Monday, April 15, 2013

[Link] On Writing Vampires

by Selah Janel

So my friend and co-conspirator in crime Susan Roddey had a blog post the other day about the popularity of anti-heroes and showcasing “bad” characters in fiction. This got me thinking. This also makes sense because we both have stories in the upcoming anthology The Big Bad, and that’s pretty much the theme.  I have to admit, I had a blast writing the story that’s in that anthology for a variety of reasons. One, it gave me a chance to let the snarky, cursey, gore-happy bad girl side out (For those who know me, no, that is not my usual personality and yes, it does get much worse). Two, I got to write a vampire story…and those who know me know how much I stinkin’ love vampire fiction.

However, because of the theme of the anthology and apparently I go about things in an unconventional way, this got me thinking. What makes a good vampire story? Now I’m not necessarily talking about vampire romance or vampires that just show up as one of a myriad of creatures in urban fantasy. What makes  a good modern vampire story? (Not that I’m assuming mine is brilliant, though John Hartness seems to like it alright, so there!)

For me, you have to know right away what your character’s strengths and weaknesses are. This will set the stage for the whole story. Are you following conventional folklore? If so, how does that affect life in the modern world? If not, can you make the changes make sense or at least feel like they make sense?  In my case, I tend to strike a middle road, and since an anthology submission doesn’t give a lot of room for explanations, I’ve learned to do more showing than telling.

What’s the hierarchy and political structure of vampires in your world, and does it matter? In my story, it very much matters. The two vampire characters are on the run from someone who can very much affect their future in many, many ways – none of them pretty. Where they end up may seem boring for urban fantasy/horror, but it’s a safe place for them to hide. 

How was your vampire turned? This will affect the character’s personalities. For instance, my characters love being vampires, but they have no love of how they were turned. They took a potentially crappy situation and made it suit them. They have no regrets, but they’re still being haunted by something (or someone) that was pressing them into being turned.

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