I’ve always love the time of year between Halloween and Christmas. The clocks have reverted to GMT, the nights are drawing in and it’s a perfect excuse for doing on those super cosy things with lights and bonfires – and walks in the forest. At this time of year stories of ghosts, ghouls and vampires have extra potency. If this is your sort of thing then you won’t want to miss Katy Birchall’s The Vampire Slayer’s Survival Guide. You have to be prepared, right?
Katy has written a special blog for us. Remember though – it’s not just Halloween when the vampires are abroad. So may sure you carry your guide with you just in case the vampire you meet is not a vegetarian, like the one in this story.
Halloween is one of my favourite times of year. I love everything about it: the costumes, the pumpkin carving, toasting marshmallows, trick-or-treating, and, of course, spooky stories! I had so much fun writing How Not to be a Vampire Slayer and its sequel The Vampire Slayer’s Survival Guide because I got the chance to write my very own Halloween story…and, trust me, creating your own monsters is a LOT of fun.
When it comes to writing your spooky story, firstly have a think about drawing inspiration from old legends and myths about monsters, witches and vampires, and consider the Halloween stories that you’ve enjoyed reading. What is it that you like about them? Do you want to write about a vampire, like Dracula? Are you more interested in folk tales about witches? Are slimy monsters more your thing? Do ghosts fascinate you?
You can take inspiration from other Halloween stories in popular culture and put your own spin on it—for example, I decided that I would like to give a modern twist to the legends surrounding the vampire Dracula, BUT I also love funny books, so I wanted to make my story a comedy. And that’s how I ended up with the idea for How Not to be a Vampire Slayer: the descendent of a famous slayer family, Maggie, ends up becoming friends with Sharptooth Shadow, the chosen leader of the vampires. Chaos ensues!
Once you have an idea of what kind of Halloween story you’d like to write—whether it’s scary or funny or romantic—start asking yourself the following questions to help form your plot.
Remember, this is your story…the answers to these questions can be whatever you’d like!
- Where is your story set?
- What world is this story set in? Is it set in our world? If so, which country? Or would you like to set your spooky story in a completely different world that you’ve imagined? For example, a fantasy world where vampires, ghosts and ghouls are the norm.
- Where is the action going to happen? A busy, bustling city with lots of people? The peace of the countryside about to be shaken up by a monster? An appropriately eerie woodland or forest?
- What time period? Is this a contemporary setting? Or set in a different century?
- Time to create your spooky characters…and their backstory!
- Who are your lead characters? Do you have a human hero coming up against a scary vampire/witch/monster? Or do you want to spin that tradition on its head and make the monster the hero?
- Think about looks: What does your supernatural character look like? If they are a vampire, are they wearing a traditional vampire outfit of cloak and high collar? What about your witch—are they wearing a big hat and riding a broom? If they’re trying to blend in with humans, do they look completely normal during the day but become spooky at night? Does your monster have the ability to shape-shift? Is your ghost visible to the human eye? Remember, the world and time period in which you’ve set your story may impact your answers to these questions!
- How old are they? Are you writing about a teen witch, a young vampire or perhaps a 300-year-old ghost? If they are young, do they go to school and if so, what kind of school? A school for witches or a normal human school where no one knows what they really are? If they’re older, do they have a job? And do they look their age, or could they be a vampire who looks thirteen, but she’s actually 542 years old?
- Do they have a family? Was your monster born a monster? If so, do they have monster parents and monster siblings? OR did they become a monster later on in life after being a human? And if so, how did they become a monster? A science experiment gone wrong? Did they fall under a spell of a magical item, like a vampire ring? Do they still have a human family? Do they live with them, but in disguise? Does their family know their secret?
- Where do they live? Is your vampire living in a big spooky castle as you might expect? Or do they attend a vampire boarding school? Perhaps your witch lives in an everyday house on an everyday street because she’s trying to blend in with humans and pretend she’s not magical! Or is she living in a house shaped like a pumpkin, proud to show off that she is a witch? Where does your ghost lurk? Are they friends with a human, so stay at their house? Do the people in the house know they’re living with a ghost?
- VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION: Is your monster good or evil? I decided to make my vampire, Sharptooth Shadow, a good vampire…but she’s living with evil vampires! What are you going to decide for your monster? Are they good and here to save the day? Or are they a deliciously evil villain? It’s your story, so it’s your call!
- What do they want? Your character’s motivation will drive your plot!
- If they are good…
- Are they trying to save the world from a villain? Is that villain their known nemesis?
- Or are they on some kind of quest?
- Do they need to save their school? Or their family?
- If they are bad…
- Are they trying to take over the world? If so, why? Do they want power, fame and riches? Do they want to be the leader of all humans?
- Or is this a revenge story? Do they want revenge for something spooky that happened to them in the past? Maybe they want revenge on the person who turned them into a monster!
- And if they are evil, do they stay that way…or do they meet someone who prompts them to become good by the end?
By going through these questions, you will have a great starting point for your characters and the spooky adventures they’ll embark on in your Halloween story! Happy writing…