I don’t think it’s necessary to go into as much background detail for the other supernatural types at this point, but I do already have vague ideas in mind for them.
Angels were once a massive force that ruled all. Over time, their numbers have dwindled to the point of obscurity, with exception of a single city (Los Angeles, probably). I have no plans to link them to any religion or make any mention of a god. Rather, I’d like them to be creatures that have existed for millennia and are the inspiration for many religious stories.
The shee (sidhe, celtic faires; makes it easier to call them what they sound like) are in a similar situation. They were once a powerful nation but have been diminished by loss over the centuries. Divided into a multitude of small clans, they typically live in forested areas across the world. Their lives still revolve around the use of magic, using it to stay hidden from the modern world.
Demons began as what was thought to be an aberration, the result of dark magic gone awry. The complete lack of grace, stolen or otherwise, transformed any being into a wholly other creature. While they retained somewhat of their former physical and mental stature, there was no telling what sort of monster one might become without a soul. The story will deal with at least three types: vampire, werewolf and succubus.
I’d already decided on the west coast, most likely Arizona, but need to consider how many people are in the area. The nature of how my aliens attack means population is important to the scenery. A large city will quickly become chaotic, with aliens around every corner. A small town might be too slow of a spread for the pace I have in mind and not indicative of what’s happening in the rest of the world. Either a large town or a small city, with say 50,000 people, might be an ideal urban setting. Let’s say it’s roughly twenty minutes from a major city. This would provide enough limited isolation to slow the chaos at first and let it snowball as we progress. We’ll also make this an affluent small city, expensive to live in, well maintained and attractive.
I have a small group of people in mind to begin with, which I may or may not add to as I go. A lot will depend on what I do with the story, which I honestly haven’t given much thought to yet. I want the protagonist to be a teenaged boy. I’d considered a girl, but the other two characters (vampire and succubus) I envision with him are women. The fourth (a werewolf) will eventually join and can be either, though I’ll most likely decide on male to even things out. I haven’t settled on names and only have a vague idea of backgrounds and characteristics.
Boy (name) will be average size, not particularly smart or attractive, not at all popular and will have a small group of friends. His standout quality is his willingness to help to others. This will lead into the beginning of the story. He has no siblings, lost his mother to a car accident when he was eight, and his father makes a decent living as an architect. No plans at this point, but it’s possible to turn his mother’s death into something darker, maybe a mob related incident (making his father an architect is a play on the mob construction work trope). We could even make it a demon mafia. (I run into this problem a lot; I tend to plan out novel sized tales in my head, even when working on a short story.)
Vampire (name) is a young shee, which is highly unusual. While a vampire’s veins tend to show in a color depending on their maker’s bloodline (only when they need to feed), a shee vampire’s veins glow blue with stolen grace when sated (and pulse slowly when hungry). An outcast from her clan, she relies heavily on magic to survive. She’s moderately attractive while her appearance is enhanced with a glamour. This is to keep from drawing too much attention. She’s smart, cunning and a quick thinker. Her innate talents at magic had her on track to become an Adept, before her poor choice at a young age completely ruined it all. There will be mystery and tension regarding her background, who sired her and why she chose to become a vampire. I have no details in mind, other than it was a selfless act to save another (most likely a sibling or love who turns their back on her once she’s changed).
Succubus (name) is an old, fallen angel (humans are so boring). She’s stunning in appearance by design. Without her glamour, however, she is horrific to behold. Just as vampires feed on grace through the blood, a succubus does so through intimate physical contact. There has to be a measure of willingness on the victim’s part, so she is all about magical seduction and illusion. She is fairly intelligent, highly perceptive and has learned quite a bit over the years. This isn’t to say she doesn’t fall back on her old ways from time to time and resort to brute force to get her way when she’s impatient. This doesn’t happen often though, because a succubus always gets her way. Her background will also be shrouded in mystery, from how she fell (so to speak) to who she blames for the theft of her grace. Fallen angels are rare, because they’re hated by angels (for what they’ve become) and other demons (for what they used to be) alike. Their black wings can be used to power some of the oldest, darkest magic, so they’re openly hunted as well.
Werewolf (name) is a young beta from a small pack, separated from his kin in the aftermath and struggling to return home. He’s attractive, fit but not overly bright. He’s often at odds with the curse that has altered his instincts, resulting in aggressive displays of frustration and anger. Unlike most of his kind, he was not turned with a bite. He was born a werewolf, a pureblood, destined to one day lead a pack of his own. His parents, and most of his pack, were slaughtered by vampires years ago. This will cause immediate tension when he encounters the other characters. While the venom from a werewolf bite can weaken other demons, a pureblood’s venom can kill. The mystery surrounding him will be in how and why he was separated from his pack. It could be from an outside threat to them all or perhaps an inner scheme to remove any chance of him taking over as alpha.
I may or may not add other characters along the way, new types of demon, angels and shee or maybe even a dragon. I just need a core group to start with. Any other additions will depend on where I go with the story.
A short story is typically 12 to 40 pages. Any more and you’re looking at a novella. I’ve always had a hard time working within so few pages, as my mind naturally works toward larger tales. Whether I flesh out all these side stories or just allude to them, I can’t help but consider them as they start writing themselves in my head (usually in the shower; go figure). So even at the longest, I only have eight five-page scenes to work with. A scene can be longer or shorter, but I tend to aim for five. This leaves me wondering: what can I accomplish in eight scenes?
The best way, in my opinion, to limit myself in pages is to know where it all ends. Once I have that, I can figure out how events led there and pick a suitable starting point. Even if the most obvious beginning for this particular story is when the meteor shower first hits, delivering the aliens, I could potentially start just before (developing the main character) or sometime after (placing more emphasis on the characters than what’s going on around them.
Figuring out where the story ends is the key to making it all work. I need to decide on a satisfying climax and conclusion, even if that ending could be easily continued in a larger work. Considering the scope of the story, a planet-wide alien invasion and rise up of the supernatural to fight them off, I can’t really finish with a complete cessation of conflict. There’s just no way, in my mind, to portray a believable victory in eight scenes (assuming I would even want to end it in success).
I can’t think in terms of the entire invasion and follow the actions of a teenaged boy in a small city. The conflict, the mission and its success have to be smaller in scope. Perhaps learning of and exploiting a weakness in the alien physiology for a small victory is enough to hint at a larger success at a later date. Aside from killing, how else could the aliens be thwarted? Perhaps a way to prevent their spread is discovered or invented, by either scientific or magical means. This wouldn’t put an immediate end to the threat, but it would give that glimpse of hope that things could end well in time. Multiplying their numbers is the aliens’ greatest strength. Take that away, and the threat isn’t so overwhelming.
Another option is to consider the monsters (angels, demons and possibly the shee) as immune to the aliens’ invasive DNA. A solution to stave off their spread might be to convert all humans to demons (via vampirism, lycanthropy or any other means). This would, however, diminish the monsters as saviors theme I was going for. I could make this the opinion of smaller factions in the supernatural world, though. A fallback plan for some but for others the only way they see to win.
As always, I look forward to any comments. Feel free to drop by my Discord server for discussion.