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October 21, 2014

Writing About: Vampires

In my (unpublished) supernatural-thriller series, some of my characters are actually vampires. When I was writing about them, Twilight was just getting big. For the longest time I battled with the idea of changing my story and eliminating the vampire angle completely. But doing that would mean I’d have to alter all the other stories, too. I eventually decided to keep the vampires, because I figured my books would be published well after the Twilight hype is over. Plus, my vampires are vastly different from Stephenie Meyer’s vampires. I went so far as to invent my own creation story for vampires. As a mythology buff, that was a lot of fun!
TIP #1: Study vampire lore to make characters vampire lovers will appreciate. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative.
Check out this Wikipedia list to compare notes and help you to decide what you want to do with your vampires.

Now here are 15 things to consider when you create vampire characters:

1.    Name

Come up with unique names for your vampires to make them stand out from any human characters you might have in your story. You don’t have to think extreme, but do better than Bob. Bob would be a sad vampire.

2.    Age

What age do your vampires look? (This will be whatever age they were bitten.) And how old are they really? Vampires are immortal, so a vampire that looks to be 21 years old can actually be 210 years old.

3.    Appearance

Give your vampire classic vampire traits such as pale skin. (Even a vampire with a dark complexion can still appear paler than normal. After all, a vampire is the living dead, and a person’s skin color changes with death.) You can also play with other characteristics of corpses such as blue lips and glazed eyes. If they live in the real world, though, let them wear disguises (sunglasses, long sleeves) so their differences can’t be noticed. And don’t forget the fangs!

Image by Chrys Fey.

4.    Feeding

A vampire isn’t a vampire unless it drinks blood. Don’t neglect this aspect. Even a vampire who refuses to attack and kill humans still needs to get blood from somewhere whether its animals like rats and pigs, or by stealing from blood banks. You can also show your vampire eating real food.

5.    Sleep

Vampires don’t come out during the day. In vampire lore, vampires are said to sleep during the day and wake as the sun goes down. At night, they prowl and “live.” If they do come out during the day, it would be when the sun’s rays are safe behind a thick layer of clouds, or with the help of magic.

6.    Lust

Vampires have many cravings from blood to sex. Make your vampires sensual and give them the opportunity to enjoy many pleasures.

7.    Weaknesses

All characters, even immortal ones, should have weaknesses. The biggest weakness for a vampire is the sun. When the sun’s rays touch them, they burn. Other weaknesses tend to be fire, and according to lore, stakes. A weakness can even be a person such as a parent, sibling, or lover.

8.    Abilities

Vampires inherit abilities from speed and agility to super hearing and vision. Take advantage of these whenever you can.

9.    Personality

Common characteristics a vampire can have are fearlessness and anger. He/she can be extra indulgent, dark and mysterious. But you can always change things up and create a happy, funny vampire. That’ll be different!

10. Transformation

How was your vampire turned? Who bit him/her to initiate the change? These are two very important questions you need to answer and tell your readers.

5 Extra Things to Consider:

·         Where does your vampire live?

·         Is your vampire part of a clan? (Is he/she a leader, King/Queen, or a loner?)

·         What does your vampire do? (Is he/she a hunter? Does he/she work at night for a company, or live freely with no binds?

·         What was your vampire before he/she was turned? (A mother/father? What was his/her job as a human?)

·         Does he/she have a love interest? (This would be a major part of the plot.)

TIP #2: Read Dracula by Bram Stocker and other vampire books by Anne Rice, Anita Blake, and J.R Ward. Also, watch movies like Queen of the Damned, Underworld, and Daybreakers. 
TIP #3: Check out Natasha Duncan’s blog for her April A to Z Challenge, which was dedicated to vampires. You’ll learn so much from her posts. 

QUESTION: If you’re a vampire fan, who writes your favorite vampire books?


Crystal Collier said...

Love the tips. I was writing a vampire musical the same time Stephanie Meyer was writing Twilight. Yeah, she kind of stole our thunder, but hey, life goes on.

I do have one book that was about vampires, but it took a very unique twist on them, and after chatting with one of my editors, I decided to alter it a bit, so they're not actually vampires, but something close. Of course that book won't be out for years and years to come, but it's still a pretty pet project that beckons to me on a regular basis.

Chrys Fey said...

She sure did steal our thunder. Gosh, darn it! ;)

I think putting a twist on vampires is the way to go, so you're not doing what everyone else does, and you can intrigue readers. The book in my series featuring vampires won't come out for many, many years, too. The first book doesn't even have an agent yet! lol But when your pretty pet project comes out, I'll buy it for sure! :D

Kelly Hashway said...

I've seen a lot of people call Sam from The Monster Within a psychic vampire. I never viewed her that way but I can see how they made the connection.

Patsy said...

I like how there are rules about what fictional creatures can and can't do - living forever is fine, walking down the street in the daytime totally unbelievable.

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah some sure may scoff if you change some of the vampire lore. But oh well. Let them scoff I say haha

Chrys Fey said...

I don't think there are limitations to what fictional creatures can do. Especially if they are immortal. As for vampires, I think they could walk down the street in the daytime, but with some precaution to keep with the lore.

Chrys Fey said...

A psychic vampire. That's interesting!

Chrys Fey said...

They would, but if you do it in a clever way then they may enjoy it.

Sherry Ellis said...

I'd like to know why vampires don't like garlic. Do you have an answer?

Sarah Foster said...

I've always had a thing for vampires. I was a huge Anne Rice fan when I was a teenager. I'm hoping to someday write a vampire book. I tried to do so for last year's NaNoWriMo but it didn't go so well so I kind of gave up on it.

Chrys Fey said...

I've had a thing for Anne Rice-type vampires, too. Gotta love Lestat. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I think it might have had to do with the pungent smell of garlic.

Unknown said...

Wow, Chrys, these are some AWESOME tips. I've always wanted to write about vampires but after the whole Twilight thing blew up, I never got around to it. BUT, with that being said, I think you could totally come up with some kick ass vampire characters. Just reading this post makes me look even more forward to reading your upcoming stories.
I laughed when you wrote about coming up with really unique and different names. And how a vampire named Bob would be sad, lol!

Chrys Fey said...

LOL! I'm glad you liked my name tip. I was hoping to give someone a chuckle with that one. ;) I really hope to publish these books, but I'm trying to get an agent for them we know...that takes time. *sighs* But thank you, Gina!

Lisa Thomson said...

Scary stuff :) I read Stephanie Meyer's trilogy and enjoyed it for the most part. I also read (many years ago) Anne Rice's Vampire books. Fascinating reads. Your sound great too! Great suggestions you've shared here. I don't know if I will have a vampire in any of my writings...hmmm, something to think about.

Robin said...

I know that everyone says that about Stephanie Meyer... but, I still think a well-told story (about vampires) is publishable. Heck, people were probably saying that about Anne Rice. That didn't stop someone from writing Buffy The Vampire Slayer (the movie) and Joss Whedon created two hit TV shows (Buffy and Angel). The Vampire Diaries is going strong on the CW and Supernatural features vampires sometimes. Each one of these stories has its own take on what it means to be a vampire. I love that. Good suggestions!!!

Christine Rains said...

I love vampire stories. One I read recently is The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman. What an amazing and dark read. Vampires a bit traditional and totally unexpected.

Robyn Campbell said...

I love the list, Chrys. Excellent job! Hmmm. I'd say that Karen Dales writes a darn good vampire story. I'm more into MG adventure and picture books since that's what I write. Ha.

Unknown said...

Great tips, Chrys! You know, I have an idea for a vampire story and I won't let Twilight keep me from writing it! Every story will be different so I wouldn't worry about the trend being done to death. Like Gina, I also like your tip about not naming a vampire "Bob," lol. We can do better than that!

Vanessa Morgan said...

I also wrote a vampire story (A Good Man). It's a little different from other stories in the genre because my main vampire character is old, suffers from arthritis and doesn't like his wrinkles. And as it's mainly a realistic story, he doesn't have any problems with daylight and garlic. He's actually very human, except that he needs blood and lives forever.

Carrie-Anne said...

I think the most original Vampyre character I've ever encountered was a gay Vampyre cowboy, courtesy of one of the participants of the now-defunct Six Sentence Sunday. No one could ever accuse that author of going for the cliché! (And yes, I pretentiously use the original spelling, Vampyre, though I somewhat hypocritically think the old spelling faery is too weird even for me.)

Loni Townsend said...

LOL, so is Duke a bad vampire name? :) Your comment about Bob made me think of Bill from Sookie Stackhouse.

Well, I think I got most of those covered.

Chrys Fey said...

I never read Stephenie's trilogy but I have read some of Anne's books. Adding a vampire to a book is not something to be taken lightly. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Anne Rice did a great job making vampires more human while also sticking to much of the vampire lore. I used to watch The Vampire Diaries but then lost track of what was going on. It's a great show, though! The key is to make the vampires in your book your own. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Oh, I'll have to read this book! Thanks for the suggestion, Christine!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you for the suggestion. I don't think I've read Karen Dales before, so I'll add her name to my list.

Chrys Fey said...

We sure can do better than "Bob!" LOL! Good luck with your vampire story. I bet it'll be AMAZING!!! ;)

Chrys Fey said...

That sounds awesome, Vanessa! I love the concept. Best of luck to you with it! :D

Chrys Fey said...

A gay vampire cowboy is very unique! I think the traditional spelling is magical, so go ahead and use it! ;)

Chrys Fey said...

HAHAHA! Nothing against Charlaine Harris, but with a name like Sookie Stackhouse, the vampire's name could've been a bit more unique. And I think the name Duke is great! I love Duke! And "duke" has great meanings:

1.a male holding the highest hereditary title in the British and certain other peerages.
2.(informal) the fists, especially when raised in a fighting attitude.

1.fight it out.

Gisele LeBlanc said...

Great tips! I have vampires in one of my current WsIP, but they are not the undead kind--they just have very different internal physiology. :) Not sure I can say I have a favourite vampire book author though.

Chrys Fey said...

That sounds interesting, Gisele! And I don't have a favorite vampire book either. I enjoy many of them, though. :)