Xlibris Publishing returns to share writing tips on Vampires in Fiction.
Vampires with Limitations
It is important to establish what limitations and weaknesses vampires in your setting have. This serves three purposes. Firstly it serves a narrative purpose, ensuring your vampires do not appear invincible and thus boring. Unless you are using a vampire as a key antagonist and thus need it to be nigh unstoppable, to better pose a threat to your protagonist. Even then you still need a way for your protagonists to believably overcome their vampiric foe, a weakness to exploit even if at great difficulty.
Secondly, there should be a cost to being a vampire, something tangible on top of a loss of humanity (see Part 1), a weakness the vampire must suffer and fear. Sunlight, silver, and sanctified objects or places, are common choices as all have folkloric roots as banes to supernatural horrors. Silver has long held purifying properties in folk medicine and beliefs.
If there is more than one vampire in your setting, having an enemy vampire who can overcome these weaknesses to a degree, can better establish that one vampire’s power and the threat it poses. Perhaps an elder vampire can regenerate its flesh as fast as the sun damages it, for a time. Perhaps normal wooden stakes are incapable of piercing the hardened dead heart of an ancient vampire, without sufficient force. Perhaps an elder vampire has the strength of will to pluck and remove silver bullets from its body, ignoring the pain.
Vampires as Living History
Another to element to keep in mind when writing your vampires is the history they have likely seen and experienced. Depending on when and where a vampire originated could heavily influence the events, places, and peoples it has known. Use that. Consider how a vampire that lived through the Renaissance might view modern art and modern art culture.
The history and cultures a vampire has lived with, either before or after its undeath, could shapes it identity, its demeanour, fashion, values. A vampire that originated and lived among Native American tribes from a time long before Western Colonization would likely be incredibly different from one that originated from Victorian London.
How well vampires can or cannot adapt to modern times and fashion is up to you, the writer. Even if a vampire is perfectly capable of blending into the modern nights, you should still consider ways to allow what history it has experienced to show through its behaviour and dialogue. Perhaps a vampire that originated from Medieval Germany prefers a more direct, hands-on, method for dealing with problems. While a vampire of another, more politically dominated origins, might prefer misdirection and intrigue.
Vampires in Relationships
Writing the relationships vampires can have with various other characters can be a challenge, whether it is humans, other vampires, or other supernatural creatures. It would help you to keep in mind some of the above advice regarding vampires. If vampires are predators, then even at their most cultured and erudite they will resort to predatory instincts and perspectives.
In this sense a vampire might perceive humans as chattel at worst or a favoured pet at best. Nearby vampires and supernatural creatures would either be treated as subservient or as threats to its territory, much like lions and wolves. Considering how long-lived vampires can be in fiction, they might have trouble forming meaningful relationships with humans, whose mortal existences would be brief and fleeting compared to a vampires.
Time, in long enough stretches, can also witness massive shifts in relationship between vampires and other long-lived supernaturals. Enemies can become rivals before even becoming friends of a sort. Or grudges can become more entrenched, more intense to a degree beyond mortal comprehension. What of love? Would love between vampires (or other immortals) truly last through eternity, or would it become stale and boring? These are factors to consider when writing vampires in your stories.
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By Ian Smith