It’s finally happened, friends–after years and years of market saturation and subsequent radio silence–vampires have officially reentered the publishing sphere and I quite literally could not be more excited, oh my GOD, my time has COME.
This means that after considerable time away, I can finally drag my vampire novel work-in-progress kicking and screaming back out into daylight (vampire pun not intended).
Gay vampires! Blood and guts! Delicious sexual tension! Apocalyptic stakes! (vampire pun not intended again, okay, I swear).
I even had a super productive brainstorming session, the likes of which I haven’t experienced in months, in which I had several breakthroughs regarding the (previously) extremely vague second half of this novel.
See here’s the thing you should know about me as a writer–I don’t care that much for plot. At least, I don’t when I have to write it myself–I have been known to enjoy many a plot, in my day, when someone else has to do the hard work to do worldbuilding and take the story from point A to B.
But when I have to do it myself, when the onus of scraping together a coherent narrative with plot beats and escalating action and intriguing twists falls on my easily bored shoulders?
Thanks but no thanks.
Left to my own devices, I would much rather revel all day in the formation of my characters, ideally constructing ways in which I can make them talk about their feelings and then enthusiastically smooch each other. For reasons.
However, I have been “informed” that that is not, in fact, enough to get me through a whole-ass novel.
THAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRYING TO GET PUBLISHED TRADITIONALLY AND JUST WRITING FANFICTION, INNIT? HetPat–who has turned British all of a sudden, perhaps shapeshifting into Ricky Gervais for the purpose of this argument–slimes his way onto the scene, a writing rulebook in his slimy hands, ready to beat me over the head with it. THERE ARE RULES YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW IF YOU WANT TO DO THIS PROFESSIONALLY! AND ONE OF THE RULES IS THAT YOU HAVE TO HAVE A PLOT! A STORY! NOT JUST 300 PAGES OF SELF-INDULGENT SMOOCHY NONSENSE WHERE IT DOESN’T BELONG!
I’ve been doing good worldbuilding, and have a pretty solid working outline with plot beats and story craft galore. And yet, as I gaze down upon my plot-heavy monstrosity with a romantic sideplot if you squint, all I can think of is how bored I am.
How I’m slogging my way through necessary exposition and getting us from point A to point B. How I want nothing more than to abandon the #Plot in favor of just having romantic drama and the payoff of sexual tension between my leads.
Skip the meat and vegetables and go straight to dessert.
I cut HetPat off at the pass–I understand that I have to write a book with a plot, okay? I know I have to keep the publishing world’s expectations in mind if I want to query this at some point. But here’s the thing–didn’t someone once say that in writing, you should write what you want to read? Well, if I was reading this book–not writing it–I would want way more romance. And for goodness sake, my characters are vampires and yet there is a distinct lack of self-indulgent vampire sexiness that would be befitting of my brand, like what the heck.
The most fun I have reading is when I’m reading self-indulgent sexy fanfiction–I should be writing more of that, if that’s what I enjoy.
BUT THEN YOU SHOULD JUST WRITE FANFICTION! YOU CAN DO THAT IF YOU WANT BUT YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW THE RULES IF YOU WANT TO WRITE FOR A REAL AUDIENCE IN THE REAL WORLD! YOU’RE CREATING A WORLD FROM SCRATCH, YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE WORLDBUILDING COME FIRST! YOU CAN’T COAST OFF ANYONE ELSE’S EXISTING WORK! THESE ARE THE CHOICES YOU HAVE TO MAKE–A MAINSTREAM, PUBLISHABLE STORY OR A SELF-INDULGENT FANSERVICE EXTRAVAGANZA, YOU CAN’T HAVE BOTH!
I guess there is something to be said for writing specifically with the intent to publish (versus only writing for yourself). But I can’t just forsake one for the other. I need to find a middle ground that will satisfy my schmoopy, trope-loving heart as well as the part wanting to write a good story from a craft perspective so that I can pitch this book.
But there’s vampires and love triangles and betrayal and I am underutilizing their vampyness in their own story and that just will not do.
Plenty of authors have spoken up on Twitter about how their most elaborate, plot-twisty, worldbuildy novel is not necessarily their biggest hit–V.E. Schwab has said repeatedly that Vicious was likely so widely loved because it was the project she just allowed herself to get carried away in, writing something she thought only she would enjoy.
Clearly, readers can smell books written full of passion coming a mile away, and apparently they eat it up? Because you can tell when an author is having a good time writing something and when they’re not?
Writing is hard enough on the best of days, so gosh dang it I am gonna be here for a good time.
If the trade off is between writing something I enjoy–even if it’s fanservice for myself–and writing something dry and uninspired that technically checks the boxes of what Publishing Wants… then I’m gonna go with the tropey, juicy, indulgent vampire book of my dreams, and HetPat can crawl back into the shadows and suck it.
And yes, that vampire pun WAS intended.