Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Taking Cliché Vampire Themes and Making Them Your Own

Vampires are a far cry from an original supernatural creature. They’ve existed in literature for centuries. So, how do you write about them and make them feel new? This was one of the biggest challenges I faced when writing Unearthed after Sunset. How to put your own twist on a story is a question writers tackle no matter what they’re writing about. There are no new plots, as they say. So, writers are constantly trying to create their own spin on things. With a vampire story, however, I feel like this is particularly difficult because if you twist too much then are you really writing about vampires anymore?

Readers expect to see some of the typical vampire stereotypes. We all know that vampires are immortal blood drinkers that burn in the sun and live in gothic mansions. They have no reflections, hate garlic, sleep in coffins, and can’t come in your house unless invited. The only way to kill them is with a wooden stake through the heart and they can be warded off with a handy religious symbol like a crucifix or holy water.

Follow all these rules and you risk being cliché, but don’t follow enough or change too many of them and you risk leaving your readers feeling like they got tricked into reading a vampire-book that isn’t really about vampires.

So, here’s what I did with Unearthed after Sunset:

First, I looked all the vampire rules/stereotypes and decided what I needed to keep so that my creatures would still feel like vampires. For Unearthed after Sunset that meant they had to drink blood. They just wouldn’t feel like vampires to me if they didn’t drink blood. I also wanted to keep the rule that vampires burn in the sun. Those were the two most iconic vampire rules to me, so they had to stay.

Second, I had to decide where does vampirism come from in my story. This meant deciding if it had a magical cause or one more akin to a virus. Since there’s no magic in my vampire universe, I eliminated the vampire rules/stereotypes that related specifically to magic. The vampires in Unearthed after Sunset are not deterred by Holy water, crosses, or garlic, and they can enter your house without an invite. They also do have reflections.

Third, I decided what things I wanted to take my own twist on. The biggest change I made with Unearthed after Sunset was changing what killed my vampires. I tweaked the traditional stake through the heart by deciding that it’s not the wood that actually kills the vampires. Since vampirism is like a virus in my world, I decided the way to kill them would be with a substance that “cured” the virus. So, my vampire hunters use wood stakes, but they soak them in Transylvanian Sage Oil, which is what actually destroys the vampire virus.

Another thing I tweaked was making it so my vampires could only drink human blood. Part of the reason I made this change was because I felt like a lot of vampire novels have recently gone the way of the “vegetarian vampire” who only drinks animal blood. And, while that was an original twist when I first heard of it, I now feel like being a veggie-vamp is too easy. Making this change not only helped my story feel more original, but it also added an obstacle for my characters and I enjoy making them suffer.

I tweaked a few other things, but if you want to know what other twists I took on the stereotypical vampire mythology you’ll have to read Unearthed after Sunset.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Indie Book Goal 2018