Monday, 1 November 2010

A Stranger Shade of Pale

At the time I wrote This Pale Stranger I was judging a micro-fiction competition. Open to anybody, any subject, the only restriction the word count. In the first ten stories there were two about vampires... I began to despair.

And then I wrote my own vampire story.

There is nothing wrong with writing a vampire story, of course, but it's difficult to do it well and be original these days. But it can be done. Park Chan-Wook's film Thirst is a great example, the lead character a devout priest learning to deal with vampirism and the new urges it brings, superb stuff. Let the Right One In, again, an excellent approach to the subject. Both of these go into the psychology of the vampire and find fertile ground for story-telling there.

I will not claim mine has any of that depth, it's a bit of fun, the undead in the wild west, and I like it. I'm not sure why I went with the Nosferatu style of teeth, maybe just for something different.

This was going to be longer. In my head the stranger saves the sheriff, then they spend the night clearing the town, burning the bodies and the stranger says his final line as he rides away, not into the sunrise because, well...

But, all that would have been filler. For the sake of micro-fiction it would have to have been so much tell and not enough show (again with the show and tell!). It would have been a few paragraphs of sweeping events, the whorehouse; Jed’s mother, maybe; the superstitious, drunk native; blood and guts and gore. To justify itself beyond the punch line it would need human drama and characterisation, it would need to be fully humanised – a longer short story, not just a missing piece.

I like this idea of a racial war between the undead; the zombies and the vampires. They are both so similar in some ways, the hunger and the undeath. But the vampires have thought...

One day it may become a longer piece. A larger part of the puzzle.

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