So many stories these days are about Vampires or werewolves. we should really come up with with new fictional characters.
Go for it!
Although FTR, I wouldn't mind a few more well-written shape-shifter stories. I have read quite a few werewolf stories, but none I liked as much as I know I could. (This includes Kelly Armstrong and Patricia Briggs, btw, who everyone always throws at me -- Armstrong did okay but I don't get Briggs's popularity at all.)
I'm not thrilled with how much vampire ROMANCE there is out there, but that's largely because I never bought into the idea in the first place. It's also why the vampires in the fantasy series I have coming up are purely Stoker-esque. Although actually, they're not that important to the story at all. I mostly put them in the first book to help fantasy readers with a bridge of familiarity. The rest of the story focuses purely on human sorcerers, one of the underlying themes being, "There is nothing so evil in this world save what humans can do to one another." (In other words, I don't think we need to create fanged monsters to find bad guys.)
The biggest difficulty with truly new concepts in fantasy is that bridge of understanding. There's a reason that the normal course for literature is slow evolution as opposed to rapid leaps. True change comes when enough new twists on old ideas finally transform into something else. I've seen attempts to bring new creatures into magical worlds, but most of the time it falls flat because there's already a creature who acts that way, it's just being called something different o. So why confuse everyone by calling it a bolk instead of a dwarf?
Excellent Shape-shifter Novels
Although I don't usually read paranormal tales, I recently discovered Nancy Holzner's DEADTOWN novels. The series, which is now up to five titles, is published by Ace Books, a Penguin imprint. Nancy's vampires and zombies are confined to "the combat zone" in Boston, where they hang out in bars at night and some even hold regular jobs in the day. Her heroine, Victory Vaughn, is a shape-shifter who works as Boston's only professional demon slayer and who keeps things in order in between having a love affair with a werewolf lawyer. Vaughn also has a zombie apprentice who's angling to become a pop singer, and a vampire roommate. The stories are very well written and quite witty. According to bestselling author Phaedra Weldon, Nancy's heroine Vicky "totally kicks butt!"
I agree. It would be nice to see another type of unique character. The unique characters people use nowadays are from legends. If there are legends about other types of beings it would be a great idea for a new character. Of course, you can also make up your own :)
I pretty much avoid a novel if it has any reference to vampires or werewolves (or zombies). The main problem for me is that it is mostly either apocalyptic, urban and/or romance and it's all quite similar to each other. On one side I am happy fantasy has become more mainstream than a few decades ago, on the other hand it has become harder to find something original or of quality, but I guess that's more my own problem as there are many who are happy to read much of the same.
As with familiar traits: one problem with vampires is that a human creature only requires to suck blood to be defined as one, while in reality (figuratively speaking) there is so much variation in mythology and in what is created in different fantasy novels that one does not need to hold on to the name. One only uses it for familiarity, to attract readers. In contrast werewolves and dwarves are much more simpler in traits to recognize one. The vampire has no such clear constraints so it has a mishmash of optional attributes, which in my point of view is rather annoying and why I don't like them. As the saying goes: "the only good vampire is a dead vampire". :-)
Maybe, maybe not. People tend to get attached to the familiar stories and settings. Most people don't take risk, and yes that includes books, too. They read stories they are familiar with. They expect to see certain story and are disappointed if they don't.
Same goes with movies. Many complain how Hollywood only rehash the old stories, yet everybody runs to see new Spiderman or James Bond. So why would they exchange the cow that still milks a lot of money for an unknown entity they are not sure would sell well. Many writers do the same, they see vampires and werevolves sell, so that's what they write. As long as readers are buying (and they are) why would they change anything?
I have been asked several times what made me think of bringing history’s most famous wizard into the modern world. The answer, as is so often the case in fantasies, began once upon a time. This once upon a time was 1980 when a collection of short stories by the late, great sci/fi/ fantasy writer Roger Zelazny was released under the title ‘The Last Defender of Camelot’. The title story brought not only Merlin but also Morgana LaFey and Lancelot into the modern world. I have no memory of the storyline itself but at the time I found it fascinating enough that the concept stuck with me for decades. Then, in 2004, when I was living in Ireland, I was given a book that sought to identify the real, historical Merlin – or rather, the two real men named Merlin whose lives were merged to form the fictional character in the Arthurian legends. Both of the real Merlins lived between 500 AD and 700AD which is within two centuries of the time the Arthur tales are supposed to have taken place around 400AD.
While reading this really fascinating book I remembered Zelazny’s story from a quarter century earlier and, as if by magic, the entire plotline of the first Merlin book took shape in my head one day while I was walking in the woods with Freya, my dog. Ideas don’t usually come to me full-blown; I normally have a thought, which I kick around, play with and develop over some weeks or months till I have a workable story and only then do I start researching and writing. Not this time; Merlin, Jason, Beverley and Morgana were all there in a matter of minutes and I knew each of their places in the story. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, Merlin’s magic always happens in a flash.
I'd be interested in knowing more what you think....
I've found that there is risk in venturing outside the box in creating a unique type of supernatural creature, but I feel writers should take risks. I would like to see more risks in creating unique characters, or at least expanding on some of the familiar themes. I do agree, though, that readers often become attached to familiar content and are hesitant to venture too far off the conventional path.
@Dniel Diehl--Quote "as if by magic, the entire plotline of the first Merlin book took shape in my head one day while I was walking in the woods with Freya, my dog."
That is amazing. The same thing happened to me! I was walking through the woods in the early evening, just as the Moon was rising, and the whole story of a mountain healer, a witch, if you will, came to me, from beginning to end, before I reached my back screen door. No matter where I paused in writing the book, under whatever circumstance, I was able to pick up exactly where I left off. This has never happened before or since. It makes me wonder if some things aren't just floating around in the ether...stories waiting to be told.
I think it depends on what type of vampire and werewolf novels you are talking about..I actually would like to see more bloodthirsty vampires and werewolves instead of these little cutsy romances with them. :)
I have to agree. It seems that authors and moviemakers don't have much of an imagination when it comes to coming up with new mythical creatures, especially since the success of Twilight. How many diferent ways can you tell the same old stories? I'd love to see something new and exciting, something unexpected.
I guess where I disagree (with the original question) is with the idea that making up new creatures is the one sure way to create a new concept. Creatures are a big visual element, but just because a story has vampires in it doesn't mean you've surely read it before. I've got an urban fantasy series with a few vampires (not a hugely important plot point, more a part of the setting, IMO), but that's not what the story is *about*. I've aimed for uniqueness with my main character, who is the only child in a large family (oldest of 7) who has no magic of her own. The story is mainly about her, how she deals with this, and as the series goes on, what she does to overcome it. Yes, there's romance. Yes, there's vampires. There are sorcerers, a magical community, spells, potions, and a lot of things you've seen before in other stories repackaged to build this world. But mostly, there's Cassie.
I suppose my story is an offshoot of the fact that I've long believed *characters* are what define a book, and make it unique (or not). Ultimately, new creatures remind me of old ones in either subtle or overt ways, and there are only so many types of plots -- action, suspense, mystery, romance -- they've all been done. IMO, putting different creatures in the average urban fantasy won't make a measurable change. You'll still have the same archetype of a hero or heroine out there kicking monster butt.
But you tell that story from the point of view of a character who overcomes his/her archetype and then you hve something truly magical.
Just my opinion. And I wouldn't say no to new creature....I'm just not convinced they're the key to uniqueness.
I absolutely agree. I now pass up vampire or shape-shifter stories because they are overdone. I think they have peaked and I can't wait for the next thing to come down the pike. Anyone have any ideas? I love subtle paranormal/fantasy so I'm looking for something like that. Something where you personally know what the 'thing' is but the world as a whole might not. And, while I'm at it, I'm also a bit tired of worlds that are peopled with whatever paranormal being the author is writing about and the world is so fully realized that there's not room for much else in the book. Lots of world-building, not much story. But then, I like stories!
I agree there should be more books written about other intriguing fictional characters. Have you ever heard of the Nephilim? Nephilim are half man and half fallen angel. These supernatural beings of strength are from biblical times which had extraordinary power, and very long lifespans.
I am a little biased to the Nephilim because I recently wrote a book titled, Nephilim the Remnants, a fictional story set in a medieval time period. If you are searching for a more intriguing characters than vampires, come check us out: www.NephilimtheRemnants.com
Thank you for posting this and letting me join in on the conversation.