So, I seem to have the problem where I worry way too much whether people will like my stories, even before it’s ready to be published or sold. I guess it’s understandable, but still.
One major issue I have is where I worry I’m writing something just because it seems to be popular at the moment. Like following trends. Except, I know that I’m not following the trend — I’m writing the thing because I like it. But even when I know that, it still feels like I’m being cheap. Like I’m a trend-chaser.
For this article, I’ll be using vampires as an example, due to the number of vampire books coming out with which I’m not all that impressed. But even so, it can be applied to pretty much any literary trend.
Maybe the vampire tidal-wave is slowing down now that Twilight’s mostly dead (I hope), but I haven’t been watching the genre all that closely. Either way, the ‘new vampire’ seems to just be an angsty teenager with fangs. And, ok, angst is good. It provides character and plot development. But in a lot of these stories (*cough* Twilight *cough*), being a vampire has practically no downside. So… why are these people angsting and complaining? If I could read minds/run supersonic/rip a house off its foundation, for the meager price of draining a deer a week, I’d be happy.
The key is that it has to be handled right. And I’m not egotistical enough to think I’ve got it all right, but I know what annoys me, and I hope to fix it in my own stories.
I remember panicking so bad over one of my currently-in-progress stories, worried that it was ‘just another vampire story.’ After Twilight and the long list of copycat teenage angst vampire romances that tried to cash in on its success, I worry that I just plain old can’t write about vampires without it being labeled ‘another vampire novel.’ Except, the vampires are a whole new breed that I’ve made up. And I’m trying to make them as scary as possible while still being good guys (and actually struggling over it). I’m trying to return to my bloodsucking roots while still moving forward with a new breed of night-monsters, like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (at least, the movie).
I think the most important thing about writing a story dealing with popular themes (any story, really, but especially in this case), is to write it true to yourself, true to what you enjoy, what you want. Don’t force yourself to write something just because you think it would be successful, because it probably won’t be. Just like I don’t think it’s a good idea to chase after a job that you hate, even if it pays well. It’ll be hollow, meaningless to you. You can do better than that.
I guess that’s the important thing. I like vampire stories (provided they’re written right), and I also like mysteries and steampunk and female protagonists. So you know what? I’m gonna write them. And it will be unique, just because I’m the one writing it.
And, really, genres don’t die out. We’re still reading romance a couple centuries after Pride and Prejudice came out, so that hasn’t gone down the drain. Maybe they’re faster-paced and a bit lustier now, but it’s still going strong. In fact, I think it’s one of the most popular, most successful genres out there. But even so, I’m not gonna write romance. Or, I should say: I’m not gonna write books with romance as the primary genre. That’s too boring to me. I’m an action girl. I want a slice of romance on the side of my violence and terror entrée. That’s me.
So long as it’s written well, that is.
If genres don’t die out, why should tropes and story elements die out? Back to the subject of vampires: when Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, he had one type of vampire in mind. Handsome and cultured. Then there was Nosferatu with the corpse-vampire. Then Anne Rice wrote about her vampires that are both unique and loyal to the original myths. Then Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the nineties where the vampires have demon-souls and their faces turn into what look like bad halloween masks when they get ready to bite you. Then disco-ball vampires with Twilight (still not over that).
Now it’s my turn. And maybe readers will roll their eyes at ‘another vampire novel? Eww!‘ but I don’t really care. My story is my own, and it has vampires (of a sort), so I’m going to write it. And if even only a handful of people read them, and like the vampires, and the rest of the series, and my plots, and my characters, and my world, then I will be happy. Because my story is important to me, fangs and all.