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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The overdone stories: Vampires

Originally, vampires were always monsters -- bloodsucking fiends, reanimated corpses, cruel and terrible creatures. Count Dracula, for one, was a terrifying guy; add in Anne Rice novels, and you understand why people were scared of vampires for so many hundreds of years. In the space of a century, we've defanged them and turned them into Edward Cullen, sparkling in the sunlight.

But Twilight wasn't the beginning; it was the culmination. I don't know everything, but I think that Dark Shadows, the 1960s series, was the first to have a brooding, romantic vampire. Funny thing is, his name was Barnabas Collins. The series revamped in the 80s, but it didn't last quite as long as the first one. Then came Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it's spin-off Angel, which I used to be in love with. In that story, vampires lost their souls when they were turned, but Angelus was cursed to have his soul back. Later, Spike (or William the Bloody) was given a soul as well and subsequently went insane for a while.
The Vampire Diaries, The Gates, and all the others that I've yet to see but will probably get into sometime soon. Those are defanged vampire stories, the kind I like. But that's not to say that I'm every other teenager in the world (though you probably don't believe me). I don't like sparkles, and vampire/human relationships tend to get on my nerves with their pointlessness. Here are the five reasons I write about vampires.

5.  Every popular story has a certain amount of crowd-pleasers, intentionally put in to make people like it (including the author; you don't write something unless you're having fun with it). Some stories have more (ones that appeal to a younger crowd especially), and some don't need more than a couple. Vampires -- definitely crowd-pleasers. Going with vampires, a lot of violence, gore, and in the case of my favorite genre, romance.

4.  Plot holes. Every story has them. Vampires tend to have enhanced abilities -- strength, speed, hearing, etc. That can make it easy to get the character out of most situations that a human would be stuck in. Of course, vampires themselves create new plot holes, but... Well, every author has to deal with those.

3.  Where vampires go, lycans follow. Werewolves, shape-shifters. I happen to love those, and I've spent several years developing pack mentalities and histories. I have fun with those.

2.  Immortals are always cool. Four hundred years of history to explore, letting your character do literally everything, and you can put him through anything. Broken bones will heal by the next morning; you can even kill him because he'll be back.

1.  When writing a story, you always end up with a moral, whether you planned to or not, even if it's a small one. Vampires provide an excellent setting for one of my favorite morals - choice. When turned into an undead creature that can only survive by drinking blood, do you have to give in to the urge and be a monster? Or do you have the choice to be something else? A vampire I'm currently writing about -- Lucius Gray -- has been trying to find a cure for his vampirism for seventy-plus years. The moral is that everyone has a choice, at all times, to be who they want to be.

And you know, it does help that vampire fiction usually shows them as the modern equivalent of the sons of Greek gods. I may be a writer, but I'm still a seventeen-almost-eighteen-year-old woman.

By the way, I have no issue with Twilight. I read the first two books, and they weren't really my style, so I do tend to make fun of them, but I'll admit that they were good for teenagers. They teach abstinence, and they're fresh, different from the other romances that follow the exact same storyline. Oh, and I was definitely Team Edward.

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