Friday, November 12, 2010

Revenant Evil

NaNo, you soul sucking bastard, oh how I love you so…

Word Count – 13,406.  “Suggested” Word Count – 18,334

rockyI feel like Rocky Balboa at the end of the first Rocky movie.  He wasn’t trying to beat Apollo Creed; he just wanted to go fifteen rounds (or however many it was; it’s been a while) with the champ. He just wanted to prove that he belonged there, to himself more than anyone (and Adrienne). He knew wasn’t the best, but he knew he could compete with the best. 

It’s NaNo day twelve as I stagger to my corner.  I’ve got the cauliflower ear, someone needs to slice open the puffy sack under my eye with a razor blade, and I’m spitting blood into a bucket.  But I’m in it.  Whatever happens, no matter how many times the blank page shouts up at me “It’s over!” or “Yer a bum!” in its best Burgess Meredith, I’m keeping on keeping on. 

I started slowly, barely crawled, in fact. Life got in the way in the wee hours of Monday morning, and I didn’t actually write a word that wasn’t part of the title until Day 2. But I’m kicking along pretty good. I actually like the story, and when the draft’s finished and I go back to revise, I think I might have something pretty good. Personally, I like the characters, and I’m eager to find out what happens next (even though I already know, mostly). If you can get engaging characters and an interesting plot, you about 90% there.

I had originally conceived of a zombie-takes-revenge-on-a-town tale, and became concerned when my undead refused to behave like traditional zombies. It’s one thing to have a fresh take on the genre, it’s another thing to throw beloved conventions and expectations out the window. Anyone who would go near a zombie book wants to read about zombies, and zombies are specific creatures with specific attributes. I was worried my “zombies” would be so far off the map that I’d annoy or bore the very audience I’d be seeking. Until I realized I wasn’t writing about zombies at all.

It turns my undead weren’t zombies but revenants, a term I’d heard before here and there but hadn’t given much thought to. A revenant (as most horror and comics fans know) is an undead (corporeal or ghost) with an individual personality and a specific motivation, usually revenge. Revenants are often brought back via magic or with the aid of some sort of necromancer. In some cases, there can be “good-guy” revenants like Spawn. There’s no zombie apocalypse or zombie virus. This description fits my undead perfectly. It was exactly what I needed to help shape my story and keep the plot from spewing out all over the place.

I just think it’s interesting how I tapped unconsciously into something that’s been a part of folklore and pop culture for centuries without even realizing. Somewhere down the road (when I’m not writing a novel in a month) there’s a blog about the collective subconscious.

Maybe that’s why people keep stealing my ideas two years before I have them.


  1. Glad things are working out for your NaNo writing. It's funny how characters can take us off track, and somehow they know the story better than we do.

    I am having this issue right now!!! My characters want a differnt path to the end than I do and we've both got the boxing gloves on. Neither one of us are giving in--yet.

    I will inevitably be me who bends. I don't know why I fight with them. . .

    Oh, hell. I gotta go write. Maybe I'll start at the end and work backward.


  2. My characters have chosen an ending so different from mine, I don't think I can even call it YA anymore. The sad part is, their ending is so much better than mine was, and they know it, too.

  3. I haven’t heard of the term revenant before. I feel so enlightened now!

    I do find it pays off to listen to our characters - even when they insist on taking a different path.

    Sounds like you’re moving at a pretty good pace for NaNo. Wishing you continued success for the second half of the challenge.