Vampires, Fairies and Dragons, Oh My!: Inviting the Whimsical into Your Story
Hello there Cherie fans!
My name is Alana Garrigues, and I'd like to thank Cherie for hosting my co-editor, Nutschell Anne Windsor, and me during our whirlwind January Story Sprouts CBW-LA Writing Day Exercises and Anthology blog tour! (More on that later.) We're so happy to be here.
If you're a regular reader of Cherie's blog, I'm going to first assume that you are here to bask in her awesome personality whenever you can - good choice! - and then I'm going to assume you are into special magical mysterious things.
Things like vampires and mermaids, dragons and fairies, speaking flora and fauna, magical potions, witches and wizards, unexplainable beings and unnatural coincidences. Things our left brains tell us don't exist, but our right brains scream of possibility and wonder.
I'm going to assume this because you love to read the works of a very talented speculative fiction author, and because I believe there is still a leprechaun-chasing, tooth fairy-dreaming, Rudolph-spotting child hiding in all of us, looking for the magic.
As we age, some of us cling to the memories of childhood magical beings that are benevolent and kind and grant wishes, while others delve a little into our fears and the dark side, curious about monsters and night dwellers and black magic. And as much as some may argue that make-believe and imagination is for kids, we know that is not so. Magical, imaginary characters and their powers for good and evil stand up as allegories of what it really means to be human, with all of our hopes and anxiety. They also entertain the heck out of us.
Now, a quick time-out to tell you about Story Sprouts ... and how it relates to this post.
Within the anthology, there are aliens invading earth's candy shops, a boy hidden in a robot suit, a character with a vivid flashback of her warrior life centuries before, a hidden room in a seemingly parallel world, vampire shopkeepers, magical wishes, a fairy that protects children from bad decisions, an oozing sandpit taking monstrous shape, a counseling Greek god, and a magical flying pinwheel.
They are all placed in our human world, living among us mere mortals, exposing our weaknesses. Greed, haste, confusion, moral dilemmas, feelings of inadequacy. I believe that is precisely the purpose of introducing make-believe characters in our stories. By inviting the whimsy into our human stories, we are tapping into our childhood yearning for magic while uncovering character traits that may otherwise go unseen. At the same time, in creating a world where human meets imaginary, we are creating an instant tension that draws a reader into the story.
Not all of our writers used whimsical characters. Several of the stories contain all humans, thrown into situations out of their control, and those stories are very strong too. But so many of our writers drifted into the land of vampires and fairies because we gave them permission to play with the concept during that six-hour writing workshop. We provided a character box filled with mad scientists and tricksters, dark wizards and zombies, werewolves and aliens, vampires and fairies, as well as more traditional character types, and encouraged our readers to pick characters at random, allowing them to puzzle and play with magic.
More about Story Sprouts: Released in October, it is the first in a series of Writing Day Workshop Anthologies, which we plan to publish annually. As a bonus, now through January, we're donating 50% of the proceeds from all sales of the book (Kindle and Paperback on Amazon) to Philippine Relief Efforts! So, you can support fellow writers, get 10 great writing exercises and donate to charity for as little as $4.99 - great deal!