Monday, October 4, 2010

Guest: Marta Acosta

VampChix welcomes Marta Acosta, author of the Casa Dracula series!  She's smart, witty and her stories are absolutely hilarious.  Her latest, HAUNTED HONEYMOON, is in stores now!  Today, she's got some advice on how to create a paranormal story.  

Now that autumn is here, we’ve put away our beach reads and search for more thrilling and chilling tales.  The days are shorter, and you enjoy curling up in the evening with a favorite paranormal romance or urban fantasy story.  Perhaps you even think, gee, I wish I could write something like this, but you don’t know where to start.

I hear this all the time from aspiring writers.  Luckily, I’m the expert on your side! After years of in-depth analysis of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, I’ve developed a sure-fire formula for success. It’s as easy as mixing and matching six different genre requirements, which offer you innumerable possibilities.  (They aren’t really “innumerable,” but I’m not really a mathematician.)

1 - Choose one paranormal character among the following:

A. Vampire or vampire hunter
B. Werewolf/shifter or shifter hunter
C. Zombie/ghost or zombie/ghost killer
D. Demon or demon hunter

2 - Chose one character trait for your hero/heroine:

A. Strenuously resists taking on role or jumps at the opportunity
B. Unaware of extraordinary abilities or proud heir to abilities
C. Harbors dark secret or unaware of dark secret
D. Extraordinary abilities conflict with day job

3 - Select one major point of conflict:

A. Relative was killed by supernatural creature
B. Relative is a supernatural creature
C. Dating two different supernatural creatures
D. Parents alive and nag a lot about slumming with supernatural creatures

4 - Set your story in one of the following:

A. Present day and creatures are a big ol’ secret
B. Present day and there are creatures everywhere you look.
C. Fantasy world where your character wears a lot of leather and has tats
D. Fantasy world where your character meets ancient gods and there’s a lot of agony

5 - Name your character:

A. A seemingly banal name (Joss Whedon did it best and first with Buffy)
B. A single-syllable action-type name, like Lash or Spark, or weird spelling of meaningful word, like Stuhd.
C. A name that sounds suspiciously like a popular actress/character, like Gerald Cutler.
D. An ordinary name with a very hip nickname, i.e., Victoria could be Tore-up, or Ursula Louise could be U-lose.

6 - Add essential elements:

A. For comedy, add a fashionista best friend, a gay best friend, or an eccentric granny, or any combination thereof.
B. For tragedy, add a character maimed by a terrible accident who has some ancient skill or wisdom, preferably Celtic or Asian.
C. For drama, add a hacker who can crack any code, or add a super-important crisis, like the end of the world.
D. For romance, add a hero who has been waiting for 500 years to fall in love or a hero who thinks the heroine looks exactly like his first love or a hero who’s a Lothario and isn’t interested in love.

Now say, you decided to go A, B, C, D, A, B, you could write an action-packed thriller about a vampire hunter named Tiffany who eagerly takes on a job with a top secret agency, while dating a werewolf and a zombie in a world where powerful lords enact ancient vendettas.  Her mentor, an ageless blind warlock and fencing master, helps her battle immortal demons.

By simply switching out one element, say number 6-D for 6-A, you get a hilarious story about  Tiffany, a vampire, whose nutty grandmother insists on accompanying her on dates with her zombie and fire-lord demon boyfriends and offers advice on ancient gods who are trying to kill them.

Good luck and you can thank me later for saving you the cost of all those writing conferences!  

Visit Marta at her Website
and her blog, Vampire Wire


Rain Maiden said...

LOL! Thats just too much!

Marta said...

Hi, Rain Maiden, I have to share a secret with you: it's not really that easy. Now I have to go watch a show about how to make a lot of money selling real estate.

Patricia Altner said...

Hey Marta

Just saw your very helpful advice for wannabe authors. Since I foolishly signed up for NaNoWriMo this year and suddenly realized I had no idea what to write, I find your article to be a life saver!

Thank you!