I just wanted to share something I wrote in response to a (partially negative?) review I recently got. The reviewer was basically dismayed that I had vampires in my story with implications to the currently blood-saturated market, if you will. I admit, I hadn’t been prepared for such…an intense…review. On the positive side, they did also point out very critical flaws and discrepancies I overlooked and I was truly grateful for the review in general (hence the partially). So below is what I wrote in response. I plan to only post on the workshop the first paragraph for relevancy’s sakes (the workshops about critiquing, not going on soap boxes after all).
I would just like to say that I found your review most helpful and thank you, by the way, for the preceding bit of warning (I mean that with all sincerity). You had some very valid points indeed and it was as if you had answered the small voice in my head because I was in fact aware of certain points in the chapter(s) where I questioned a lot of things, one of them being the “mysteries” surrounding Auri and what not and the seemingly illogical sequence of events. I just didn’t want my story to appear contrived and “scripted,” if you will, so I guess in my rush to get the story down, the “air of mystery” that I was shooting for was turning out to be more like a “suffocating shroud of darkness.” (^.^;) But as with any work in progress, it is…just a work in progress. That is, after all, why I’m in this workshop: to get constructive criticism so I can improve. Still, I’m delighted that I was, at least, able to pique your interest from the first chapter. From a newbie writer like myself, it means a lot when a stranger comes to care anything at all about my characters.
Now, about the vampire thing.
Though I do share similar views about the overwhelming saturation of vampires on the current market, I do think that there are authors out there who still haven’t had a chance to tell their stories. I agree, there are many recycled plots out on shelves now, traditional and otherwise, using vampires as literature devices, and it does make me cringe, trust me. (Especially in urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and erotica.) Not to put blame on anyone, but I can’t help but think that the explosion of the Twilight Series, the Vampire Diaries, and True Blood TV franchise really did and still does tarnish many a silver pen worldwide.
Personally, I became intrigued by the idea of vampires ever since I watched a Japanese novel-turned film entitled Vampire Hunter D many years ago, perhaps sometime in the mid-90s. I loved the concept of vampires then (and still do). Now, though, when I browse for books to read and encounter a synopsis mentioning vampires, I do two things. First, I get excited. Second, I get suspicious and then weary. Very, very weary. I wonder…Will it be another Vamps vs. Wolves fiasco? Will it be another team Edward vs. team Jacob shenanigan? Will it be some wild, bloody throe in the hay or goth-club ménage à trois? (Don’t ask how I got that last one) Trust me, I share your sentiments almost to the dot. My point is, the market is just that: a market.
Whatever fad is going on will soon die out and be replaced by another. So it may be vampires now, zombies tomorrow, and then angels the day after that, or all three within the next week/month/year, who knows. But there are dedicated readers out there who will not be phased by these fads. I know because I’m one of those readers. True, I’m sick and tired of reading microwaved plots or just ones that are really nonsensical and absurd. I can’t count how many times I’ve been disappointed with vampire novels out there, and having to deal with the frustration of having wasted my time. But I’ll still pick one up if it sounds intriguing and atypical enough for my tastes (which is very particular now, btw). Why? Because I’m willing to take the chance to immerse myself in a good story and I’ll never get tired of the vampire concept. Just like others won’t get tired of say, fairies. I know I’m not the only one out there feeling this way. It’s just a matter of taking a little longer in the searching/browsing process and sticking to authors who fancy one’s tastes. (I, for instance, personally can’t get enough of Kresley Cole’s IAD series.)
It’s tough writing a story when everyone else seems to already know how the plot goes, but I guess we live in an interesting time and the challenges that come with it may or may not be rewarding for those who are willing to take it up. Take space-opera for example, there are so many story possibilities that I personally think for the niche genre to die out, it would be akin to taking down all the stars in the universe that they are so set in. Look at the explosion of Star Wars and Star Trek. Aliens. Avatar. It’s amazing. And it’s because of their stories—they’re unique and they have substance and they mean something to people. But they’re all generally about space and aliens, essentially. Aren’t they just as fictional as Vampires? Witches? Dragons? The stigma surrounding vampires in particular is the result of the current, overrated fad in the market and media. So, like the unphased reader who chooses to plow through all the recyclables in search of that gem, why too, can’t the author strive for originality and go digging in their proverbial mines?
So you see, that’s the challenge. I think every writer who wants to write a meaningful story will realize the challenge of trying to create a story that 1) comes from their heart, 2) will impact their intended readers in a meaningful and positive way, and 3) won’t haphazardly retell a story that’s already been told. It can be done because it’s already happening…it’s just that book retailers are much like the news nowadays in that they only show you what they want to sell, and they like to make that money. And perhaps too many writers out there are too worried about the prospects surrounding this challenge that they end up putting their pen down. But it’s always nice when the ones that don’t fall prey to this intimidating road manage to capture an audience who were moved by the story they created and the characters they brought to life, no matter how small the theater. : ]