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  1. Nightshade
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    Nightshade Senior Member

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    A catchy opening and avoiding cliché in YA and Vampire

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Nightshade, Apr 17, 2011.

    I know thanks to Twilight the whole the whole vampire thing has just been done to death which is something I find really frustrating because I've written and re-written my novel so many times in the last six years which happens to revolve around a more traditional vampire rather than sparkly ones. I still want to persevere with my story because in essence I really love it, the characters have been worked on well and I know them as well as I know myself, there are twists and the plot line is exciting (I hope), but I'm not sure now if I should scrap vampires and replace it with demons and how to open the book. But one dilemma at a time.

    1) Vampires;

    So the story is essentially a vampire story but in this case the main character is a vampire but just isn't aware of this until the events of this book, and she's not particularly happy about it when she does find out. There are complicated reasons behind this, vampirism being a type of virus which manifests in a host body until they're in their teens when they 'awaken'. The science behind it is something I'm working on so it's believable to the reader but not too in depth, and it doesn't drive the story so I won't get into it too much.
    But does the world really need another vampire novel? Using vampires as the monsters they're intended to be rather than romanticising the undead was something I really wanted to do in this book but there are so many novels with vampires in available that it's giong to be like a drop in the ocean. I toyed with the idea of just having them as 'demons' but then demons don't necessarily need to do something as barbaric as drinking blood in order to survive. I'd appreciate any pro's or con's of continuing with vampires or suggestions anyone might have regarding this.

    2) The Opening;

    So originally the book started out in a school with the main character bemoaning a detention she managed to get on the first day of the new term. It's important that she still has a detention at some point in the story as it's a plot point in a later chapter but is this the right way to open a book? It's a Young Adult so I want to just dive into the action but I can't just throw some vampires at the reader because it's too early, she's not meant to know they exist at the start of the novel. It's during the first chapter she meets the antagonist Elias for the first time and we get an insight into her attitudes and personality. But do I start on dialogue when she's discussing an event we haven't seen, or do I open on the event itself where she's getting the detention in question? How do you usually prefer a book to open? I want it to be a little humerous but not so much that you can't take the book seriously or it doesn't seem realistic.
    Any suggestions on how you've overcome a problem like this or how I might come up with alternatives which still fit the pace of the story?
     
  2. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    Using vampires as drug-addicted sex objects is overdone. Having a monstrous vampire whose bite doesn't actually feel pleasant is forgotten enough to be considered an interesting twist. It might actually be funny if vampirism made her acne really prevalent for a few years.

    Flip through the highschool romance and "slice-of-life" sections to see where they normally start. Without doing the research, my instinct says to fume about the reason for detention intermingled with actually going to or being in detention. Or if the in-detention is boring, I might jump from the incident that got to the detention straight to what happens afterward.
     
  3. Nightshade
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    Nightshade Senior Member

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    Thank you, this is quite reassuring :D
    I wanted to go from the angle that vampires have to be born rather than created due to the evolution of the species over time. The venom the first few vampires excreted from their fangs could transform humans into vampires but after a few generations it became more toxic like deadly snake venom and so any human bitten undergoes a change so unbearably painful they almost mutate and become 'feral'. Abnormally strong vampires still unable to withstand sunlight like early vampires, but with a reduced lifespan. I really want to get back to the brutality of vampires rather than "omigawsh that really good looking hard to approach sparkly guy is misunderstood and needs a huuuuuuuuuuug!"
     
  4. Azeher
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    Azeher Member

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    Well, first, Stephanie Meyer was succesful at ruinning vampires, and at ruinning romance, and at ruinning what a good book should be in general, but she was also succeful at writing another vampire book and still getting lots of fans. What I mean is you have the same opportunities.

    While demons are more interesting in my taste, I'd recommend you to go with what you like and love. Were you proud of your story about vampires when you started it? Where you proud of it when you reached an advanced point in the story? Where you still proud of it when you finnished it? (if you did), if yes then stick with your vampires.
    Lot of writers always make the mistake to write mostly for readers, when they should write mostly for themselves.

    Your story seems interesting for me. I'm being honest. I also like the way you changed some things too about what vampires are and how they grow and develope themselves.

    As to how to oppen your book, I think it's not exactly too much important. The two ideas were good for me. What makes an oppening interesting is how you write it. The use of right -and catching- words. But if you desperately need help... hmmm... let her be already on the detention room.
     
  5. Nightshade
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    Nightshade Senior Member

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    I did try to plot out the book with demons in it at one point but it just didn't have the same effect. When the character found out she was a vampire it was after she'd seen the worst side of them and a friend of hers had died at their hands so she really doesn't want to be one. When I did it with demons it was like "oh well I have evil demon powers, never mind," it didn't have the same impact on the story.
    I was much happier with using vampires as any change my character would undergo would be unavoidable as it's something she's inherited genetically.

    Thank you for your comments and help :-D and yes, Steph Meyer did utterly destroy the vampire/romance genre for me. There is romance in my book but it's a subplot and not the most important thing that's going on in the story. I have, unfortunately, read all the Twilight books and it did vampires no justice. Poppy Z Brite is much better at writing vampires.
     
  6. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Just write your story the way it works best and you're most passionate about. Everything in fiction is over done, except perhaps quality writing, which will always be at a premium. So, I'd just worry about writing the best, most entertaining and engaging book you can.
     
  7. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    In my most recent, "Kde domov můj?" I married the basic Much Ado About Nothing theme to an old school Eastern European milieu, My MC a loveable/hateable Lady Macbeth rip-off. The result of my gumbo is no doubt an instant classic, simply a sharpened fang epic !
     
  8. penandink15
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    penandink15 New Member

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    Your plot sounds very interesting, and I like how you've changed the characteristics of the vampires in your book, making the vampirism inherited genetically because of the evolution of the species intermingling with humans.

    I also like that you made the vampires the bad guys! While I haven't read Twilight or any of Stephanie Meyer's works, I have read some really great Vampire books, and yours sounds like one that I would add to that list. Right up there with Dracula and Vladimir Todd

    As to how to begin the story, that's always the hard part for me. I think the smoothest transition would be for your MC to start off in detention and have a mini-flashback as to why/ how she ended up there in the first place. I feel like if you have the incident be the first thing you show the audience that either 1) we might get a bad impression of the MC (depending on the situation/ thing she does to get in detention) or 2) the in-between part from when she gets in trouble and actually gets in the detention room might end up being awkward?

    So being in detention being the first thing gets my vote.
     
  9. Nightshade
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    Nightshade Senior Member

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    Thank you everyone for your feedback. I've tried restarting a few times with the suggestion of having her in the detention but it doesn't seem to work unfortunately. It's not that she does something really awful, she falls asleep in class and the teacher catches her. It's more to set up the relationship she has with the other people around her and what her 'social status' is perceived to be so you get an idea of how she fits in with the world, or doesn't as is her case.

    I'm really reassured that so many of you like the way I'm portraying my vampires, I was so worried people would think of 'another twilight' as is unfortunately the attitude most adopt the moment someone mentions vampires, myself included in some situations. It's such a shame because as you've said there are a lot of good vampire books out there but they just seem to be forgotten among all the recent YA vampire hype.

    I want to make it clear in the first book that vampires aren't something you should aspire to be or fall in love with, while at the same time not make out that every vampire is evil because the main character is one even if she's not happy about it. It's trying to put across that message that, although you can't help what you're born as, you can still make the most of it by being the best you can be. Also that whole teenage feeling of being different and changing is something I'd like to highlight through the MC not being able to stop the change into being a vampire and feeling like she wants to be like everyone else because they're human and 'normal'.
     
  10. lilix morgan
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    lilix morgan Contributing Member

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    Funny thing about plots that have been beaten over the head and suffocated to death- it's called mainstream. Like in fashion, books too go through their own shedding of one cliche for another every so many years. Remember when Interview With A Vampire came out? The same theory here applies to a trend of, say, high-waisted jeans; they were awesome in the 70s, and they're turning awesome again.

    To answer your first point;

    While I see you're searching for common grounding to make the story more believable to the reader making this a virus of a sort, remember that you don't need to break it down to every single molecule, either. So long as you give the reader a footing where they can say, "Ah, wait, I can understand this/put myself in the shoes of this character!" is when you've accomplished a connection. Most novels, regardless if it's about drug-loving vampires, human-sympathizing vampires, or your run-of-the-mill-kill-everyone vampires, give something to make you fall into step with the plot, characters, or overall meaning behind the story.

    I, too, struggle with the thought and worry that writing a vampire story in the midst of this overhaul is a little intimidating. But you shouldn't look at it like that! Your story is just that; yours. Not Larry down the street, not Barb who's driving on the highway always on her cellphone, and not Lucy the snippy know-it-all in your Cultures class. If your story and your characters called for vampires, then write them as vampires! You don't write mermaids in when you really need harpies, do you? I'd hope not; you'd have to explain to the reader why your story's only a page long about some drowned harpies.

    A note on the demon topic, though: Satanic rituals that mention demons (don't quote me on this) mention sacrifices of blood to be paid in order for their arrival via Earth. While I've never read a story of a demon needing to suck on a vein to stay alive, I have read one where, given the opportunity, they'd eat humans completely- full consumption. If you're really looking for a vampire-free idea, try inserting human-gobbling demons and watch how that one goes over.

    Onto your second point;

    Starting a scene, regardless of what ever chapter you're working on, is going to be difficult. Do you play it from an opening description, or launch right into dialogue? Do you mix the two and see which one rules in favor? This is something more for you, the sole creator of the story, to choose. Anyone can hold your hand and tell you how to write it, but then again, it won't be your story anymore, then, will it? Try writing a description first. Don't like it? No worries, now try a dialogue opening! Don't like either? Again, no worries. Mix and match, just don't give up. You may end up liking that you're launching right into the story, just remember that you will need to find some way to provide a small backdrop to put your story in front of. As a Twilight reader, we didn't just jump into Bella- we learned about her collectively through the chapters, thus providing the backdrop to fill in the blanks for her location while still offering progression throughout the book.
     
  11. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    Well, do you wanna write or do you wanna get paid?

    On one hand, it's great that it has vampires because kiddies who love Twilight or Vampire Diaries will INSTANTLY gravitate towards this book. Don't take this as an insult, please! I'm stating facts. People who find the idea of vampirism to be some sort of fetish will probably want to at least skim the book to see if there are any pillow-eating, house-destroying raunchy parts. There will be normal people that will want to look through your book for the sake of finding good writing and a fascinating plot, but, unfortunately, the vampire craze is like a dark force that plagues the literary world. What I'm trying to get at is that, even if you're a hack trying to find fast money, you would probably want to writea bout vampires because publishers are just spitting these out constantly.

    Mmm... I can't help but feel like I'm insulting you when that is hardly my intention. What I'm trying to say is that, if you want to write about vampires, it better be incredibly unique. I go to bookstores on a regular basis and a lot of the stuff I see in the YA section are vampire books and every single time I see an inhumanely attractive vampire on the cover, I don't even bother touching it, I just completely ignore it. As do a lot of other people who are my age and older. My word of advice if you really want to stick with the vampire theme is to try something way out of the ordinary. I don't know, throw in some fighting robots and aliens. And zombies. And MAYBE werewolves. Actually, no, forget the last one.

    I've read the description and I find the idea of vampirism being a genetic mutation pretty interesting. You're on the right track. As for the opening, I would suggest dialogue in the whole detention scene, but that's because I'm bias- I really like dialogue. It's usually one of my favourite parts of reading a book. It gives me a break from all the decription, despite the fact the reader has never seen the event the person is talking about. Just make the said event interesting enough to write about within dialogue. And humour helps! A good dose of wit always pulls me deeper into a book.

    Again, you're on the right track. I just hope you have a crazy twist that makes what you have different from the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod or any other angsty rehashed teenaged vampire books.
     
  12. Nightshade
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    Nightshade Senior Member

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    Again thank you all for your feedback, I've finally caught my muse (he was hiding behind the sofa gnawing the plaster) and am forcing him to do some writing with me so the opening of the book is back on track and I'm hoping I can make some good progress during the bank holidays before I go back to work.

    I'm taking it all on board and making sure not to slip into old habits with unbearably beautiful vampires who are 'just misunderstood'.
    The idea about robots was an itneresting one but I want this to feel like something that could actually happen which I think is something that makes it just a little scarier. The whole virus thing (as was previously said, much to my relief, doesn't need to have complete scientific research and analogies to it) is kind of a way of saying this is just a species of creature which has mutated and evolved through genes and disease, it's not through magic persay. I want my readers (if I get any) to look over their shoulders and think "Bloody hell, any one of these people could be a vampire..." rather than "Gosh, that person's rather sparkly, don't you think?"
    I want to show that vampires are human beings in that they have personalities and they can't help what they are, but at the same time they need to kill to live because it's how they've evolved, they're predators, it's just that most enjoy it more than others.
     

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