PJ here. To top off our spooky week on All Soul’s day, I’d like to welcome our fabulous final guest, Fran Friel. Take it away Fran!
Inspiration and a Hubby Chat
As proof that inspiration can be found anywhere, I submit the hubby chat. The other night, my hubby and I were talking about the TV show, Vampire Diaries. For the most part, he ignores it when it’s on, but in a moment of unguarded interest (I know he’s actually watching from the corner of his eye), he asked me about the werewolves in the show. “Are they suppose to be stronger than the vampires?” I wasn’t sure, in fact I suspect it depends on what the script writer’s plot needs are for any given episode. As if on cue, our cat yawned, and that girl has some serious fangs.
This lead us to a discussion about Vamp Cats (and yes, we have the oddest conversations), then on to even more fanciful speculation concerning the efficacy of Vamp Turtles or a Vamp Cows. Nah, I thought, too slow, too cumbersome.
But then, my husband, whom is widely read in genre fiction and graphic novels, said, “Fran, it’s already been done.” No way. But after a quick web search, he produced the evidence—Hellcow. http://geek-news.mtv.com/2011/02/24/the-10-best-vampires-in-comics Ikid you not.
What’s the point of all this, you ask? Well, when the Seven Scribes honored me with the opportunity to write their Halloween blog, I was looking for inspiration. What could be more inspiring than Hellcow? And what does Hellcow have to teach us about writing? The art of reinvention.
The Challenge of Reinvention
The Hellcow source was an MTV Geek article on “The 10 Best Vampires in Comics.” http://geek-news.mtv.com/2011/02/24/the-10-best-vampires-in-comics/ Take a look at the link—quite a diverse list. Or you only have to go as far as Twilight, The Vampire Lestat, True Blood, Plain Fear: Forsaken (Amish Vamp from yesterday’s blog) and scores of other vamp stories to see the variations on a theme. Some writers will shy away from writing about a familiar subject, because “it’s already been done,” but as the vampire theme shows us, it can be done again…and again.
So I’m setting a Halloween challenge for you to exercise your writing muscles by using an old theme and reinventing it in your own unique way (in any genre). Here are a few suggestions to start you off:
Choose a common topic, but be sure it’s one that has a spark for you
In the spirit of the day, Halloween themes like ghosts, witches, zombies, etc. are great. And with the winter holidays soon upon us, you could rewrite the Thanksgiving story or Santa’s tale. Or how about pirates, cowboys and aliens? Childhood characters like the tooth fairy, or the boogie man are in serious need of some new digs. Basically, anything that gives you that little zing of inspiration is game. Even common everyday items can be fun. I once wrote a story about homicidal dust bunnies, and another about demonic spuds! And yes, they were both published.
Turn Left Instead of Right
Writing teacher, Terri Brown-Davidson, gave me a suggestion I’ve never forgotten., “When you want to go right, try turning left and see what happens.” As writers, we can get into a rut of comfort or predictability, so as an exercise in the process of reinvention, do the opposite of what you might feel safe doing. Give your story and your characters some unpredictability by challenging yourself to go where you might not normally tread. A little discomfort for a writer can create exciting results.
You’ve heard the saying, “Dance as if no one is watching.” Well, do the same with your writing (at least your first draft)–write as if no one but you will read what you’ve written. Be fearless, and write to entertain, intrigue, or scare yourself. Not worrying about what anyone else will think is very freeing. If it turns out to be brilliant, then you can always share later. But for now, this work is for your eyes only!
Just like Frankenstein returning to life or a vampire being reborn as the undead, the exercise of reinventing old themes can really get the creative juices flowing. If you seek to be brave and step beyond your comfort zone, turning left instead of right down the old worn path, you may find that reinvention extends beyond the story and into your broader writing life. Staying fresh and challenging yourself to expand your reach as a writer is important to the longevity of your career (and your sanity). Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Remember, someone actually wrote a story about a Hellcow and got published. You too can reinvent the impossible!
Happy Halloween, have a wonderful All Souls Day, and Happy Writing!
Fran Friel is a two-time Bram Stoker Award Finalist, winner of the Black Quill Award and former editor at Dark Recesses Press. Her short story collection, Mama’s Boy and Other Dark Tales, and her novella, Beach of Dreams, are available at Amazon and Apex Book Company. Look for her novella, Grid Walker, in the upcoming anthology, Barbers and Beauties, from editor Michael Knost. You can find Fran at Facebook, Twitter, Fran Friel’s Yada Feast.
Thanks for being here, Fran. Love the cat fangs! Anyone want to jump in and tell us what creative re-inventions you’re working on?