Don’t Leave Me!


Can you say that to your own fictional creation?

William_Fettes_Douglas_-_The_Alchemist

I started this vampire story with the intention of it being a short story, but here I am, more than 10,000 words into it and I’m not done yet. I still have more I want to do with these characters, more I want to say. Do I turn it into a novel? Can you work on two novels at the same time? Or should I just start cutting away, burn it in the crucible, reducing it down to its base elements, like an alchemist trying to turn lead into gold? I know as I start revising I’ll be adding more detail, digging a little deeper into characters, expanding descriptions. I’m not sure how much I can cut and keep it in tact. But that’s the thing about short stories, isn’t it? They teach you to write tight, no unnecessary verbiage. Hmm, should I do both with this thing? Keep going and work it into a novel, but also write a short story (or stories) starring my vampire?

Ok, so maybe I’m a little obsessed with it just now. If I can write it well enough to get others obsessed with it as well, I shall be well pleased. (And no, this is not a Regency era/Jane Austen setting. I will not be responsible for “Sense and Sensibility and Vampires”. Although now I think of it, Willoughby’s estate at Allenham might be a good vampire hangout…No! No, I can’t do it. Heresy!).

P.S. I read the Anne Rice short story, The Master of Rampling Gate,  and have  to say I was very disappointed in it. The opening was good, I liked her descriptions, there was a really chilling scene (seriously, I had goosebumps), but the ending fizzled. It really did not live up to the promise of the opening. It’s almost like she gave up, or got bored with it.

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22 thoughts on “Don’t Leave Me!

  1. I say keep writing till the vampire story feels “done” – there is something in your nature that feels compelled to tell that story, and isn’t that why you’re writing in the first place? This is different than your day job – the Fiction Supervisor is not going to call a meeting and tell you that you have to finish this in X number of words and get back to the other story by X date!

    Here is one case in which I agree with the folks who say get it down on the page, and if it’s compelling enough, your editor/agent will tell you whether to cut it down to a short story, leave it as a novella, or tease it into a full-length novel.

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  2. I just can’t let go of this thing. It’s already on my mind when I wake up in the morning, when I go to sleep at night, and pretty much the whole day in between, whether I’m actively writing or not (I don’t actually recall any dreams about it, but it could be I just forget them when I wake up). And I don’t even know where I’m going with it yet! This is bad. Darn good thing I don’t have a deadline on it 😉

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    1. When Junot Diaz spoke at the University, he took a question from an audience member who was lamenting that no matter what he MEANT to write about, he kept coming back to the same type of character and plot point (I forget what it was, exactly.) Diaz told him he had to keep writing that story until he was done with it – again, it was not about marketability, but about clearing one’s soul of the tale s/he has to tell.

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  3. I would say continue. When a story gets hold of you that powerfully it should not be ignored. Go for as long as the story stays with you, or as MaryJ puts it, until it feels “done.” You can always decide at that time whether to condense into a short story or even a series of short stories or finish the novel.

    As for working on two novels simutaneously–yes, it can be done. Why not? Hoewver, based on my own experience, I have found that I can only work on two novels if they are similar in tone. e.g. I can write two grown up books but I can’t write a grown up book and children’s book in parallel because it takes too long to switch mindsets. Since your other novel has a fantasy element and vampires are certainly fantasy (as far as I know!) I don’t see why you can’t write both. Our brains have far more capacity than we use. If you find you are not able to concentrate on both then you can decide which story is more compelling to you.

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    1. Thanks, Venus. I think you make a good point about them being similar stories involving elements of the fantastic. I don’t think I could shift between a juvenile thing and one of these, either.

      The one thing that does bother me about writing two at a time is I don’t want to totally stall on one (probably the first one), and end up not finishing it at all if I get too wrapped up in the vampire thing and lose the fire for the first one.

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      1. D D, You started the first one because the story appealed to you. I am sure even if you temporarily get stalled you will come back to it. That said, if you find that the vampire story will push you too far in another direction then can you write an outline of it and get back to finishing the first one? That way you can always come back to the vampire story later. I had this happen recently where I finished one book in draft form while I am still halfway on two other. At first I thought I could write all three but I couldn’t so I had to make a call to continuing the others in outline form while revising the finished one. I don’t know if that will help — I am sure you will think of what is right for you though. 🙂

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      2. That’s a good suggestion, Venus. I’ve started tacking little notes onto the last page of the story of other ideas for it, so while it’s not a formal ‘outline’ as such, I’m just getting the ideas down as they come to me.

        I may have hit a breaking point with the vampire story, at least for now. I wrote what for me was a tough scene yesterday, tears in my eyes, tissues in hand! Ok, I’m a sap, it doesn’t take much to set off the waterworks 😉 When I read about Jo Rowling weeping as she finished Harry Potter, I thought that sounded a little silly, but now I COMPLETELY understand!

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  4. This sounds like a happy problem, considering you were feeling altogether blocked not too long ago.
    It never rains but it pours, eh? 😉

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  5. True, true! At times, though, I have to say, I feel a little silly writing a vampire story, and being so obsessed/consumed by it. It ain’t exactly the Great American Novel, ya know?

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  6. I’m always a little suspicious of those types who presume to be writing the Great American Novel. The best stories come from the heart & soul – you’ve seen “I Remember Mama.”

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  7. I thought of it when I was reading the Margaret Atwood essay I sent you – the way Atwood says that of course the best storytelling comes from experience, but that you need to realize that your imagination is its own form of experience, just as valid as anything you’ve witnessed with your eyes.

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  8. I am writing the next Great American Novel.

    Joking. I agree with Mary J. You can’t know that you have the Great American Novel until you have written it because up until then the story can go many ways. Besides, the great American novel of the future may be very different from the one in the past and you can’t predict what will happen. What you can do is write your heart out. At the end of the day if you do your best then that’s what counts.

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  9. All very true, Venus. Still, I am fully aware that it’s nothing even close, and that’s ok for now. All I can do is write the stories I have, and even if I never produce real literary art, I can live with that.

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  10. Hey DD,

    I definitely think you should keep going. Obviously this story is really coming from your heart, urging you on.

    And there’s not a darn thing wrong with writing about vampires. Don’t let anything a snob might say get to you.

    For every writer who sits down saying, “I want to write the next Great American Novel”- well, for every Huckleberry Finn, Grapes of Wrath, and Moby Dick- you get a thousand manuscripts of pretentious crap.

    Tell the tale that burns inside of you. Charlotte Bronte’s first novel, “The Professor” was rejected for being too stiff, and wasn’t published until after her death. After that sting, she let go of the need to be overly serious, poured her heart out into Jane Eyre, and history was made.

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    1. Hiya Tasha,

      Thanks for that. It’s a good reminder that we can only write really well when we’re passionate about the subject.

      I didn’t know that about CB. She wrote such passionate, emotionally charged characters, and that’s where the story was. I think you can tell when an author doesn’t love their characters, that’s when they’re wooden, two-dimensional.

      And before you guys think I have any kind of delusions of grandeur 😉 I really have no pretensions of ever writing the GAN. I just don’t think I am that kind of person. I’m more of a down-in-the-trenches type myself. And I’m ok with that.

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  11. I think you would really like Elmore Leonard, if you don’t already. His stuff initially seems like down-in-the-trenches, meat & potatoes crime and cowboy fiction, but the more you pay attention, the more you see what brilliant insights he has into character. Check out the new one, “Road Dogs” – there’s even a psychic in it!

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  12. I’ll have to check into his stuff. I like Lawrence Block a lot, and those two are good buddies, but somehow never got around to reading Leonard. Apparently his nickname is “Dutch” 😉 Larry used to write the fiction column for Writer’s Digest magazine, must be where I read about their friendship. I pretty much quit reading the column and the magazine when he left it.

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