Archive for September, 2014

On Feeding

Posted: September 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

We have a guest post today, submitted by Blue Francis Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon and narrator of Seduction of an Innocent, my second novel. Leave comments and questions for Blue below.

I haven’t been ashamed of myself over the realities of this life. Raven called it survival when he taught me to jab my teeth into some soft flesh and let the blood flow. We only ever called it feeding and treated it like one might a grocery store visit or a hot dog stand. Just take what you need.

It meant killing. Taking some other life to sustain mine.

But I never felt guilty.

Instead I wondered at the renewal of human life. No matter how many we and other vampires killed, there were always more available.

And the blindness they had toward it. Three bodies found in a dumpster, must be the mafia. Vegas showgirl found naked and drained in a motel room, must be an overdose. I left one girl in the driver’s seat of her own car. Coroner called it suicide.

They didn’t want to examine the tears in the body’s neck. They didn’t want to weigh it and discover it was lighter than it ought to be. They didn’t want to look around and wonder which of the beings among them could have done it.

Death by vampire is an intimate thing. It’s not random like a terrorist’s bomb. It’s not distant like a gun. There’s not the jerking, jarring confusion of a car crash or the weightlessness of falling off a bridge or a building.

Death by vampire requires proximity, nearness. The kind of chest-to-chest or chest-to-back closeness that most people reserve for beings they trust.

Putting my mouth against her neck I can smell and taste everything about her. The odor of menstruation and the stench of damp armpits as well as the attempts to hide those smells: the roll-on antiperspirant and the feminine spray. I can smell the lotion on her legs and taste the perfume on her neck. I can smell the cosmetics she’s pasted across her face and the residue of conditioner in her hair.

It is as intimate as one person can be with another. Especially if I’ve seduced her first. Then there’s the faint taste of surrender, of desire, of her longing for something real and sexy and exciting.

That’s when she tastes best, when she’s dreamt this moment and is now living it. When she knows she’s wanted and doesn’t care how.

Then there’s that inevitable release of waste and as indecorous as it is, I’ve never been anything but pleased with it. There’s a sense of freedom that comes from that final letting go.

Death by vampire can be quick and violent. It can be filthy, marred by the various fluids and expulsions of ecstasy and expiration. But it always requires that I am close to the kill. And even so, I have never felt guilty about it.

Those on whom I feed are not victims. They make choices same as I do. And they lose. Theirs is a more fragile existence than my own. But I don’t feel any worse for them than an owl might for the mouse or a lion for the gazelle. It is simply their misfortune that they are not me.

Death comes to everyone. Sometimes it is dignified, sometimes it is pitiful. All things that live must die and I am no steward of death. I am only a creature with a survival instinct like every other creature on the planet. All creatures are predators and all are prey. And death comes for us all. Eventually.


Kill Your Darlings

Posted: September 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

The reigning phrase in revision is “Kill your darlings.” For origins of the phrase, click here.

The idea is that if you love what you’ve written, it’s probably self-indulgent crap.

My dilemma is that the vampire work in progress (VWIP) is now at 130k words and the reigning wisdom in publishing is that adult fantasy should be between 80 and 115k tops.

So I have 10,000 words to cut.

That’s like horror movie slasher-style editing, right? You can’t cull down paragraphs and end up 10,000 words lighter. That’s like saying to lose 10 pounds, focus on 300 calories at a time.

So how does one go about removing such large chunks when every damn word is brilliant? (wink)

I started with maps. I know, probably a little over analytical. But the maps helped me see what scenes were contributing to the story and which scenes were not. Maps can be organized by story arc, geography, chapter, or character. But this is a time travel novel, so I did it by date and location.

Sadly, all of the scenes seem to have something to contribute. (wink)

So I looked at character arcs. Each character was defined and the arc drawn and analyzed for its relevance to the overall novel. I have parallel characters because there’s a whole device about being able to see oneself. I wanted the parallels to be recognizable without being obvious. That required analysis of the decisions they make and the way they respond to the people around them.

Of course I love all these people and their stories matter to me. So another revision tool fail. In fact, I wrote MORE after this step.

Finally, I came up with the defining question. It’s the one I asked with my first novel that helped me really develop what was a skeleton text:

Whose story is this?

Knowing exactly 1) whose story this is, 2) what he/she/they are trying to accomplish, 3) the barriers that stand in their way, and 4) what they’re willing to do to overcome those barriers will answer any revision problems. Define the story.

Then, all sections should be put against this singular test: does this scene contribute to the story? How? Make a list of the contributions and you may find you have duplicates.

For example, I’m building friendship between two characters in the same way in two different places. Are both sections needed? If you’re really tough, like I can be, I make myself articulate exactly how the scene contributes.

Another tip, I used the navigate pane function in Word to easily skip from section to section and remove and re-position whole chunks of the story.

I don’t always kill my darlings (as my blogs will prove) but when I do, I have a method. This is not reckless horror movie slasher shit. It’s actual work. The kind real writers do.