Is my novel too complicated?

by Tammy
(Michigan )

Question: I'm writing a teen werewolf novel and it's hard for me to make my characters and plot unique. The problem is that I read the Twilight series and a bunch of supernatural romance novels and I'm afraid that mine is going to be to similar to one of them or not as good. My main character is a shy girl, named Tiffany, who just moved in with her father in a new town, kind of like in Twilight but she's not as weak and wimpy as Bella and her dad's a detective. She's quiet and shy but she doesn't stay that way. Soon after meeting Tristan, a flirty bad boy with a secret and a childhood friend that she forgot, her personality starts to change.

When Tristan's saves Tiffany's life she vows to uncover his secret. She starts having dreams of Tristan every night but not of the Tristan she knows from school. Dream - Tristan is rude, controlling and dark. Finding out more about Tristan, Tiffany swears that she will continue to be his friend no matter what. But things get complicated when people in town start dying and people start suspecting Tristan and his friends.
Tiffany also has to deal with Sam, a creep who believes that he has to protect her from Tristan. Sam is stalking her, calling her house, sending her expensive gifts that she doesn't want, and keeps calling her Annabelle.
Tristan, alpha of his pack made a treaty with Sam's coven that neither side would reveal the existence of Werewolves or Vampires to anyone not a part of they're Pack/Coven. But when Tristan finds his mate Tiffany it takes everything he has to contain himself. He doesn't love her but the intense attraction is too much to resist but by bringing her into his world he could cause a war between the coven and the pack.

Sam, a dangerous vampire with an unhealthy obsession with Tiffany, who is the splitting image of his deceased mate, refusing to allow Tristan to have what he has dubbed as his. He doesn't care if it leads to a war.

As Tristan and Tiffany try to recover her lost childhood memories they stumble on a family secret that could change everything.
And when Tiffany finds out the horrible thing that Tristan did 3 years ago she's not sure she can be friends with him anymore.
And with a unknown vampire killing towns people and seeking revenge for the Prey that got away on the loose it's hard to to find a moment to relax.

Now, unlike a lot of stories, I want to keep Tiffany grounded in the real world. She has friends that know nothing of the supernatural but are very involved in her life, a dad who loves her but suspects her best friend to be involved in the murders going on around town, a mother who's pregnant and wants Tiffany to come back to California to help with the baby, and plans for the future that she refuses to change.
Tiffany doesn't believe in marriage or want children. She wants to go to Yale and get her law degree and then travel the world and she also has a thing for art.
Tristan is okay with the marriage thing but wants children. He's also bound to his pack and can't just abandon everyone who needs him.

There are mini flashbacks throughout the story of Tristan and Tiffany's childhood n those will mostly happen from Tristan's P.o.V.
It's not an instant love story. They both meet and think the other one is attractive but only Tristan is willing to do something about it.
Tiffany has trouble believing in love. Her parents are divorced and her mom married a younger man while her dad refused to ever date anyone again.

"You only meet the love of your life once and if you blow it with them then there's no point in trying," he often said.

Tiffany took
those words to heart and decided to not even try. And when she finds out Tristan is a year younger than her it puts another nail in the coffin. She won't even admit she loves him to herself until halfway to the end of the novel.
Once she finally tells him, things should be happy but moment is bittersweet because she's decided to move back to California to live with her mother and leaves him a letter instead of of saying it in person.

On the last page as she is on the plane heading back to California, she reveals that it's because she loves Tristan to much that she knew that if she stayed with him she would lose herself. She could see her staying in the town, going to a community college, marrying Tristan, and having children and she knew she would be happy and would probably never regret it but she wasn't ready for that.

If it didn't work out, would she have become her father, a cynical, workaholic, who refuses to ever try again or would she become her mother, a desperate woman who will date anyone because she's afraid of dying alone.

The fact that Tristan is a werewolf won't have anything to do with her decision and on the last page she won't even remember it because that's not who Tristan is to her and the supernatural world is not her world, you know.

Does it sound good?

I'm worried that I made it too complicated that people won't want to read it. It's directed towards teens but will they get the message or will it go over heads? I don't know, I may be over stressing myself.

Answer: First, I don't think your story is too complicated for a novel.

Second, I can also see the similarities between your story and Twilight, and I'm not a huge Twilight fan.

However, I think there is an easy fix, which is to develop the overall throughline into something unique.

One of Twilight's weaknesses (no offense to fans) lies in the overall throughline, which is plotline that involves or affects most characters -- the overall story world. In Twilight this is the story of the Cullinses' effort to protect Bella from James and avoid a war with the werewolves (due to the treaty).

Most of the story revolves around the relationship throughline (between Bella and Edward), the throughline of Bella's inner conflict, and the throughline of Edward (as impact character). The overall throughline barely gets started until 2/3 of the way through the book. The film adaptation tries to correct this by introducing James and his allies earlier in the story.

Right now, your overall throughline seems to be about the vampire in town who is seeking revenge. At first glance, this vampire sounds a bit like James. If you can make this throughline markedly different from that of Twilight and let the events of this throughline happen while the relationship and character arcs unfold, you could probably keep the character and relationship largely arcs as they are (since you've done a lot of good work on them and obviously feel passionate about them) and still make a story that is totally unique. Perhaps start by not making the villain a vampire?

The overall plot should revolve around a story goal or objective. This can take many forms. In Twilight it's a thriller plot. Other possibilities include...

* solving a mystery
* obtaining something important
* preventing a crime
* stopping the past from repeating
* winning (freedom, a contest, status, a prize, one's place in the world)
* coping with a threat
* transformation
* changing/bringing about a future
* changing an opinion
* etc.

The overall plot is a handy way to get the characters involved in doing something together (or working against each other) -- which creates opportunities for the relationships to develop.

This article may help with developing the overall throughline...

Best of luck.

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