Posts Tagged With: movies

Writing Advice from Twilight’s Melissa Rosenberg

Melissa Rosenberg is the screenwriter of Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and other vampire movies you’ve never heard of (yeah, right).  Lest you think that her lofty position exempts her from getting scathing feedback on her work (it doesn’t) or has granted her a bullet-proof ego (it hasn’t), check out her Golden Rules of Screenwriting.  In the latest issue of MovieMaker Magazine, Ms. Rosenberg hammers out the best list of writing advice you’re likely to find anywhere, regardless of the medium you write in:

My favorite piece of advice?  “Don’t give up. You’re going to get kicked in the teeth. A lot. Learn to take a hit, then pick yourself up off the floor. Resilience is the true key to success.”

True that!

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Jeffrey A. Carver talks to Sci Fi Bookshelf about Sunborn

Jeffrey A. Carver was a 2001 Nebula finalist, and is famed not only as the author of the Star Rigger books and the Chaos Chronicles series, but also for writing the Battlestar Galactica novelization.  His latest science fiction novel, Sunborn, has just hit the shelves.  He took a break from writing about heady concepts like noncorporeal symbiotes and sentient stars to give Sci Fi Bookshelf a peek into his unique universe. 

Sci Fi  For those readers who are new to the Chaos Chronicles series, do you think Sunborn is easy to pick up?  Or would you recommend starting at the beginning of the series?

Jeffrey A. Carver:  I did my best to make Sunborn accessible to readers new to The Chaos Chronicles.  That said, it’s always best to start a series at the beginning if you can—especially since the reader is plunged into the middle of an ongoing galactic adventure.  For readers new to the series, I put all three of the preceding books, starting with Neptune Crossing, into ebook format for free download from my website.  Just visit and download the format of your choice!

SFB:  Is it hard to write a series of this complexity and keep it fresh?

JAC:  Yah.  There was a long delay between books 3 and 4 because I took time out to write Eternity’s End between the two, and that book took a very long time to write.  Coming back after six or so years away was hard.  Also, I keep trying to set myself new challenges with each new book, and sometimes I find myself wondering, “What have I gotten myself into?”  The chaos theme of the series closely mirrors my state of mind at times.

SFB:  Are you planning any future Chaos Chronicles books?

JAC:  I’m currently working on book 5, The Reefs of Time, which takes up where Sunborn left off.  (Note: Sunborn is a complete story, set within the larger framework.  It doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, but rather with suggestions of what may come next.)  My plan is for 6 Chaos books altogether.

SFB:  A lot of readers may know you from Battlestar Galactica.  Do you feel that writing in the Galactica saga had any impact on the style of your latest work?

JAC:  It’s more that writing BSG was a welcome change of pace, and a chance to play in someone else’s playground for a while.  It posed different storytelling challenges, and allowed me to take a deep breath, while still writing the book quickly, as the publisher demanded.

SFB:  Do you have a favorite Battlestar Galactica character?

JAC:  I suppose Starbuck.  The web comic Sheldon said it best, when the kid in the comic got a bunch of BSG action figures for Christmas.  Each came with a list of 10 reasons why he or she was conflicted and would never find true happiness.  Starbuck came with a list of 30.  Besides, what’s not to like about Katie Sackoff?  Although, now that I think about it… Six is pretty amazing, too.  :)   Actually, besides the obvious attraction of Six, Tricia Helfer proved herself to be an astoundingly good actor by the end.  It’s been fun to watch where the various actors from BSG have wound up since the end of the series.

SFB:  But the real question is, did the studio send you any cool BSG toys?

JAC:  Well, they sent me a DVD of the miniseries, and production DVDs of Season 1, because they were already well into Season 1 when I wrote the book.   No working Vipers, alas.  I would have liked one of those.

SFB:  Any advice for aspiring science fiction writers today?

JAC:  Read a lot, and write a lot.  Take a good workshop.  See my Advice to Aspiring Writers page at: — and for that matter, my free online writing course at: .   Also, my blog at: is a good place to see what I’m up to.

SFB:  Jeff, thank you so much for your time!

JAC:  You’re very welcome.

Links for science fiction author Jeffrey A. Carver:
Science Fiction Worlds at
Pushing a Snake at
Write Science Fiction at

Available now from these and other fine book sellers:
Better World Books
Powell’s Books

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Being a fictional hero is a pretty dangerous occupation. You could get shot at, chased, imprisoned, stranded in the wilderness — and that might be just in the first chapter. When heroes die in a story, it affects us. (Or should, anyway, if the writing is well done.) It reminds us of our own mortality, of the fragility of life, and puts into sharp perspective the accomplishments and mistakes in our own lives.

But when real-life heroes die, it can affect us in profound ways.

I don’t have any words, really, to describe the loss of Blake Snyder, the wonderfully talented “Save the Cat!” guy. After years of enthusiastically demystifying the writing process and encouraging writers all over the world, he passed away unexpectedly a few days ago.

His work had such an influence on me, I had fixed in my mind the idea that I would contact him after signing my first book contract and say, “Thanks for all the inspiration!” Of course, I felt kind of silly saying that before I’d actually sold a book, so I never emailed him. I now wish, selfishly, that I had. I wish I had stepped out of my comfort zone and made contact with the man who irreverently redefined every genre under the sun with titles like “Dude with a Problem” and “Golden Fleece” and made writing (for me and a lot of people) fun again.

Maybe what I can take from this is that it’s okay to reach out to our real-life heroes, even when we feel we’re not ready. Make that connection. Seize the day.

Save the cat.

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Somebody asked me recently to recommend a good book about writing fiction. I stopped for a moment and realized that most of the writing books on my shelves are actually aimed at screenwriters, not novelists. Why is that?

I love watching movies, sure, but I have no interest in writing one. (Although I did work on a movie set once, in the stale darkness of the condemned Gates factory. That place inspired me to write a very creepy fight sequence and car chase in my next book, Cold Million.) Hollywood is not the place for me. I’d be the guy they always pull over.

So why do I keep coming back to books like Story, Save the Cat, or Crafty TV Writing? I think it has to do with fundamental differences in approach between books about novel writing and books about screenplay writing.

When I write, I like to get physical: shuffle 3 x 5 cards, sharpen pencils, haul out a typewriter and start tapping away. And the same thing is true for me as far as literary theory goes. If I’m struggling with a story issue, I don’t want a book giving me lofty ideas and abstract concepts. Those are fine, but I want tried-and-true, step-by-step answers. I’m a nuts-and-bolts kind of writer. (Or maybe just nuts.) Screenplay books tend to take the latter approach, almost to a fault, structuring story in a solid framework that I can see and understand — and then spread out across my desk and dismantle.

Does that mean it’s superior to the more organic method you typically find in fiction how-to books? Not at all. But it is more visual, more utilitarian, and it’s something I can metaphorically rebuild and retool. It’s heavy duty storytelling.

Hey, works for me.

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