Tag Archive: Bram Stoker



For just about all writers, the choice of voice or perspective to use is always a challenge.  Although many write in the third person voice, there are two options.  Do you do ‘limited’ where we only know what’s going through one characters mind, or do you use the ‘omniscient’ version where the readers get to know what’s going through everyone’s mind at the same time, even if the characters are not sharing all their thoughts with each other.

I did the ‘limited’ third person point of view in my first two novels.  However I kept changing who’s head we were inside with each chapter, giving a nice build up and differing points of view.  So in the new novel I’m working on  “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” I wanted to try 1st person perspective, but still do multiple points of view.  So, with my wife’s advice, I chose the same method Bram Stoker used to write “Dracula”.  He did 1st person from many different points of view by using letters, journal entries, diaries, etc. and it worked.

In my case, I went for blog and e-journal entries to tell my story, as well as some newspaper clippings to help supply background information for the reader.  Now, I know I’ve said all this before, but I wanted to repeat it for the benefit of anyone who had missed those earlier entries.  What I did not count on was dealing with Present Tense vs. Past Tense in the First Person.

I realized I might have a problem after I started the 2nd draft of the novel and started noticing that some entries were in the past tense, while others were in the present.  Sometimes I kept going back and forth within the same chapter.  So then I had to decide between which one to use.  After careful consideration, I decided past tense made the most sense, since when one is doing a blog entry about an event they are reflecting back on what happened.  It is not happening there and then as they write.

This of course gave me a much larger task of rewriting the 2nd draft.

However, I have prevailed and am just about done with the 2nd draft.  But now I am growing concerned about another issue.  “Telling” vs. “Showing”.  Am I just having my characters ‘tell’ a story or am I managing to bring my readers into my characters memories so they can ‘see’ it as it happened?   I’ll be going over the entire novel again and after some corrections, send it out to some beta-readers to get their opinions on the piece.

I never imagined how intricate this particular novel was going to become.  It’s been a lot of work, but I’m rather enjoying the challenge.  If I do pull it off correctly, I think my readers will be very pleased and clamoring for more of Nathaniel and company.  But only time will tell.

Anyway, that’s all I have for now.  If anyone has had more experience with these issues I’d love to hear about them.  Please leave comments down below so not only me, but others can learn from your experiences.

Until next time, keep writing.

A Quick Update…


NOTE: I already shared this post on “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition”, but it seemed appropriate to share here as well, since I talk about what’s been going on with me for the past 2 weeks.  There will be new posts about writing shortly.  Consider this one, a quick update about me… 

Hello everyone, sorry for the slow updates recently.  I had planned on another post today, but life has a way of kind of being really getting in the way sometimes.  Especially when you’re going back to college.  I started attending my first university this week.  Prior to that the past few weeks have been chaotic with my wife getting a new job.

She got her Bachelors Degree last spring at the same university where I’m going now.  She studied to become a high school math teacher.  This summer had been a rough one for us for several other reasons as well, including her taking special summer courses for her credential to be come a teacher.  I had to drive her around a number of places including a couple of schools where she was interning.  A lot of that driving meant time away from the keyboard both for this blog and the novel itself.    There were a lot of things to be done around the house that only I was available to do (cleaning, laundry, errands, etc.)

I also had to go through some skin cancer surgery, which didn’t always leave me in the best of shape to be working on things.

However…

These last two weeks, I was spending a lot of time on the novel itself thanks to my wife’s new job.  She had to go through the interview process, be offered the job, accept it, and went through a couple of weeks of training at the new school so she could settle in.  Now the location of her job was in another town about 1/2 an hour away from where we currently live, which is actually quite a nice drive.

But even better, the town where she’s working has the most beautiful library, where I parked myself for hours working on the book.  I’m happy to announce that the 1st draft is almost finished.  I’m within pages of finishing it off.  Once that’s done, I’ll be doing a second draft to iron out certain issues such as clarity of thought, spelling, making sure the story flows, and finally getting to work on the actual cover.

After the 2nd draft is completed it will be going to my proofreader/editor.  Then I will do the 3rd draft at which point it will be unleashed on some willing Beta-Readers.  Once I hear back from them, a final draft will be completed and the book will be released.

How long will all that take?  I don’t have a clear idea yet, but the release will happen between late October and early December.  That much I can tell you.  It will all depend on how long it takes for others to get back to me (editing, beta-reading, etc.)  Once the 1st draft is completed the second one will come fairly quickly.

So hang in there, the actual novel is coming.  I will be posting more blog entries by the various characters you’ll be meeting in the book very soon.  Some will be funny, others interesting, a few tearful, but I’ll try not to leave you bored.

A new post will be here in a week.  From what the characters are telling me, we’ll be hearing either from Nathaniel, Lisa, or Marisa.  Or someone completely new.  Some characters can get kind of pushy.

For now I bid you a pleasant week.  Come freely, visit frequently, but always leave a bit of the happiness you bring to this blog.  (paraphrased from Bram Stoker’s Dracula).  This is my copy.  As you can see, I’ve read it a ‘few’ times, give or take…


I know, I know, I haven’t even put out “The Ship” yet, and I’m already working on another book?  Well, I’m waiting for feedback from some of my beta-readers who are going over “The Ship” so there’s not much I can do on that front at the moment.  And it felt so darn weird, sitting at my computer and not working on something, other than doing Facebook and games.

 

Besides, I’ve been getting a lot more views on “The Vampyre Blogs–Private Edition” blog sites that have been looking very encouraging.  I really hope my creating those sites will lead to me having a really good sized audience clamoring for the book when it finally comes out in December.  In this day and age of Indie Authors and self-publishing, one has to try and be inventive to build an audience for your work.  And I keep hearing over and over again about how important it is to get the word out about your works (both finished and in progress).

 

But what I really want to talk about today is my personal experiences in writing a book that is comprised of blog entries by various characters.  It’s been hard to describe at times, when people ask me about it.  But today I finally came up with a good way to explain it.  Basically, each ‘blog entry’ is pretty much a short story in and of itself.  I’m just putting together a bunch of short stories in such a way that they tell a much larger tale.  And I’m finding it fascinating.

 

This is the first book where I’ve tried using the first-person point of view.  I’ve always been a little leery of doing this because I keep in mind that whichever character is telling the story, we only get to see what goes on inside their head.  They don’t know exactly what’s happening inside the minds of the other characters.  But, by following Bram Stoker’s example of using journal and letters, I am having a blast getting all the different characters thoughts and opinions about what is going on in and around their lives.

 

I’m actually finding this format rather easy to work with and very exciting.  I just hope the audience finds it as enjoyable and interesting.  I just finished the first entry in the novel and it came to just over 1000 words.  How long will the book be in the end?  I’m not sure, but I’m hoping to keep it under 80,000 for a change.  It will be easier to manage the edits and rewrites, so I should be able to keep to my scheduled release of December later this year.

 

I’ll follow up again soon and let you all know what other discoveries I’m making as I continue the tale.

 

Until next time, take care and keep writing!


Since I started work on my first vampire story, I decided to see what other stories and variations have been done on the vampire myth already.  To this end I pulled out an anthology book of vampire stories that’s been in my possession for about 20 years now.

Everyone is pretty familiar with the works of Anne Rice, Stephanie Meyer, and of course Bram Stoker.  But what about other authors who’ve tapped into this vein (I know this pun sucks… but so do vampires ba-da-bum).  This collection can be a huge help to any author with plans on attacking this famous mythos by giving them a chance to see what others have done before them.  I know I found it helpful and enlightening.

THE PENGUIN BOOK OF VAMPIRE STORIES is one of the best anthologies I’ve ever found.  Part of the reason is that it covers authors who’ve touched on this subject as far back as 1816 and goes up to 1984.  There are a number of familiar names in this book like Clark Ashton Smith, Sheridan Le Fanu, Tanith Lee, and August Derleth to name just a few.  But what fascinates me the most is seeing how the vampire legend is explored.  We meet the legendary “Varney The Vampire”, the seductive and dangerous “Carmilla”, as well as  Stoker’s missing chapter from Dracula which was released as a short story several years after the novel itself was published.  I understand in some later printings, it was put back into the novel where it belonged.  Alas my copy of Dracula is one of the ones without it, so finding this missing chapter in this collection was a treat for me.

The first 2 installments in this collection: “Fragment of a Novel”  (1816) and “The Vampyre” (1819) were of particular interest to me since their creation were the direct result of a bet made between the poet Percy Shelley, his wife Mary, Lord Byron and John Polidori.  The four were spending a summer together and during a particularly boring rainy night they all agreed to a little contest.  Each was to create a full length horror story within a certain amount of time.  These 2 stories were the entries by Byron and Polidori respectively.  Neither is fully finished.  In fact Mary Shelley was the only one to complete her story the legendary “Frankenstein”.

Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” is another brilliant piece in this collection.  Published in 1872, it predates Stoker’s more famous “Dracula” by a few decades.  Considered a ‘lesbian’ vampire story since both the victims and the antagonist are women.  But it’s here where we really find one of the first demonstrations of  the sensuous behavior that has been built upon by so many modern writers of vampire fiction.  Yet, it is not love or real affection.  I’ll quote a passage from the story so you can see what I mean.

“…the vampire is prone to be fascinated with an engrossing vehemence, resembling passion

of love, by particular persons.  In pursuit of these it will exercise inexhaustible patience and

stratagem, for access to a particular object may be obstructed in a hundred ways.  It will

never desist until it has satiated its passion, and drained the very life of its coveted victim.

But it will, in these cases, husband and protract its murderous enjoyment with the refinement

of an epicure, and heighten it by the gradual approaches of an artful courtship.  In these cases

it seems to yearn for something like sympathy and consent.  In ordinary ones it goes direct to

its object, overpowers with violence, and strangles and exhausts often at a single feast…”

So here we see that alluring nature that is so eroticized these days.  But clearly in this passage we see that clearly there is no real affection for the victim at all.  It’s fascinating to see how one idea is singled out and made romantic, while the consequences are ignored these days.  However, I cannot criticize modern writers for this.  Every author wants to put a different spin on an old legend and this can be seen throughout this collection.

We have “Luella Miller” by Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman in 1902.  No blood letting here, but the title character definitely has a kind of vampiric nature, willing or otherwise.  She is almost a sympathetic character in some ways.

Later we find C. L. Moore’s “Shambleau” in 1933, where the author takes us on a science fiction journey to another planet where we meet a vampire-like being, who also shares some resemblance to the legendary Medusa of ancient Greece.

There’s also the legendary Fritz Lieber’s offering “The Girl With The Hungry Eyes” from 1949.  Or August Derleth’s 1939 “Drifting Snow” where we meet a pair of Snow Vampires.

For almost a century authors have been putting their own spin on this famous myth and many will continue for years to come, myself included.

I give this collection a full 5 STAR rating and highly recommend it to any fan of this genre.


Okay, in my last entry I disclosed I was working on a vampire novel.  Now this is a genre that has been done and redone so many times it’s unbelievable.  And almost every time there are new twists and turns added to it that they barely seem to resemble the traditional vampires that Bela Legosi and Christopher Lee made legendary in Hollywood.  Today we have vampires that just totally ooze sex appeal, can sparkle in daylight instead of turning to dust, can have sex and produce offspring, are either monsters or saints, etc.  And they are still as popular as ever in spite of all the changes to the original legend.

Now I’m not just talking about Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”.  That was not the first vampire story.  There were many others. If you ever get the opportunity check out “The Penguin Book Of Vampire Stories” and you’ll see ones that predate Mr. Stoker’s work by quite a few years.  But in that collection you’ll also meet other kinds of vampires: snow vampires, ones who hide inside portratis, aliens on different planets, etc.  In this collection there are creatures of all sorts and shapes that are still called vampires.

This brings me to today’s subject.  How can you breathe new life into a genre that has been written about so many times over?  Well that’s up to the writer.  As in the case of Anne Rice, Stephenie Meyer and others, they tweek the original vampire concept to suit their story ideas.  Sometimes they provide and explanation about why their creations don’t adhere to all the old legends, sometimes not.

So, you may be thinking, “Okay Allan, how are you going to ‘tweek’ the vampire concept and make it fresh and different?  What changes are you going to make to the traditional weaknesses and rules?”

Here’s my answer.  All the traditional rules of garlic, being welcomed into a place, avoid sunlight, shape-shift, control minions, etc. will be in effect.  So where am I making the change?  Simple, my vampire is NOT undead.

At this point I’m sure a number of you are thinking if he’s not undead then he can’t be supernatural.  So how can all those limitations and vulnerabilities still apply to him?  That’s where the creative writing process comes in.  All of these things will be addressed in the story.  And it won’t just be about a biography about my vampire.  There will be dangers.  The internet allows people access to a lot of information.  And this story will be taking place in modern day.  So there will be suspicious townspeople, cops on the hunt, the threat of discovery, a ghost, and villains (human and otherwise) to be battled.

So there you have it.  A new take on a much used subject.  But instead of changing all the rules, I’m working with them and making new reasons for why they apply.  And in doing so, I’m hoping that a number of you are already really intrigued and are looking forward to checking the story out when it’s ready.  If this is the case, then I’ve succeeded in breathing new life and interest into a genre that has been worked and reworked many times over.  And it can be done with so many other genres such as fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, you name it.

So what genre or legendary creature/being have you thought about working on?  Is there one close to your heart that’s been done a lot already?  If so, how can you make it new and interesting?  Are there rules for how it behaves or can be dealt with and what are the explanations behind it?  Is there a new way to approach these things?  Give us a new spin on it that still makes sense and intrigues us.

I’d love to hear from you and so would other people who read this blog.  Leave comments below and tell us a little about what you are working on or have in mind.  Be careful not to give your whole idea away.  Just leave tantalizing hints that will get us revved up to check your work out as soon as it’s ready.

Until next time,  keep writing.


Well, a new month has begun and here I am already doing another entry about writing.  This is what happens when the muse takes hold and has something to say.  I hope you all enjoy today’s installment.

Yesterday, against my better judgement, I started writing a second book.  Mind you  I’m still working on “The Ship” which is the sequel to my first novel “The Bridge”.  But I was having troubles with “The Ship”.  I was making progress, but it was so slow I was going crazy at times.  I would write over a 1000 words in one day and then dump about half of them because they weren’t moving the plot along or really helping develop the characters as much.  I kept what did seem to be working and built on that the next day.  Sometimes this is one way of dealing with Writer’s Block for me.

Then yesterday, something else happened.  An idea for a different book that is part of my Para-Earth series started gelling like no one’s business.  It had sat on the back-burner for so long now it was boiling over.  Scenes and characters started coming to life to such an extent I had only one of three options:

A) Start writing the book

B) Leave it alone and hope I don’t forget all this great stuff that was coming up

C) Start taking notes and outlining the damn thing for later.

I tried opting for C but next thing I knew I had written the opening scene of the book and was plunging forward with the project.  Tentatively I’m calling it “The Vampire Blogs”.  And as a homage to Bram Stoker who gave us “Dracula” I’m doing it as a series of journal and blog entries.  I’m choosing this route because I knew I wanted to do the entire book in the 1st person perspective.  Now most 1st person narratives stick with just one character throughout the entire story. This is a great device for a mystery or thriller because the audience can only know as much as the main character.  So when he/she gets surprised by something they didn’t know, so are we.

However, I knew from the start I’d need to be showing the audience what was going on in several different people’s heads while using the 1st person voice.  So how was I going to pull that off without confusing the hell out of my readers?  I turned to my “Spare Brain”, my wife Helen who is more well read than me, and asked for advice.  She told me that from what she could recall it had been done before but that it could be tricky.  Then she struck on the idea of paying homage to Mr. Stoker and instead of just letters and journals, use blogs and journals on the internet since I was using a modern day setting.  This was a masterstroke on her part.  I now had a clear path of how to switch heads and keep the “I” voice without confusing the audience.  The other thing I loved was the fact that I could build more suspense by letting the audience know things that only some of the characters were aware of.  Nothing gets an audience going like seeing some of what’s coming and realizing the characters don’t have a clue about it yet.  Plus you can still surprise your audience at times because they don’t necessarily know everything about the characters or the situation.  They know only what your characters have shared with them so far.

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