Well, November’s in the books and another noveling adventure is over. On the strength of a 7000-word Saturday and an 8000-word Sunday, I flashed across the finish line in a blaze of mediocrity, with 22 hours to spare.
The first draft of almost every novel ever written is terrible, which is one of the reasons I like NaNoWriMo. I can spend a month and spew out a draft that is 81% crap, or I can spend months of hard work and craft a first draft that is 73% crap. (Of course that assumes that at the end of the month I have a complete draft, which I haven’t managed to pull off lately.)
So after that exercise in long-winded blathery, I’d like to give you a long-winded summary of the results. You don’t have to thank me, it’s what I do.
Before I get to that, though, I would like to share a lesson I learned this year. It’s not the first time I’ve learned it, but it really hit home this time around. There I was, off on a tangent with a secondary character who didn’t like his job and wasn’t doing it well. Meanwhile I was recognizing that there was no way I was going to finish the story by the end of the month. I stopped right in the middle of the scene and told myself out loud, “Get to the action!” I had a lot of events mapped out in my mind, conflict and death and love and all-out vampire smackdown. Why was I writing about Troy being a whiny little jerk?
Get to the action. I really need to do that more, in everything I write. I think I will write a little program that will flash “GET TO THE ACTION” on my screen every hour whenever Jer’s Novel Writer is the front application.
I got to the action. Here then are some notes about the fruits of my labor.
**** Minor spoilers ahead! That probably doesn’t matter, unless you want to read a sloppy partial realization of the following. Much of the vampire world backstory is never explicitly stated. ****
The Vampire World
I borrowed from extant vampire literature, of course, and I took many of the ideas you guys supplied and ran with them. Should this book ever see the light of day, some of you will be able to point to bits and say, “that was my idea!”
Modern vampire culture is tightly regulated. Vampires must get a permit to hunt, and creation of new vampires is carefully regulated. There is a council of nine vampires that rules on the authority of the charter, a document that spells out the political structure of vampire society. Theoretically, the members of the council are also bound by the laws of the charter.
Since the council members are immortal, there’s not much room for advancement for younger, ambitious members of society. The council is isolated from humanity (many of them feel walking in a city the way we would in a stockyard), and some members are quick to abuse their power. This has led to a volatile situation.
There is a handful of old, powerful vampires who existed before the charter, who enjoy a degree of autonomy within their own territories. These vampires can hunt and convert new vampires without the blessing of the council, but they know that they cannot push things too far. Some members of the council wish to end their special status.
Vampires are truly immortal. Sunlight causes them enormous pain and harm, but given enough time even a vampire with a full ‘sunburn’ will recover completely.
Hunting permits specify a grade of human, from grade zero – drug addicts and bums, the equivalent of a human eating out of a dumpster – to grade five. Grade five humans are rare and tend to be missed when they are killed, so most vampires go their entire lives without tasting a grade-five human. Such delicacies are one of the perks of wealth and power in vampire society.
Throughout most of history, vampires were very selective concerning which humans they would bring into their ranks. This had benefits for both races, but vampires have always been more technologically advanced than humanity. There was a period, however, when many of the more powerful vampires assembled harems. Over the period of two centuries the population of vampires spiked, while the new vampires were selected for physical beauty and special skills (ahem) rather than intelligence of personality traits. Eventually the council cracked down on this practice (once they all had their own harems), and since that time it has been almost impossible for the council to agree on a new conversion.
As in the Ann Rice (with Buffy Extensions) World, there is a special bond between a vampire and their ‘parent’, the vampire that created them. However far apart they are physically, they can always feel the presence of the other. Also from the AR(wBE)W and earlier stories, vampires have the ability to mentally compel others, including other vampires. Most of the harem vampires are under compulsion of their masters.
That’s the world in a nutshell; of course there are far more details in my head that may or may not make it onto the page. Still, it’s a good setting for lots of conflict, especially with the sudden wild card that our friend Deek stumbles across…
Deek is a classic slacker, a nobody, a burden to society. He is also a grade-one meal, but he gets lucky and finds himself with a dismembered vampire under his bed. He knows he has to get rid of it somehow, but whatever he does the vampire will eventually reassemble and come for him. In desperation he eats a small portion of the vampire. It almost kills him, but as a result he absorbs a tiny portion of the vampire’s power. Deek has stumbled on a way to truly kill vampires. He also becomes addicted to vampire flesh. When he finishes the one, he must go find another.
What little Deek knows of the opposite sex he learned in Maxim magazine, and he’s frustrated that his new powers haven’t helped him get laid.
One side effect of his new-found mojo: The aura he radiates makes him appear to vampires as the most delicious-looking human they’ve ever met. He’s like super-concentrated life.
Agatha is one of the youngest vampires. As a human she was a genius without peer, and the vampires converted her. She’s a little odd, however, and no vampire can understand why. The identity of her parent is a secret closely guarded by the council; she has never met her parent and doesn’t feel the same connection that other vampires do. In fact, she is an orphan, a concept completely foreign to vampire thought. She never even considers the possibility, and no one else does either, except…
Igon is the senior member of the council, a wily and corrupt vampire whose power has been growing steadily over time. Igon also knows how to bring true death to a vampire, and has more than once resorted to cannibalism. He is a champion of Agatha, and he killed her ‘parent’ moments after she was converted so he would not be a rival for her attention.
Lumír would be Julius Caesar if this was ancient Rome. He is an ambitious young vampire with a mean streak, and he thinks it’s time for the council to be swept aside. Modern technology should allow vampires to control humanity like never before, turning the world into a giant food factory filled with ignorant, sated, masses following the vampires’ lead blindly. At the 48,000 word mark Lumír crosses his Rubicon, and he engineers a crisis in the council that leads to violence, while Lumír waits in the wings with his outsider friends. When I was telling myself ‘get to the action!’ I was telling myself that Lumír was ready to stir the pot.
Yvette was originally converted to be part of a harem, but her intelligence and personality were strong enough for her to carve her own life. She loves to play with her food. Filled with a lust for life, she is one of Agatha’s only friends. Yvette’s parent was Agatha’s lover for a while, but that didn’t end well at all. Yvette has angered a council member and as a result has not been granted a hunting license in a long time. She is starving.
Jody is a waitress at a local pizza joint, who is increasingly impressed by Deek’s maturation as he is forced to get a job, move out from his mom’s basement, and get his act together. He has risen in her estimation to the “good enough for my friend” status. Deek has a serious crush on her, and has come up with an idea for separating her from her boyfriend. His plan may have complications. I’m just saying is all.
So there you have it! A partially-realized partial idea for a novel. Not all the characters make it to the end, and others come in now and then to mix things up.
When you’re the leader of the vampire council and you’re on the wrong continent when conflict breaks out, time zones can be a real bitch.