Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Of Revisions and Vampires

So, despite the setbacks of the last couple weeks, I'm here writing my post a little bit early. There's been several revelations I've had recently that I would like to share, a few tips on revising a finished manuscript, before I get into the meat of today's post. In addition to the outpouring of support from friends and family, burying myself a bit in my writing has helped me through some of these days.

First off, I finished my initial revision of my novel, sent it to a few people for opinions and I am preparing to send it in to a professional editor to get it looked at. I'm still not sure it's quite where I want it, but I'm willing to take a break for a little bit while I wait to get a professional opinion. I've got a few new story ideas poking me in the brain that want to see the light of day, one of which I've already started, but it's more the literary equivalent of doodling right now. I'd rather not start another big project before this one is finished.

I've already stated that I like to print my manuscript out in a hard copy to go over it as I'm revising. It can seem like a daunting task, but it's really nowhere near as bad as it seems, staring at that stack of paper. It's just one of those things you sit down and do though. The more daunting thing these days is transferring those changes to the manuscript on the computer. My tip for that, start from the last page and work your way back. One of the things that makes it so difficult to implement changes like that is if you're working from the first page on, then after ten pages or so (or less, depending on how many changes you need to make), your pages don't line up anymore and you start finding yourself hunting through the manuscript for where your changes need to be made. Of course, not many people revise like that, so it's not really that big of an issue.

The other thing I want to discuss in this post is the horrible case of what used to be one of our best horror monsters. Vampires. To get right to the point, it's hard to say if vampires even really count as a horror monster anymore. There are a few cases here and there where they show their old colors; 30 Days of Night and the Blade trilogy are among the best, but even those are getting a bit old. More recently, the Twilight series, The Vampire Diaries, Being Human, and the current trend of urban fantasy books depict vampires as caring, compassionate creatures who are just trying to get by day to day like everyone else. At its very worst, vampires are treated almost like an existing minority, the same as you and me, but just with a few minor differences.

Now, I understand that in this day and age, people aren't really going to accept vampires that turn into mist or giant bats, can hypnotize with a glance and will shrink away from a cross, mirror or holy water. Vampires have had to evolve over time to hold onto their status as monsters, and this can easily be seen in some settings, as they are portrayed as the ultimate predators they are and should be. The current trend though leads them away from being monsters at all, trying to say things you would expect to hear in a group therapy session "Oh, I'm a vampire, but aside from a few small differences, I'm just like you." or "I'm a vampire, but that's ok." The loss of some of their more monstrous abilities is one thing, but giving them new ones just to make them more friendly more human-like is completely unnecessary and an affront to the core of what a vampire is supposed to be.

The question that remains is whether or not the damage done to the vampire by the newer incarnations and popularity can be undone, or if the vampire as a horror staple is finished. This subject could easily be expanded upon to be a book all on it's own, but this is as far as I'm willing to take it for now. I personally don't know why it even happened. Why people felt the need to take something like a vampire and, literally in some cases, bring it into the light. You want something superhuman but light-hearted? Take a look through the fables and legends of any one of a dozen different civilizations and you'll probably find something that fits perfectly. Don't take something and try to make your mark by twisting it into something it was never supposed to be. At the very least, try using your own creativity and try to make something new.

There's a joke that's been made about Twilight and to be honest, it holds a lot of truth to it. It says "He lives in the forest, sparkles in the sunlight, and only eats fruits and vegetables. He's not a vampire, he's a fairy." Under any description, that's what people would call him, but the writer labeled it a vampire, so now we have to deal with the fallout.If we can. That's going to be a horror story in and of itself. Of course, if you want to add your two cents, feel free to leave a comment below and we'll have ourselves a full-on discussion.

~ Shaun

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