Tips for Writing a Better Vampire Story
The most popular monster in fiction right now is the vampire. He’s everywhere, in every genre. If you are planning to write a vampire story, you may find yourself dead before you even start. Vampires are so prolific that another story is like trying to bury four people in a single coffin. What will make your vampire story stand out from the thousands of other undead manuscripts? Perhaps this will help you stake a sell for that vampire story.
A creature for all seasons
Every genre has some subgenre with vampires in it. Even though the creature of the night started out in the world of horror, he took on a different light around two decades ago. The idea of a living corpse that feasted on blood became sexy instead of scary. Now, the nosferatu variety of vampire is almost synonymous with brooding passion and wild nights. If your story is a paranormal romance, then nosferatu-type vampires are what you are wanting. This is because Dracula was this type of vampire. As the monster has continued in pop culture most vampires are the nosferatu-type. Lestat, Edward, and those crazy hot vamps that Ms. Stackhouse hangs with are all nosferatu-types.
The romance genre’s takeover of the nosferatu-type vampire is why most other genres will not readily accept this type of vampire anymore. Horror has almost completely killed these guys off. Dark and urban fantasy still allow them, but prefers them as heroic characters instead of villains. These two subgenres of fantasy like their vampires sexy as well.
In romance and dark and urban fantasy, the sexy nosferatu with brooding eyes, dark looks, and pale skin will work and be an accepted trope. Dark and urban fantasy will allow for the blood gorging and other tropes of vampires more readily than romance. So if you want to put gore into the story, trend toward the fantasy subgenres.
Wide World of Vamps
For the other genres, other types of vampires are needed to make a good sale and a good vampire story. Nosferatu-type vampires are just one type. The vampire is one of the oldest myths mankind has. Every culture has stories of creatures that were at one time human that feed on the living. Don’t limit your story to just the Dracula archetype of vampires. Expand out. Google vampire legend or pick up one of the numerous encyclopedias of vampires that are available. Find a good take on the old monster and write a story that deals with that.
Science fiction and vampires.
Yes, you can write a sci-fi vampire story. Oftentimes, the vamps in these stories are aliens or creatures that have been changed because of science. I Am Legend (the book not the Will Smith movie) is a good example of a crossover vampire story. The creatures come about due to a virus. There is not hard science in the book, but there is enough scientific explanation to make it a sci-fi work as well as horror. If you have never read this book, it should be the next thing you read. The nice thing about sci-fi vampires is that they can feed on anything, not just blood. It expands the possibilities.
Horror and vampires.
Not many horror writers write traditional vampire stories anymore. They will write about vampiric creatures, but try to avoid the Dracula archetype, unless lampooning it or skewing the cliché. What most horror publications and publishers want from vampires is something evil and sinister. Dracula won’t do it anymore. The best route is to use another type of vampire legend and write the story that way. Also finding other food sources within humans that vampires can eat is another way of making a horror vampire story. (Psychic vampires have been done to death as well, so think harder.)
There are always going to be vampire stories. The creature is too rooted in our subconscious for there not to be. At some point, there will be a revival of the terrifying nosferatu-type story, but for now, it’s the avenue of romance, dark and urban fantasy, and many young adult titles. Science fiction has never accepted that type of vampire preferring something extraterrestrial or bred from science. Horror owes a lot to the nosferatu, and it remembers it. Unfortunately, he is too tame for the horror world of today, and the genre demands something with extreme evil and cunning like the nosferatu was when he first showed up on bookshelves.
Write your vampire story. Work hard to make it the best it can be and see what happens. But be aware, vampire stories are everywhere and will be a hard to sell.