The Lowly, Third-Level Demon's Guide To
Writing Supernatural Fiction.
(First Section of Foreword by Duke Adramalech)
Ach, so a piteous human has deigned to speak to me! How dare you even encroach my presence, you foul worm of the earth, you hideous scum brought to life from mud and clay! Do you even know who I am? I am Adramalech, fallen one and a regent of Pandemonium! My fury upon you will tear your flesh like tissue paper, and your eyes will melt as…what's that? You're the one who's here on work experience? Oh, my apologies. I thought you were one of those run-of-the-mill types with no more brain cells than noses. Forgive me foul mortal, and accept this dead imp as a gift!
It seems to me, mortal, that you are of the literary persuasion. You have come unto me, undoubtedly, seeking my wide-ranging and well-balanced knowledge of the subject, attempting to find gems of wisdom in my pensioner-like ramblings. And lo, I shall give you this advice, for as hot tar pours into the heads of sinners, so I too shall pour the molten rock of counsel into your small simian skull. As the hammer of Asmodai pounds the ribs of the damned, so too shall my wise words pound your understanding of the world into something a bit more squidgey and malleable. Oh well, enough with the painful imagery. Welcome to this guide, piteous one!
No doubt that you are some fledgling whelp stuck within the confines of a secondary / high school, tormented by bullies daily and set apart from the masses like a nasal hair is removed from pasta. And yet, deep within you, you find this innate ability to put your thoughts into words, and through these words create worlds of your own. Worlds where angels and demons frolic, where vampires suck the blood of the living and werewolves howl at the full moon. Worlds where the downtrodden live in filthy squalor, where heroes and anti-heroes alike rise from the muck to seek vengeance and justice upon their enemies. Either that, you're some laser-wielding science-fiction writer who's wandered into the wrong guide, probably hunting for some Asimov-or-Heinlein-esque nonsense! Begone from here, ye Trekkies and geeks! Oh…and you fantasy lot can bugger off as well. This isn't a place for elves or Gandalf wannabes! What do you think this is? Some sodding Dungeons and Dragons convention? These are real horns upon my crown, you know? I didn't fashion them out of papier mache. Now kindly bugger off before I sell your souls on eBay!
…Have they gone? Good…I'm sick of being challenged by any kid with a phaser or a staff who fancies himself a big hero. And they're ten a penny these days too. Anyway, on with my little introductory piece…
(At this point the speaker is interrupted by one Haku, bedraggled teenager and
soon-to-be best-selling, award-winning, lots-of-fun-sex-having author)
Bloody demons! You summon one for a cup of tea and they have the nerve to get all high and mighty. He even got claw-prints all over my best porcelain china. And as if that wasn't enough, he got fur down the back of my office chair. Oh well, I can always have the goblins mend it…
Greetings, friend! I'm the author here and I thought it would be a good idea for me to try and disseminate big fatty globules of help amongst my fellow authors. After all, as I always stipulate, there's no good brain-food like human interaction. Now, seeing as you're here and the big nasty demon has gone away, I suppose I better roll up my sleeves and tell you why I'm doing this.
1: This is done in order to rival the "Sci-Fi for Dummies" column, written by my friend Jave Harron. He's one kick-ass author who deserves a look-in. Check out that column too, but don't blame me when your head explodes and the rest of your body is assaulted by nanomachines…
2: Due to my overwhelmingly compassionate and not-at-all-arrogant nature, I want to extend my circle of literary contacts. Nothing like forming Machiavellian cabals……errrm…groups of friends in order to get the popularity ratings up!
3: Hopefully, if I help other people out, other people will help me out too and give me lots of advice and criticism.
4: I'm tired of my stories being pushed down the list by the same old rubbish i.e. "Angst-filled teenage vampire story" (which is something I'll be dealing in a subsequent chapter). I also want to increase healthy competition so I'll be forced to get my own writing up to scratch.
There you have it pallie. My reasons for being a self-centred mookle and taking it upon myself to try and teach other people what to do, and how not to do it. Before I charge on with the next chapters, I would just like to advocate three…well, maybe four…big rules which I advise anyone reading this to follow.
1: www.DOTwikipediaDOTcom. The fountain of knowledge, and it's all free. This wonderful online encyclopaedia has helped me find information on everything from the names of Fallen Angels to geographical locations, and from important historical dates to the numerous philosophical sides of many religions. If you want your story/ stories to have a firm level of correctness and validity, this is the place to go. Under-informed stories are often the worst stories going.
2: Always proofread your work. My advice to you is not to write a piece and immediately thereafter to post it on the net. Rather, take a break from your writing, go back to the piece, read it as if you were a normal reader and correct any mistakes you've made. If you're not confident in your work, use spell-check. After all, people get a little annoyed when they read stories about creatures who "pray" on the living and lie "doormint" during the day. Even better are bold "nights" who ride out to save "beutaful" princesses.
3: Read as much stuff as is humanly possible. Read genres you'd never even think of delving into. There are millions of authors out there, and reading their stuff will always help. If you read a fantastic story, you're bound to pick up some tips and end up finding more inspiration. If you read a crap story, you know what not to do in future. Reading someone else's work is never a waste of time. My own personal library stretches from Victorian gothic novels such as "Frankenstein", "Dracula", "Jekyll & Hyde" etc to some of Tolkien's works, and then from Bill Bryson to George Orwell. Read textbooks, religious works and guides. Read everything from fantasy to sci-fi, and from historical to travel. Heck, read leaflets. All this will do is give you a huge source for your inspiration, and in writing that's never a bad thing. Plus, it will also help extend your own vocabulary and spelling ab…abil…prowess. Apply this to fictionpress works too.
4: If I'm doing something wrong, tell me. If my work isn't up to scratch, then I won't learn unless someone tells me how I've made my mistake and how it can be corrected. It's always the worst teachers who simply rip the page from your book and tell you to do it again. I'm just as susceptible to mistakes as anyone. Help me out!
5: (Okay, I was lying about there only being four). Try and break away from genre clichés, however subtly. Don't take bog-standard stereotypes and put them through the same old mish-mash. Vampires need not be lusty and aristocratic, and your werewolves don't have to be feral or cunning (Maybe it would be a good idea would be to switch those ideas around?). Plus, those two races aren't the only supernatural bloodlines going. Ghosts, ghouls, zombies, elementals, golems, demons, jinni, succubae, mummies, gods, angels, Lovecraftian entities and aliens can all make an appearance. Why not write a story about a vampire trying to survive a zombie epidemic, for example, rather than a bunch of gun-toting hicks? And of course, if you can have werewolves, why not use werecats, werebears, werefoxes or anything else beginning with the prefix "were"? Just try moulding ideas into a different frame. It can't hurt, can it?
Well, that's the introductory bit done. Now keep up with me and I'll start by dealing with one race in particular – vampires.
(P.S…I don't think that imp really is dead…)