Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Writing Alchemy - Resurrection of a Manuscript

Now I know what Victor Frankenstein felt like when he created his monster. Well... sort of.

My manuscript created in 1999-2002 "Vampire Legacy", was in a large box within an even larger bin, filled with my writings. I recall that it went well beyond manageable length.
Well over 800 pages.

Yeah. I had way too many threads, too many characters, and the plot went all over the place. And I had the gall to try and interest an agent with it. When she responded to me, asking me to cut it down (in half), I was excited and went to work on it, and in a month I sent it back. She said I still didn't do it right. In the end, she rejected it, saying "Didn't you learn anything from the books I recommended?" (In other words, REJECTED)

Oh, well. Back to the drawing board...

It was shelved. For a long time, obviously.

In the meantime, I guess I learned how to plot and a few other things with my writing. You see, you have to learn how to write before you can get this shit straight. Plotting is something you need to understand before you can proceed.

"No one can teach you how to write." 
Someone somewhere said that. I think a couple of teachers. Maybe Gandhi, too.

Somewhere along the line I have figured it out, apparently, or I wouldn't have gotten a publisher (as small as he was), and my many nice reviews for Vampire Ascending, and Vampire's Trill.

So, last weekend I took out all of this manuscript, which was in more drafts than I can count. I spread it all out over a couch, a couple of tables and a few boxes, the floor, and sorted through it all trying to discover the workable parts and the not-so workable parts. Those I put off to the side. They are like mini stories, basically. I never throw out anything, if I can help it.

When I was finished, my lower back ached for days, but I had found the latest draft (because of the type-font/printing). But I kept the draft(s) before that on hand for anything I might have missed.

So, I began the typing up of the mss. in my computer. I began Chapter One using the scenes in Chapter Three. Because the original beginning was too boring. Really. It was terrible. Nothing happened, too much back-story, too much information dump--all of the no-no's I'd learned since then not to do. (God, I hope so!)

I was going along, replacing one scene for another, and then I got to my character Izora Crunch. She's a librarian. I kept vacillating as to whether or not I needed her. In my original she comes in handy, but fills two rolls, and when I came to this one spot where my second main character (Phil Green), goes to her about something, I said, "Hold on. She doesn't need to be the person in this scene." But she needed to come in to help my detectives earlier than I had her (which was way-way at the end), and I needed them to learn something very important, yet so mind-blowing that neither detective really wants to believe it--because it spells V-A-M-P-I-R-E. But Jan Vladislav, who is part Gypsy and Romanian, knows about such things, and there are things about his birth even he doesn't know about (yet).

So, when I say this is like being the creator, but taking something that already exists and making it into something new, and breathing life into it--I'm not pulling your leg. This is work. But a work of love. I absolutely love this story. If I didn't, I would have tossed it a long time ago. I merely need to cut out things that I don't need, and stitch in sections elsewhere (like that monster Frankenstein made--only this will be better, and prettier).

At this juncture, I can see what is wrong with this mss.--big and little things--and can fix. I am moving things around. I'm taking out certain character's POV because it gives away too much. I want the reader to discover the vampires along with my hero, Detective Vladislav--who, by the way has amber eyes, which he disguises with brown or blue contact lenses (I haven't decided which color, but since he's dark, maybe I should have him use brown--but his daughter's eyes are like her mothers, which are blue. And I love the contrast. But I digress). He also has a cool tattoo. And I've seen this tattoo on someone who is Romanian, and I am going to get a picture of his arm if it's the last thing I do! It's a crucifix, and there's a story behind it, and it relates to Dracula--I do not lie!

And as I went through this, and put Izora into this chapter with the detectives, I wondered where her description was. Oh... there it is, with Phil, my other vampire slayer.

This book's title was "Vampire Legacy", but since I've got a series with the word 'vampire' in the titles, I knew I needed to change this. This is where I asked myself: "What is the book was about?" Well, it's about a couple of vampire hunters--one by nature (he was born one), one by necessity.

Romanian belief is the background for the whole book. A dhampire  is someone who is born from a vampire-human mating. They have certain physical atributes that makes him stronger, more agile and more able to detect and fight a vampire. So, with this in mind, the new title is now Dhampire Legacy. It might be confusing to some people who have never seen this word, but believe me, once they get into the story, it will be explained.

So, I'm up to chapter seven or eight. I've found Mrs. Crunch's description and I'll be plopping that into the areas I need to, and re-writing this section of Phil Green's to include a priest, instead because he returns a large gold crucifix and tells his story of why he has it in the first place, and it belonged to a deacon whose neck was twisted horribly 20 years ago--and Phil actually saw the murder, but was too young and frightened to tell anyone about it.

Hmmm, since I'm not Catholic, anyone out there able to help me with a scene? Specifically with the confession scene? Let me know in the comments.

Who among you are doing this, or have gone back into an old manuscript and began to work on it?


  1. Hey, Lorelei:

    Eve Gaal may be able to help you with that. She's Catholic. Also, do I get to beta read this one...huh? Please.

    Hugs and chocolate,

    1. Yes, my dear. And believe me it won't be anywhere near 800 pages. I'm going to aim it for my usual 325 to no more than 400 page. I hope for a 2014 publishing schedule too.

  2. Eight hundred pages would have been a short story to Tom Clancy....

    I'm not Catholic, so I can't be of help. I'm sure I'd have a poor reaction to exposure to holy water.

    1. Ha-ha, William!
      Come to think of it, I might have a problem with holy water, too, and have an aversion to the crucifix as well. Go figure.

  3. I'm not Catholic, either, but I did attend St. Louis University, which is Jesuit. I took theology classes. What, exactly, do you need to know?


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