book. I couldn't take the whining, and I had trouble accepting a 100+-year-old vampire who was still mentally and emotionally 17.

    OTOH, despite the prevalence of CAPSLOCK!HARRY in the fifth HP book, I enjoyed the series immensely. Rowling isn't perfect, of course, but she has created a rich, multi-layered world, and complex characters who remain true to themselves. And I'm not just saying that because I have a thing for Snape. (Book Snape is wonderfully drawn. Yes, we see him from Harry's POV, but until the last book we Do. Not. Know. where his loyalties truly lie. Movie Snape...I'm an Alan Rickman fan, but I wouldn't have cast him in this role, but then, I've learned to think of movies made from books as "This is the story you would get if the main character sold his/her story to the producers." They're enjoyable, but the books are canon.)

    I have to add, that the Twilight series is definitely YA, in tone and construction, which is fine. Much YA does a better job at telling stories with strong female protagonists than mainstream adult fiction does, which, I think, is why adults still read the genre.

    Harry Potter, while having children as lead characters, is not specifically YA, especially by book 5, just as, when it was written Little Women was not YA.

    I would, of course, express this much better after coffee, but I've been up all night with a sick dog, and am going back to sleep now.

  4. Thank you Melissa. Boy, you and Brooke function much better than I do early in the morning.

    I like both series, although I like the Potter books better than the Bellas. I wonder if Rowling had an overall vision for the series from the beginning. I know I've read stories that say Meyer dreamed the first book and immediately wrote it. Perhaps she's doing it book by book and didn't have the overall story line for multiple books and therefore wasn't able to create the layers and lay clues for, say, book three in book one.

  5. I'm pretty certain Rowling had some kind of a plan. I remember reading an interview with her once upon a time (around book three or four) where she said she had the final chapter of the final book written.

    Which is a major point in the pro-outline column, I guess. (I'm terrible at outlining, personally. I think that's why I write so much micro-fiction.)

    Oh, right, and I'm MissMelysse from twitter (we're already following each other). Love your blog.

  6. Hello MissMelysse from Twitter! If anyone is on Twitter and wants to follow MissMelysse, just go to:

    Bluestocking, I'm sure I'm following you, but can't remember your twitter name. Post it for us.

    If you plan on writing a series, then you have to think ahead, especially if you see it as having a final conclusion. Some writers see the series as open-ended. It'll go on and on and the characters will discover their lives as they go, like the rest of us humans. But if you see your tale will end after 5 or 6 or 3 books, then you have to plot them out.

  7. I haven't read any of them, but any book I read takes me somewhere I haven't been, either as regard to place or inside someone else's head.

    Morgan Mandel/Double M

  8. Morgan, both of these series would fit that bill.


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