1. Vintage
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    Vintage Member

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    Has this been done to death yet?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Vintage, Jan 10, 2011.

    Okay, so basically, I am about 3/4ths through the first draft of a book that I have been working on since mid-October. It was spurred on by some Twilight fan telling me, upon me critisising Stepheni Meyer, that "You can't write a better vampire novel!" You can see where this is going. I brainstormed for about two months before an idea occurred to me. Here's a basic rundown of the plot:

    It starts out as a crime novel and takes place in London. You know, the prologue is the murder from the POV of the victim (Done in short and confusing sentences in an attempt at building up some tension), then the police find the body, and it becomes obvious that some unknown animal has fed on it. However, over the next few days, a lot of people around my main character die horrible deaths. Eventually, he decides to go home from work and see if his long-time girlfriend is okay. On the way, a bum which he has been noticing for the last few days on his way to work. The guy attacks MC with a maw of sharp fangs, but MC is saved by a guy with a gun and a machete who messily chops the creature's head off. They start escaping, but more vampires (As the machete guy tells MC) are coming.

    Just when everything looks like it's going to hell in a handbasket, someone starts picking off the vampires, eventually driving them off. When this has been done, the newcomer descends from a spiral staircase, introducing himself as a friend of Machete Guy and carries a large rifle on his back. They go back to their base, where the last member of this bunch of vampire killers is waiting, a female vampire. The four of them go about to discover what is causing all of the vampire attacks, eventually leading to much misery and a full-scale war.

    Now, I have tried to stray away from conventions: The weapons and described battle scenes are not realistic, they are meant to be awesome and gory. There are horror sequences in the story, and my rules for vampires are pretty much those of Bram Stoker's Dracula, with a few changes (Garlic, holy symbols and crossroads? Really? But I gave mercury the effect that holy water had.). Eventually, most of the main characters die and their cause ends up being pretty much forfeit, because the war they are trying to avoid happens anyway. The main villain is the bastard son of Charlemagne the Great who wants to make vampires the superior race, rather than them having to hide their existence out of fear of becoming extinct.

    Now, I have never seen Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Blade or anything like my story (Except for a rather obscure animé named Hellsing). My question is, would this just be another clichéed vampire romp? And if it is, any idea what to do about it? I like the story and my characters, and I would rather not get rid of them.
     
  2. thenewpeter
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    thenewpeter Senior Member

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    I suppose on one hand, at least its not another vampire romance novel.
    It seems ok, but has a very simple and one way plot from what you gave away then. I'd maybe advise, once you've finished your first draft, go back into it and begin putting in conections, give some of the charecters a past that links to the story, alter alot of it from your original, if you don't like what you come out with, then combine the 2.

    If you haven't, you'll also want to give reasons why they saved him, why they've accepted him into thier rank ect.
     
  3. Vintage
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    Vintage Member

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    Don't worry, I have plenty of such details. I just tried to keep my summary as short and sweet as possible, as the story is currently at about 33,500 words. One of the characters also dies halfway through the novel, but becomes important later on. As for their reason to save him... They basically needed a sacrifice to defeat the Big Bad, but the character that dies was the main driving force behind this, meaning that it never happens. I have not yet reached him getting that knowledge, though.

    EDIT: Another thing. I am writing it in English, but my native country is Denmark. Does anyone know if this will be a problem if I ever get around to trying to publish the thing?
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you let your own unique characters drive the plot, the story will be yours.
     
  5. Vintage
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    Vintage Member

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    That is a sound point and probably true. And I also know that there are no "original" plots in the history of litterature. But I am still interested in creating something that will surprise the reader.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't plan so my stories surprise me lol never mind the reader. I know I have one incident in particular that was unexpected very early on in my first book. Everyone that read it came back with I wasn't expecting that to happen.

    It is very difficult to tell a novel length story without adding twists and turned to the plot. Developing characters helps as they are the one thing that is often the most unique, different and fresh about a story.
     
  7. Vintage
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    Vintage Member

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    Well, one of my protagonists' defining moments has her kill a small child. She is trying to evacuate some people, tells them that anyone who disobeys orders will be killed. And a girl runs to her mother, when they were told to stay together. The character has to kill the girl in order to avoid others following her example. I have tried hard to make believable characters, so I hope I'll be succesful in the endeavour. :p
     
  8. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    This sounds like a cross between a zombie movie (specifically the first quarter of Shaun of the Dead) followed by Blade 3. Not that I'm complaining - those movies were enjoyable enough.

    Don't get caught up on beating Stephanie Meyer at ANYTHING.

    When your friend said "you can't write a better vampire novel", she meant "you can't write a whinier, more self-centred cliche indulgence in romantic fantasy that envisions a world where everyone's boring except YOU and YOUR CROBARRED LOVE INTERESTS who have nothing better to do than fight over and be fought over."

    Vampires and werewolves ("Cold ones" and "shapeshifters", so they don't get immolated by daylight or rely on a white rock in the sky for their juju) are besides the point - it's just childish escapism for the reader. It's not a "vampire" novel, it's a story about a gormless chick engaged in paper-thin romancings with a cardboard cutout and a lump of rare steak that just so happens to involve vampires.

    Don't try to beat the kids at sewer wrestling: In the end, everyone loses and your socks smell bad.
     
  9. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Make the vampires NOT sexy, flawlessly beautiful or loaded with attitudes, and you'll end up with something fresh.

    I'd like to see one that really turns readers off from the whole vampire idea. One where they're no better than cursed drug addicts. A revival of Nosferatu, perhaps.
     
  10. Vintage
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    Vintage Member

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    Pretty much what I had in mind, yeah. Well, the zombie movie inspiration was. Never seen any of the Blade movies, though I might when I'm finished. I'd rather avoid the risk of copying anything up until then, though.

    The rules I have set up for my vampires:

    They are unable to survive sunlight, unless they are extraordinarily old and powerful.
    Vampires have improved senses, strength, movement speed and reflexes compared to humans.
    Transformation requires the vampire to drink some of the intended victim's blood and the victim to drink some of the vampire's blood.
    Transformation is followed by a period in which the new-born vampire is little more than an animal, caring only for feeding and killing. This can last months, years, decades or may never go away, depending on the person. This will always come into effect, regardless of how "special" the affected person is.
    They cannot cross large bodies of water by themselves.
    Vampires do not just have four small, cute fangs for feeding. Their mouths are more akin to sharks than, say, lions. And those teeth do not leave clean wounds.
    Some vampires, especially in their feral state, enjoy the taste of flesh.
    Elder vampires may gain the ability to transform into, e.g., monstrous bats, large hounds, mist or something different. In-universe, the hound transformations are the explanation for werewolf myths - as such, the book contains no werewolves.
    Really old vampires may even gain special abilities, such as flying in their normal form, transforming into shapeless, Lovecraftian horrors or likewise. The main antagonist of the book can manipulate people's blood - even while it is still inside of them.

    I have so far avoided making any "vegetarian" vampires - they need human blood to survive, which means that the one of the protagonists who is a vampire, does kill people for food on occasion. I'm not trying to make my vampires seem good in any way, even when they do, for the most part, have nice personalities. Even the character herself acknowledges that she is a monster. So yeah.

    Basically, this sums it up.
     
  11. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd have to agree with tcol4417. Your story can't compete with the Twilight series, because it's not in the same category. If you want to prove you can write better than Stephanie Meyer, you need to write a romantic vampire novel aimed at teenage girls.
     
  12. tcol4417
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    I'd see the Blade movies as soon as possible, there's not really anything unique to copy but it's just good for getting into a badass groove.

    Vampires are bad, except for Wesley Snipes who is good but the typical "Jerk" hero. Then there's a fight scene, people get shot, stuff blows up, Ryan Reynolds takes his shirt off and Jessica Biel takes ALL of her clothes off, but it's a "tasteful" nude scene so it's ok.
     
  13. Vintage
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    Well, that is true. But the girl who gave me this challenge has read what I already have and admitted to enjoying it, although she thought that it needed more visual descriptions, which is probably right.

    Say... How does one go about with getting a review? Does one just email it to one of the reviewers? I'm still not finished, but I have written about 2,000 words today, so it should be on the way.

    EDIT:


    Here's my primary influence. The trailer conveys the overall series well, although it does make the overall series look quite silly. The Japanese trailer is better, but more confusing to new viewers. And yes, they added an L in Hellsing. Bram Stoker's heirs have been pretty vicious with their copyrights the last few years.
     
  14. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    Hellsing's been around for a while, though I'm getting the impression that your story has more of a "survival horror" vibe to it. I'd keep an eye on your realism-meter with the whole "return to base" thing in your description: Just remember that Integra was the heir to a long line of vampire slayers and Alucard is Dracula bound to her for whatever reason (I'd imagine the manga elaborates more than the anime), whereas your MCs seem to be a bunch of teenagers with guns.

    I'd steer clear of making your story too "mercenary", because having that kind of militaristic advantage without threats to counter them (remember that the Hellsing organisation had to compete with the Vatican among others) just makes your characters overpowered, turning most readers off.

    Take the girl's feedback with a pinch of salt - remember that she's into loving rivers of loving love, so a badass orgy of hot lead probably isn't her thing. PM me and I'll see what I can do, but don't expect any mercy.
     
  15. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I'm not putting down Twlight or anything, but I don't entirely understand the sexy thing. It came way before the author wrote that series, so she can't be blamed.

    Anyway, when I think seriously about a vampire as a real person, they would have an EXTREMELY unsual psychology. If they were just a hungry zombie and had a normal to high IQ, could you imagine how being a vampire would change your world view? What, besides blood, would motivate such a person and how would they adjust to their lives? I doubt such a person would be pleasant to be around. Even if they looked sexy I don't think they would be sexy in attitude and behavior.

    Personally, I wouldn't want to know a vampire and being one doesn't appeal to me too much. I'm certainly a fan of the evening, but not eating other people, and I love garlic, so there's that.

    OP:

    I think the best you can do with vampires is to play with their origin. Anne Rice did that nicely. If you do that, then you can invent you're own weaknesses for them. They can be allergic to other herbs, chemicals, etc. Maybe they can come out in sunlight, but the smell of people is overwhelming, or whatever.

    I haven't read about vampires since Anne Rice in the 90s and that's because I'm not interested in the weird romantic-serial killer image, but if I learned someone had created a whole new vampire system, I might pick the book up.
     
  16. Vintage
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    Vintage Member

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    I'm not really interested in much else besides making them appear far more feral. Y'know, like actual predators. As I mentioned before, "my" vampires are incapable of producing oxytocin, so they are incapable of bonding to other beings, and therefore far less likely to be compassionate creatures. Even the "good" vampire in my book is a merciless killer. She isn't happy about it, but she does not feel remorse for each kill at all. In addition, she also angsts over the burden of immortality and seeing people around you die. But only once, though - I don't think that should be overdone.

    But yeah, the market is flooded with vampires as-is, and I doubt this is going to be some big break or anything like that, especially since it is my first novel. But if just one person likes it, that would make me happy. :p
     
  17. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    A friend of mine likes the Twilight series, but she said that she's ready for some truly rotten vampires, and it sounds like she's placed her order with you! Will your MC be a vampire, and will you portray them as a tortured hero or what?
     
  18. Vintage
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    No, the MC is not a vampire. There is a summary in my OP. And yes, tortured hero is probably the closest description, albeit I am not trying to shed a positive light on their actions - I think that when writing a story, I will leave it up to the audience to decide whether or not they like this or that character and whether the character's actions are right or wrong. I can P.M. you a short excerpt that I personally like and that I think showcases what I mean, if you are interested.
     
  19. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    Sure, ship it out!

    It'll give it a look tonight.
     
  20. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Ok, seriously, were you just watching LOADS of Japanese anime or something!?

    Maybe it's just the way I imagined it from your description, but I can't see it working in written prose. I just can't.

    On the other hand, it would work well in Japanese anime or Manga settings. Different mediums are suitable for different types of stories - for example, there're a few anime movie classics that wouldn't have worked in any other medium, and they're some of the best films I'd ever seen.

    If you wanna stick with your machette stuff, please write it as an anime/manga. In western-style prose, it's gonna be very, very difficult to pull off I think.

    Or yeh, go watch The Underworld and Blade. But even then, it only works because it's a movie - not prose - and on top of this, The Underworld was rubbish bar the very cool costumes - and neither vampire film were exactly rated for their depth and class.

    Perhaps play the RPG Vampire the Masquerade? I hear that's got tonnes of excellent stories in it.

    For a love story, for example - this isn't too original but it's heart-wrenching enough: vampire falls in love with human. Vampire society disapproves of this, and therefore locks the vampire up until his thirst for blood becomes uncontrollable. Just as he's going stir crazy, they release him into a room where his loved one is tied to a chair. Due to his extreme thirst, he pounces on her and drinks her dry, and realises what he's done far too late.

    Unoriginal, I suppose, but memorable. I've only seen this scene once on the game and that was some 3 years ago, and I still remember.
     
  21. Vintage
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    Vintage Member

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    Some, yes. But only one that can really inspire anything in this vein. While I know that the general consensus is that "animé is just two haired monkeys preparing their energy attacks for thirty episodes before making a stupidly gratuitous fight scene", it does not apply to all of them, not even by a far stretch. If you wish to disagree with this, I suggest you go watch Death Note, then tell me what you thought of it.

    My first intention was going for a graphic novel, but I never managed to find an illustrator. But here's one of the fight scenes in the novel. I am interested in what you think of it:

    Please note that I am not saying that you are wrong - I know that this kind of thing is better suited for comics, but it is simply not possible for me to produce one.
     
  22. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Lol yeh, I know it depends on which anime you watch, it's true. Depends on the genre a lot, but usually anime geared for adults tend to be excessively violent, even if the story happens to be good/deep/well-thought-through. Even children's anime revolves much around fighting - I grew up with Sailor Moon lol. "In the name of the moon, I will punish you!" :D

    Your fight scene reminds me a LOT of the different anime films that I've seen on the Sci-Fi channel, probably rated 15 or 18. I can visualise the whole thing in anime. I'm a little confused about who's who though. Reminds me a bit of Battle of Angels, if I remembered the title correctly. Only seen it once - a scientist saves the head of this girl robot and reconstructs her body. She's lost all her memories but turns out she's a "battle angel". Speaking of anime, have you seen Vampire Princess Miyu? Again, I've only seen it once, the movie version, not the series. But it was quite creepy.

    You could try it in prose, I suppose. If you manage to pull it off, it would be something quite original and might even spark off a new genre of writing altogether! But yeh, I'd say graphic novel's better - even Twilight has a Manga version now, it's being sold in England, can you believe it?

    Hmmm, I've never really drawn fight scenes and the like - I haven't practised in a good long while, but if you told me how you'd like your character to look, and gave me some online examples of the sorta style you're after, I could have a dabble at drawing it. I'm good at adapting. (and yeh, I draw and used to draw a bit of manga. Not very well, but that was the first style I ever tried to copy.) And were you looking for western illustrators or for manga illustrators? You may have a better pick of artists in the east as the manga culture is still very strong over there.

    If you want to write an original vampire story, and clearly you're into mixing genres, have you thought of a Japanese vampire story, set in Japan, but in written prose? There're tonnes of those novels set in China and Japan etc (Memoirs of a Geisha's probably the most famous) so you would also have a source to study from as to how the authors combined the alien cultural settings with the English language. Or maybe a comedy about a Japanese vampire in a kimono taking a holiday in England/US/somewhere western.
     
  23. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I don't understand why it has to be a comic? I've read plenty of books that are all action, and the author just describes the action instead of drawing it. Is that what you're worried about?
     

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