I’ll admit it, I’m a story vampire — I consume the stories people tell me and turn them into fiction. I collect the little seedlings of narratives I find in the newspaper; I squeeze the juicy characters out of classics — transforming them into contemporary people; I take note of the rhythms and speech patterns around me to create voices and credible dialog; but most of all I absorb the stories I hear.
Most of my friends have learned that an anecdote or quick observation might wind up as the starting point for a story. A few have even warned me off recycling a tempting tidbit. In the absence of a specific promise not to write about it — whatever it is — its fair game as fiction fodder.
Being a story vampire means I’m obligated to suck the story dry, leaving only traces of the original inspiration. I’m not reporting the news or simply dressing up that tiny article at the bottom of the newspaper page about the body found in a field behind a barn — the story vampire magic is in the metamorphosis and the results must be something new.
Inviting a story vampire into your life is a whole lot safer than opening the door to a conventional vampire — or to the familiar psychic variation (AKA the time-sucking, energy-sucking people we all know and try desperately to avoid.)
So next time a friendly writer listens intently, tell them a great story!