The ‘Twilight’ Formula: A Writer’s Guide to Mammoth Success
With Breaking Dawn raking in a cool $139.5 million at the box office weekend, the word is officially out: Twilight is the thing to be. From this point forward, every epic saga and one-shot alike will follow in its footsteps to create the next big thing.
But watching the movies? Writing out the notes? Studying? That takes time, and it’s time you don’t have (or don’t want to use). Here’s where I come in. I present to you, the go-to tool for any aspiring scriptwriter looking to hit pay dirt. I call it the Twilight Formula, it has everything you need to know. Because really, who wants to put in effort?
Anyway, enough of my pointless rambling, you’re got a script to start! Let’s jump on in.
Step 1: The Right Characters
Whereas many quality films get to phenomenon status by containing well-developed, interesting characters, Twilight breaks the mold by going the opposite direction.
Take Bella for instance, she has no discernible personality, there’s nothing interesting about her (she’s clumsy, but who isn’t?), she’s helpless, and is overall incredibly bland. But this is how it should be. Instead of developing the person that you’ll spend four stories reading about, make a blank slate. This is a revolutionary technique I like to call Interactive Character. All your interests, likes and dislikes, and even emotions are projected onto this character, and as a result it feels as if you’re actually experiencing the story yourself. That’s why everybody loves Bella, because when they read or watch Twilight, they are Bella. It’s groundbreaking, and groundbreaking is never not good.
But your movie isn’t a movie with just one character, and there needs to be an attractive male lead. In fact, let’s put in two. Again, personality is not important, but not for the same reasons. See, these love interests, and all that’s required from them is a physical attractiveness. There’s no need for a sense of humor if someone’s gorgeous.
Put the ingredients in the bowl and mix them up, and next thing you know you’ll be working on…
Step 2: The Perfect Relationships
Nobody can buy into a romance if there isn’t a probable cause for it to exist. Luckily, Twilight has this covered.
We’ll start with the relationship between Edward and Bella, the backbone of the entire saga. They’re living proof that relationships don’t have to be built on something like emotion or compatibility. Edward is interested in Bella because for whatever reason, he has a strong desire to get at the blood in her veins. And we know he’s infatuated, because he does things like follow her and watch her sleep. It’s a bold, new direction to take when creating a relationship we’re supposed to root for, and one that should be practiced more often. I mean really, who’s not to say the characters won’t grow on a deeper level? Edward and Bella certainly seemed to, in fact it got to the point where she couldn’t function as a normal human being without him (the sign of a very powerful relationship). This is where the Interactive Character could come in, in a very interesting fashion. Perhaps that hunk she’s been eyeing shares your love of Owl City, and doesn’t that make you feel wanted?
But then there’s Jacob and Bella. Jacob falls in love with Bella because…why not? Love works in mysterious ways, and Jacob has a great body. Don’t question it, just roll with it. Sure, it goes against what I said before, but the more attractive somebody is, the more of an exception to the rule they are. Experts call this the Ab Paradox. Utilize this wherever you can, because it makes writing so much easier.
So with your characters and relationships in place, it’s time to look at.
Step 3: The Story, Stupid
Fact: studies show that this is what the audience pays the least amount of attention to. They make act like it’s what draws them in, but they don’t give it enough attention to notice the flaws.
Though I’ve given it a lot of praise today, I think it’s important to note that Twilight is in no way original. Really, it’s sort of a hodge-podge of stories that already exist in both film and literature. It seems to draw heavily from the Sookie Stackhouse novels, with a decent amount of the romanticized Anne Rice vampire thrown in, and perhaps a little Harry Potter for good measure. But there’s so much else going on, like fighting for Edward’s love or waiting for Jacob to take his shirt off again, that there’s no time to sit and watch the plot closely. So, long story short, it’s all good!
But it can’t be ignored completely. After all, the characters are all apart of it and as a result the audience fades in and out a little bit. So make something up, just pull it off the top of your head. Or maybe just start writing and don’t stop, whatever you put down could potentially be worked into something usable. Sure, Twilight may have had strange vampire councils, werewolves, and friendships that didn’t seem to make any sense, but it holds interest and makes people love it. And that’s the important thing.
Step 4: Sell It
There’s no set in stone way to go about this. But my advice is to write a book first, and then have someone buy the film rights. You may not get to write the actual movie, but you will have laid the groundwork. And sometimes it’s better to let someone else put in the effort.
And there you have it, the most helpful writing tool you will ever have. Any questions? I doubt it. Now stop reading and fire up Final Draft, you’ve got minds to corrupt!
– William Bitterman