Sunday, March 30, 2008

*Gnashing of Teeth*

On the plus side, I have backups for my data that are recent to a month ago.

On the plus side, the version of my manuscript that I sent to an agent recently--less than a month ago, in fact--is backed up to diskette.

On the plus side, our new computer is going to be super speedy and awesome.

On the minus side, I've lost all the writing I've done on my new book unless we can save our old hard drive.


My apologies for my lack of recent posts; I shall try to get back to once-weekly natterings soon!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Archetypes With a Side Order of Vampires and Elves

Any time a type of character becomes popular in fiction, there's a reason why. That character is resonating with something universal in the subconsciouses of its audience.

I think there's merit in writers trying to work out why certain character types do this. If you understand why an archetype resonates with the audience, you can either exploit that to create deeply compelling characters, or eviscerate it to forge a potent social satire. Either way, the reader is going to remember your book.

In this post, Jaye talks about why we love vampires. This is a wonderful bit of serendipity because it's a subject I've been thinking about recently. About a week ago, I came to a conclusion about why we like those sexy, gorgeous vampires so prevalent in urban fantasy. (And on the heels of that conclusion came a story idea. Yippee!) Here's how I explained it in Jaye's comment trail:

I think we like vampires for the same reason we are envious of Paris Hilton's lifestyle. We wish we were perfect, beautiful, powerful, desired and esteemed. We want to live a life of pleasure and excess without any moral reservations. We desire an existence containing all of life's pleasures and none of its pain or responsibility.

In other words, we want to be greedy, shallow and evil without feeling guilty about it or paying for it. And we want this state of affairs forever.

Or to put the same idea in less charged terms, I think we love vampires because they are humanity's most selfish dreams personified.

Of course, that's only one possible explanation. People have lots of reasons for liking vampires--one of the foremost being that bad boys make tremendously sexy love interests, and you can't get badder than a predator.

The best thing about thinking about what makes a certain archetype popular is that if your explanation is right, you will create a story that socks the reader in the gut, and if you're wrong, your story leaves readers impressed with your imaginative re-invention of a character type they thought they'd seen every iteration of. It's a win-win situation for a writer.

As a side-note, I think Tolkien-style elves are popular for reasons similar to vampires', except they lack the component of evil. Tolkien's elves were also beautiful, esteemed and basically immortal. They also didn't seem to have to deal with life's pain, and their responsibilities were clearly not troublesome to them. Like vampires, they lived an apparently graceful existence; the elves weren't bad-asses, however.

This reflects the audience. Some readers respond better to the idea of being perfect and without care, so long as that doesn't mean without morals. For these people, elves rule.


What are your favourite stock characters in fiction? Which ones always capture your heart even though you've seen them in a hundred different guises? Can you pinpoint why they affect you that way? Can you parse what makes humanity in general respond to that kind of character?

And since we're on the subject, are you an elf person or a vampire person? (It's a little like being a dog or a cat person.) :-)

Monday, March 03, 2008


That manic grin you see (or imagine, rather, because this is the internet) plastered all over my mug is due to me getting a request for a full today.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Fangs Ahoy!

Jaye Wells has named March 2008 "National Adopt a Vampire Novel" month.

National? Poo to that! Let's make it international! (I'm in Canada. She's not. It counts. Heh.)

However, my adoption of a vampire novel isn't quite what Jaye suggested. Y'see, to my shock, my brain has apparently decided I'm going to write a vampire novel next.

This is a shock because while I don't mind a vampire rising from the grave page unexpectedly, I'm not a particular fan of either horror or urban fantasy. Generally, I just don't see a lot of vampires in my book choices.

Despite that, my muse is babbling feverishly about all the things you can use vampires as a symbol of. She's feeling quite keen about this, so okey-doke, Muse; we'll write about vampires.

Various agent blogs have mentioned recently that editors are getting tired of vampires, but the agents also note they're still interested in a bloodsucker provided you do something fresh with your dusty old revenant.

I guess that means I had better binge on some quality leech books, so I know what's been done before. Anyone have suggestions? (Note: I will likely enjoy books that have solid plots and raise interesting questions more than those which are all about hawt undead sexxoring. Thanks!)

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