Meyer claims that the idea for Twilight came to her in a dream on June 2, 2003. Meyer claims that her dream was about a human girl and a vampire who was in love with her but thirsted for her blood. Based on this dream, Meyer wrote the draft of what is now Chapter 13 of the book.[16] The first drafts were titled Forks instead of Twilight before the publisher requested to change the title. At first, she didn't use names to refer to Bella and Edward, instead she used 'She' and 'He'. Later on, "Charlotte Brontë's Mr. Rochester" and "Jane Austen's Mr. Ferrars" led her to choose the name Edward for her male character, while she named her female lead Isabella because it would have been the name she would have chosen for her daughter if she had one. Rosalie and Jasper were originally named Carol and Ronald.[17]

Meyer continued writing to the end chronologically, not worrying about the backstory. She lettered the chapters instead of numbering them, Chapter 13 being E. The last chapter of the first draft kept getting longer and longer, so she wrote epilogue after epilogue. However, she realized that she wanted to explore many of the events in the backstory and the reasons behind the events in the chapters, so she planned to write a 5-6 chapter backstory. Instead, these turned into twelve chapters by the time she was finished.[18] In a matter of three months she had transformed her dream into a completed novel,[19] though she claims that she never intended to publish Twilight and was writing for her own enjoyment.[20] After a summer of detachment from the world, immersed in writing, she finished the manuscript on August 29, 2003.[21]

Her sister's response towards the book was enthusiastic and she persuaded Meyer to send the manuscript to literary agencies.[22] Of the 15 letters she wrote, five went unanswered, nine brought rejections, and the last was a positive response from Jodi Reamer of Writers House.[23] It was later revealed that Meyer had merely sent out letters to literary agents inquiring if they would be interested in a 130,000-word manuscript about teenage vampires.[24] Meyer's letter received an initial response expressing interest from an inexperienced assistant at Writers House who did not know that literary agents expect young adult books to come in at about 40,000 to 60,000 words in length.[24] It was only because of that lucky mistake that Reamer eventually read Meyer's manuscript and was able to sign her up as a client.[24] During the editing process, a chapter that used to be Chapter 20 was cut out of the manuscript along with Emmett's account of his bear attack and some parts of the epilogue.[25]

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