Tags:
  1. a.s.89
    Offline

    a.s.89 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0

    Lost in the world of mythical creatures:

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by a.s.89, Jul 27, 2009.

    For nearly two years now I have been trying - with several failed attempts - to write a novel. I feel like my ideas, however, aren't up to par... either that, or someone has "already done it".

    Lately, I've been interested in doing one of two (or both) novels; one a fantasy romance novel, and the other a culture of mythical creatures with coups, bloodline feuds, hot-tempers on the brink of exploding... something more involved and complicated than a romance. I haven't figured out what I'm doing for the second of the two, but the first I've got a pretty good general idea.

    My problem is that I'm afraid it'll get written off as a Stephenie-Meyer-copycat, and that'll be the end of my novel. Like Twilight, it'll involve a human and some sort of fantasy creature (of whose kind I've yet to invent... simply because it seems as though all the "good" mythical creatures have been taken and people are tired of seeing the same things over and over again), but a plot that is more complicated. I can't reveal the entire thing here, because I'm too paranoid that someone will see my idea as a good one and take it for themselves - I guess that's the risk I run by even putting this on a public forum.

    But in any case, how does everyone feel about romances between fantasy creatures and humans? Are they passé? Is that just one of those things that people feel has "already been done"? Overused?

    And what about the influence of werewolves in literature? After Twilight, it seems as though the bulk of people don't want any more werewolves nor want to consider them, even if the storyline is thick and complicated.

    I'm sure there's been many Twilight-related threads here, and I'm sorry if I've dredged up yet another conversation about the wickedly popular Meyers. Personally, I feel as though Twilight has just made everything overdone... whether it's romances, mythical creatures, or whatever. And I know that's not true, but that's the vibe I'm getting from my work. Does anyone have anything different to share?
     
  2. Banzai
    Offline

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Messages:
    12,871
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Reading, UK
    Twilight hasn't made anything overdone, except badly written "paranormal romance" (as Waterstones has dubbed it).

    Being a good writer means that you can take an idea that has been done a thousand times, and write it in such an original and entertaining way that it doesn't matter how many times it has been done.
     
  3. murphcas
    Offline

    murphcas Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    In a fantasy world
    I agree with Banzai. If you have this idea that you really want to work with do it, but make it so it's original in it's own way.
    Personally, I don't think romance between humans and fantasy creature is passe. Right now the story I'm working on may contain some of a romance between a human and a sorcerer (not entirely sure yet).
    oh and I just want to clear one thing up. You ask if Twilight overused werewolves, but they are NOT werewolves they are shapeshifters. Werewolves transform during the full moon while shapeshifters can transform whenever they please. Meyer's even corrects herself in the last book by having Jacob say they're more like shapeshifters. I personally don't think werewolves are used enough. (Compared to the vampire anyway) I think using a werewolf in a story and creating your own image of them is something more people should try to do. (haha yeah I'm a sucker for werewolves)
     
  4. a.s.89
    Offline

    a.s.89 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've often thought of that... not directly as you've put it, but just off-handed, how a good writer can make an idea that's been done and done turn out to be it's own unique spin. But I've just never been able to believe that myself, and I've quit my stories far too many times to figure it out. But thank you so much for bringing that up, because I definitely needed to hear that.

    And ah yes, the shapeshifters... Well people generally just classify them as "werewolves" because that's how she referred to them in the book, but you're right. I do have a desire to do a werewolf story (perhaps not the romance story), though I'm not enamored by the whole anthropomorphic-type werewolf. I prefer the actual transformation into wolf form... but that's another subject. :p

    I guess I'm just put off a bit by these insanely popular stories... afraid that if I make a story about witches and wizards that I'll be characterized as a JK Rowling-wannabe, or if I do a story about werewolves or vampires then it'll be seen as another Twilight ripoff. I've been criticizing my work far too much than I think I need to.
     
  5. murphcas
    Offline

    murphcas Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    In a fantasy world
    I know exactly how you feel about the criticizing part. The first few chapters of the story I'm working on right now have been re-written so many times I can't even keep up. It's because I criticize myself a lot too. My creative writing professor gave us all this advice (which is my advice to you):

    Don't read through your story until it's all done. Just sit and write and don't go over it. When you're done put it aside for a day or so then go back and read through it and make corrections. Repeat the process as many times as you wish.

    I haven't fully done this yet but I'm really trying to.

    P.S. I am also put off a bit by these insanely popular stories but I try my best to ignore it so I'm not so intimidated.
     
  6. Anders Backlund
    Offline

    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    Messages:
    244
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Land of Lagom
    I think you are being too hung up on originality. To be perfectly honest, I consider originality to be overrated in this day and age.

    Don't get me wrong, of course it's never good to be blatantly copying another writer. But the simple truth is, after five thousand years of literature, there are no truly original ideas left - pretty much everything has been done one way or another. Anything you write is going to be at least partially reminiscent of something else, either by sheer accident or through conscious emulation.

    Lately, though, I've noticed a worrying trend where everyone stresses absolute originality as some kind of fundamental principle of writing. It's getting to the point were you can't even write homages, pastiches or spiritual successors without being accused of ripping someone off. Of course, this is completely ridiculous - there is nothing wrong with imitating something you like.

    Rather then obsessing over the ways your story is similar to Meyer's, take a look at the way its different. Try to emphasize that, or get inspiration from some other story you like. or take an old idea and give it an unusual twist. Just don't worry so much. Rather then writing a Twilight knock-off, try to write a better book then Meyer did. Let's be honest here, it can't be that hard.

    Mash it all up, go with the flow, try to have fun! A story is a living thing that grows as you are working on it. If you just write the story you want to write, the story that is born from everything you've read and loved in your life, then it will become original on it's own.

    I don't mind them, but... I'd say it's never a good idea to make a human/nonhuman pairing just for the sake of having a human/nonhuman pairing.

    What's important is that these two characters are legitimately a good couple, with an interesting relationship and good chemistry and character dynamics. If one of them happen to be a vampire or a fairy or whatever, that's just plot. Try to write their romance so that even if they were both humans, it would still work and the readers would still accept it.

    Seriously, stop getting hung up on what "people" want. What matters is what you want.

    Personally, I have nothing against werewolves. There's one in the story I'm writing right now, in fact. They tend to appeal to a rather specific audience, though.

    Like most classic monsters, the werewolf concept has a symbolic meaning. The reason we see way more vampire romances then werewolf romances is that the vampire is the ultimate "bad boy", the deceptive beauty and the dangerous temptation. There's a lot of sexual allegory there to work with.

    Werewolves, on the other hand, represent the untamed nature and the animalistic side of humanity; the primal instincts we still carry around behind our civilized facade and try not to acknowledge. They can still be romantic creatures, but in a somewhat different way.

    One thing to keep in mind is that things become popular because they work. A lot of people genuinely like reading romances, and a lot of people genuinely like reading about mythical creatures. That's why we get a lot of books with those things in them.

    It comes down to this: Some things are more popular then others. You can either roll with that or break the pattern and go for something different. Either way is just fine, but there is no magical formula or concept that will ensure that your book becomes an instant winner. You just have to try to write the best damn book you possibly can, regardless of what it's about.
     
  7. Gallowglass
    Offline

    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,617
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    Loch na Seilg, Alba
    If you want to write something, write it.

    Assume that everything has been done. What you're writing probably has. Whilst originality is good, it's very hard to think of something original, and readers would rather read something that's been done many times to something that is new. It's just their style; if they've read something once and enjoyed it, they'll probably read something similar.

    Why use werewolves? Or, better yet, why use them as people know them? Why not look into regional opinions on werewolves? No mythical creature is universal; there are some excellent Chinese local traditions. You could even look into Celtic and Norse mythology. I find the former more interesting as it has obvious links to Hinduism and the ancient Middle East, as well as more typical European myths, but I'm a Gael, so I would ;)

    Take an idea that many people have used and put it into a context that few people know.
     
  8. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,915
    Likes Received:
    10,107
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    I agree with Gallowglass that although there is nothing wrong with the use of werewolves and vampires.... There are ssssooooooooooo many unused creatures from uncounted mythologies across the globe and through the epochs of time about which one can write.

    Go searching through the internet and have a look at what is available and pick something that fits with the theme of the story you are writing.
     
  9. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    Don't worry about the "all ready done it" part. Do you have any idea how many thousands of versions of Cinderella are out there, whether they are obvious retellings or not? Make it your own, and people will want to read it.
     
  10. Marcelo
    Offline

    Marcelo Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    841
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Sonora, Mexico
    Like the book Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, by Gregory Maguire. It is a retelling of the Cinderella story, from the eyes of none other than her stepsister. :D
     
  11. Faith*Hope*Love
    Offline

    Faith*Hope*Love Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2009
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Personally, I think there are so many S.M immitators out there that your safe. As long as you don't steal her basic structure of Twilight.Theres the House of Night series, which I am reading, which is different from Meyers entirely, but people write it off as yet another vamp novel for those crazed teen girls. (as myself. haha)

    I think you should write as you want. Anything you write will go down on paper as your unique self.
     
  12. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    Keep in mind that most of those were not actually immitators. Considering how long it takes to get a book published, they were probably working on them long before Twilight came out, and there were other similar books before she came along. More often than not, it was a case of them getting accepted because the publishers knew they would sell, rather than people writing that type of book because a certain book was popular.
     
  13. Kamille
    Offline

    Kamille New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    OP; decide what it is exactly that you want to write. Do you want to write books that are popular? Or do you want to make an artistic statement? As many other posters here have stated, the only thing so special about the current batch of pulp fantasy is that it's written well. Writers like Meyer and Rowling know how to keep us at the edge of our seats. If that's the kind of writing you want to do, you need only practice your prose as much as possible. My advice is to start writing good fanfiction until you're good enough at changing names and places to where they're no longer recognizable. As long as you have enough imagination to lift other people's words without being accused of plagiarism (90% of fantasy), or even if you have the privileged of writing in someone else's world (see: Kevin Anderson), you should be fine.

    If you don't want to write pulp, then you have to concern yourself with themes, symbols, your point, what statement you are trying to make, etc. "A mighty book needs a mighty theme," Herman Melville said. You writing need only be passable if it inspires people to think about things. If it's fantasy you like, you can still do that and be 'literary.' But it will take some time. You will have to build a lot from scratch in order to bring something new into the world. Take solace in the fact that it took Frank Herbert near 15 years of research before he started writing Dune.
     
  14. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    Vampire novels remain popular. The hard part is pitching it so that it sounds fresh. It will be hard to do that in a synopsis or query letter. I guess try to point out what makes it fresh or different--sets it apart from the pack, pun intended.
     
  15. a.s.89
    Offline

    a.s.89 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Wow, I didn't expect to get so many replies... but thank you all for your insights!

    I'm so glad you've brought this up, because I'm on quite the creativity high at the moment. You are all very right, and I never thought about it before, but all ideas have to come from somewhere. I'm sorry my post is so short, but I wanted to get in a quick thank you to you all!
     
  16. tcol4417
    Offline

    tcol4417 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Sydney, AU
    a.s.89

    Your choice depends on your objective - if you're writing for yourself, then write for yourself. If you're writing for the market, then write for the market.

    I think it's a little fatalistic for people to say that everything has been tried. Granted, many of the obvious routes have been well worn (comes part and parcel with being obvious) but there's always room to move. Relationships between the mythic and mundane have been around since the time of ancient myths, so calling them passe would be like saying that air is overrated.

    There are people who say it, but don't pay any attention to them.

    I would strongly suggest choosing the species of your character before going any further, the reason being that emotional conflicts that will arise in the future and their resolutions will depend on the attributes your character symbolises.

    Vampires are iconic of isolation and loneliness as they are unable to dwell in the sunlight and are rebuked by the "righteous" living people.
    Werewolves are iconic of rage and the internal struggle for self-control because of their innate link to an animal identity.
    Don't pick anything too esoteric, but a little homework with any given mythical species will give you a slew of interesting paths that your character will be forced to take.

    My greatest grudge against Twilight is the insistence of making the characters "cold ones", effectively granting them immunity to sunlight, holy water and everything that makes them vulnerable to begin with.

    Ed effectively becomes that annoying little five-year-old kid that ruins the game by exclaiming "I've got an everything-proof force-field!".
     
  17. HorusEye
    Offline

    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,215
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Denmark
    Vampires and werevolves have a problem in the sense that everyone has a preset oppinion about them when they hear the names. Either a negative one "Oh no, not another emo goth vampire thing..." or a fanatic fan attitude "Hey, this story totally violates how real vampires are like." as if there was such a thing as real vampires. To free yourself from everyones preconceptions you could rename them as your own invention, or use a less popularized type of creature from myths - and like others have said here, there are tons of them. You just have to dig a bit into the myths.

    A highly underrated mythical shapeshifter is the hindu Rakshasa. This is one of my own favourites... just say the name out loud. RAKSHASA. It is a magical name :)

    Here's a link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rakshasa

    Truly nasty beings, too. More so than vampires and werewolves combined, in my mind. How is the rakshasa to embrace his human love, when his fingers are poisonous? Plenty of conflict and opportunities for redemption in them too.

    Cheers
     
  18. Marcelo
    Offline

    Marcelo Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    841
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Sonora, Mexico
    "Rakshasas are a populous race of supernatural humanoids who tend toward evil..."

    But!

    "some of them as heroes, most of them as villains."

    Yeah, things are gettin' better.

    "Powerful warriors, they resort to the use of magic and illusion when unsuccessful with conventional weapons. As shape-changers, they can assume various physical forms, and it is not always clear whether they have a true or natural form."


    Cool.

    "Rakshasas are cannibals, and make their gleeful appearance when the slaughter on the battlefield is at its worst..."

    _________________________________________________________________

    I like this, HorusEye just gave you awesome material (And even though it was awesome, I'm sorry to tell you you cannot post links!). Maybe most Rakshasas feed on humans, except yours. He is disgusted by the idea. He even falls in love with a human girl, breaking the codes of the Rakshasas. So he and his lover are gonna be hunted. Oh, damn! More problems and conflicts!

    Just wanted to point out this. If you don't like the magically-sounding name of the Rakshasas (because maybe you're looking for something more... Easy to remember), you can call them for their alternative name, 'raksha', or simply search for a similar name in folklore and mythology)

    Anyway, good luck with everything. ;)
     
  19. *BK*
    Offline

    *BK* Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm glad I read this because I was worried about the originality of my piece that I'm currently working on. I guess I will quit overthinking and add my own spice to the subject matter. Although my characters are a little more on the original side, it is the story that I was worried about being over-used..
     
  20. HPandtheMI
    Offline

    HPandtheMI Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2009
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree with everyone else! If you want to write it, write it! Have you ever read Vampire Diaries? It was written more then 10 years before Twilight and they have very similair plot lines... Yet, both are loved by a lot of people.... Personally I have nothing against Werewolves but I am sick of Vampires!!!! But I do know tons of people obssessed with them... I'll stick with wizards :) Faeries, and tons of others are cool too :)
     
  21. Marcelo
    Offline

    Marcelo Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    841
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Sonora, Mexico
    Vampies and Werewolves appear in my story. But, there are not only these. There's also Arthurian Legends, Greek Myth, Norse Myth, Celtic Myth, and many other fantastic beings and places. Also, my story takes place just a few years after World War I and before the Great Depression, so I guess this makes it different enough for my liking.

    Just play with the setting, the time, the characters' flaws, other legends similar to vampires, and things like this and you'll sure get your original plotline.
     
  22. Operaghost
    Offline

    Operaghost Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    0
    cryptozoology

    I Write a lot of horror stories and often look for inspiration to get away from the norm, i have found a wealth of material in the realms of crptozoology which looks at the subject of unexplained animals or creatures and has many mythical beings and beasts which can be used to great affect. Looking at ancient cultures mythology is also good as well. i currently have a series of horror western screenplays i am writing based on native american mythology
     
  23. amateur
    Offline

    amateur Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    England
    all i am going to say is good luck everyone here has given alot of advice that will help alot. I don't believe in luck but it can always help
    never give up just because it may seem alike does mean it's is
     

Share This Page