Heh. Bet you thought this post was going to be about St. Valentine’s Day.
Oh, I have nothing against an excuse to buy chocolate. I am so there if it involves anything from Salzburg wrapped in blue foil with Mozart’s profile on it.
I was thinking more along the lines of holidays and commercial interests. Ever notice how many more jewelry commercials appear around Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day? The “big” thing these days? Chocolate diamonds. Not the kind you can eat, but brown diamonds. Yes, brown. “Chocolate” sounds so much better than “brown” when you’re marketing something.”Brown” is, like, blah. “Chestnut” is fun. “Mahogany” is fun. Even “brunette” is interesting. But brown? That’s like saying poop-colored.
I suspect the truth is someone had a whole lot of brown diamonds that no one wanted because, well, brown. Who wants a brown diamond? White–hell yeah. Pink–okay, I loved those movies (if you need a hint, look up Peter Sellers on IMDb). Blue–there’s a famous huge pendant with a blue diamond. Green–I suppose there are green ones, but I’ve never seen any. Yellow–ugh, like crystalized pee (that’ll be the next marketing push).
So, before the preponderance of jewelry-quality created diamonds (De Beers loves that–not), I’ll bet someone went through the mined diamonds and chucked the brown ones into the Reject-for-Now pile. And some young marketing geek came upon the pile and said, “Hey, what about all these diamonds here? What are we gonna do with them?”
And someone replied, “Hell, kid, if you can convince people to buy ’em, we’ll cut you in for half.”
Okay, maybe not realistic, but fun to imagine. So, what has this got to do with writing?
You’ve heard the rote about coming up with a new take on things for your book to make it stand out from the crowd, right? I mean, how many vampire books are out there? Were-whatever books? Even zombies have moved into the mainstream–hell, even the classics (what would Jane Austen say about zombies in Pride and Prejudice?) No one wants to read another star-crossed lover story about a vampire and a human. Or another love triangle involving werewolves and vampires. Gawd, I don’t.
So, how do you make a vampire/werewolf/human/demon/angel/zombie romance fresh? Well, you could try the old “I’m supposed to kill you but I’ve fallen in love with you so how do we get out of this mess” story line. Not for romance? How about the old “we need to convince our families to put the feud aside and work together to fight this new threat” trick.
How do you make vampires fresh? How far can you break from the mythology and still have a recognizable vamp? A vamp that can walk in daylight? Yawn. A vamp that doesn’t need human blood? Heard it. A vamp that can control weres? See Laurell K Hamilton.
Or, you could try the “chocolate is the new brown” method. What mythic creatures have been tossed aside because they’re “brown”? Basilisks. Gargoyles. Dwarves. Selkies. Pucas. Ogres. No one wants to hear about an ogre, even if he has a talking donkey sidekick. Unless he sounds like a Scottish Mike Myers and the donkey is a smart-ass.
Basilisks? Remember those, with the stone stare? Look how JK Rowling turned it from “brown” to “chocolate”. Gargoyles? I know there’s at least a couple urban fantasy series featuring the brutes. Dwarves? Hello, J. R. R. Tolkein. Selkies? Try Anne McCaffery’s Petyabee series. Pucas? There’s a contemporary fantasy featuring a Puca co-protagonist by this new writer, J. M. Goebel–wait, it isn’t published yet. Disregard. And there’s a two-fer by C. S. Boyack with both dwarves and a basilisk.
So, sift through the “Reject for Now” pile for a “brown” diamond you can make into a “chocolate” gem. Bigfoot. Nessie. Mothman (check out Mae Clair). Wendigo. (Damn, I’ve been binge-watching too much Supernatural.) Will o’ the Wisp (C. S. Boyack again). Mer-people (though that’s almost played out now). Better yet, pull something out of the bin from Norse, Egyptian, Native American, African, or Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Vietnamese myths. Shine ‘er up. Tuck a Thunderbird into your fantasy. Add a touch of Horus. Mix in a Valkyrie or two.
Damn. Too many cool story ideas, not enough time. Besides, I’ve set my fantasy aside for now. Needs revision, but not until I’ve got my WIP polished, and I’ve got a different fantasy I want to work on. Alas, my Irish myth-based contemporary fantasy will have to wait for a bit.
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day weekend. Me? My hubby isn’t what you’d call romantic by anyone’s measure, but after 25 years, we’re good with a TiVO-ed episode of Supernatural and a glass of wine.