Monday, March 5, 2012

Creating a Mythology for your world

Hi all :) A little over a week I know but ideas take time to form in my head. So this week I'd like to talk about vampire myths, powers and the fun/struggle of creating creatures for story but first these messages.

Shameless plug: My book The Newfoundland Vampire will be on in April 2012 (Pat is hard at working editing now :) and Tasha’s books (I've read book and highly recommend them) are out now.

I think one of the things authors who write in the fantasy/paranormal/science-fiction/horror/YA genre (among others) enjoy the most is creating powers for their creatures/heroes. Most geeky people imagine what it would be like to have super-powers and write you write characters you get a chance to live out that thrill vicariously :)

For me I wanted to develop the powers of my characters (who are vampires of course :) with detail, consistency and still have some fun along the way. For me the challenge was that vampires have such a long history in book/films/history (myths rather..or are they? ;) that it was tricky at time to not muddle the powers I thought of with those already done.

For example as my esteemed editor Pat and Penumbra Publishing pointed out, if vampires are unholy why would they only be affected by Catholic symbols such as crosses and holy water? If vampires existed thousands of years ago (as mine do) they would have to be affected by other holy symbols that the Romans would have used. As usual she was right and I decided that my vampires (since they don't "die" to be made a vampire) were not strictly unholy at all and therefore symbols and devices of faith did nothing to them.

Then you get into other details like how does sunlight affect them, how exactly does their telepathy work, can they sense others of their kind and so on. The fun part was taking a very well know creature like a vampire and adding some twists to it (some of which I've already discussed in a previous post). One of my ideas was to have vampires be able to control any animal (not just rats or wolves as in Bram Stoker's Dracula) to a much stronger degree than they could a human.

The other challenge was to establish a set of guidelines that the reader can learn and then stick with them throughout the novel. That doesn't mean there can't be some freak/super-vampire that defies a few of the rules but he/she/it certainly still needs to abide by most of them.

Finally it's funny how little details matter so much, initially I wrote that my vampires front teeth became fangs. This would have made them very comical bunny-rabbit type monsters =) What I meant of course was the traditional cuspid or canine teeth.

What challenges/fun aspects do other people face when they create a world? I'll admit I took it a little easy with just one supernatural creature. How do authors handle create many different types of powers/creatures? I'll leave you with these questions, I've got some packing to do. My next post will be from sunny Florida. Now that I've made some of jealous ;) until next time dear readers I am..


Penumbra Publishing said...

All good points, Charles. And one thing that most authors don't think about is maintaining a consistency throughout the series, but leaving enough 'wiggle room' to build on and add to paranormal character lore to keep the series fresh and interesting to the reader. Worst thing in the world is to realize you've written yourself into a corner and can't do something in book 2 because book 1 has already stated it's a no-no. So series development adds a whole other dimension to the process of writing paranormal.

Pat, Penumbra Publishing

Natasha Larry said...

It always helps to have people tell you about any holes you might run into... especially if you're building a large world. Doubly so if your creatures all operate by different rules, but I always have fun with it. Pat is great for stuff like that, and my fiance comes in handy.

I tend to build around broad concepts because it gives you more room to play around with, if that makes sense.

Good post

Charles O'Keefe said...

Thanks Pat and Tasha :) I try my best to come up with posts that are interesting and that people will like, sometimes I suceed more than others ;) I agree you want to leave room for new powers/development with your world. Pat has already been a great help with keeping my vampires powers consitent and helping them make sense. I may have some other creatures eventually, we'll see :-)