28 April 2011

Vampires v Normal Character


If you are one of those people who despise vampires, you may be perplexed as to why vampire stories are still so popular. I think there is more going on with these stories than first meets the eye, and I think is has something to do with the nature of good stories.

While vampires occupied the classic good versus evil horror slot they were monsters, an expression of the animal within all of us, something other than human, a supernatural threat.

Move the vampire into the romance role and suddenly you have something else. Not only have you mashed together the horror and romance genres, but you automatically have characters full of internal as well as external conflict, and as we know already, conflict is the essence of a good story telling story.

These characters are constantly trying to reconcile their animal and human natures, protect the ones they love not just from others, but also from themselves. Often, their nature is secret from other characters which creates all sorts of conflicting emotions and conflict situations with their human loves – not to mention reader and character reveals. Also, of course, you have the classic romance scenario of forbidden love between a human and a non-human.

In short then, vampire characters come ready made with a whole suit of complex conflicts and contradictions, saving the author a lot of time, effort and thought because everyone knows what to expect.

The same effect can be tracked with the superhero phenomenon. Superhero’s came back into vogue once film makers started exploring their essential character contradictions. Now it is almost expected that any superhero will have a darker side, and as a person will be totally screwed up.

So, if you hate vampire stories, you now know what you have to do: create unique and compelling characters with loads of internal and external conflicts. Not a very easy thing to do, but worth the investment of time and energy, because these sort of characters generally occupy unique and compelling stories.

22 April 2011

Writing spaces


I’ve moved into a new writing office. Actually, it would be more accurate to say I have moved out. Now the spring is here, with some decent weather, I’ve taken to driving into the forest, walking to a shady spot with the laptop, and writing for an hour or two. For some reason, now that I’m at home more often, I find it easier to concentrate on writing when I’m out of the house. Here’s a picture of the new office, free-range horses and all.

19 April 2011

I Love Wattpad.com


I am officially addicted to Wattpad.com. Writing for an audience is both thrilling and pressurising. Nina Swift has over 2000 page reads so far and 77 official fans. It’s great having an audience read your work as you produce it, but also, they need feedback on their own writing and a regular feed of uploads – at least once a week, preferably 2 or 3 per week as I only upload 500 words at a time.

Working the fan-base takes about an hour a day, which is in addition writing.

From a discipline point of view, I need to write often enough to keep at least one chapter ahead of what I’m posting for my fans – that means draft, re-write and one edit. All this discipline is forcing me to get on with completing the Nina Swift novel which is good

Expediency has forced me to streamline my writing technique to become much more efficient. I now draft a new chapter into a notebook, re-write onto the laptop, and edit only once before posting/publishing.

Did I say I love Wattpad? No, well I do, and I’m addicted to it too.

Nick