Dracula: Left or Right? And Where Twilight Went Wrong

Beyond Every Mirror

Last week, a friend called me with a great idea for a TV show she wants to pitch to Netflix. She was contacting me because, a) She is a huge fan of my fiction, so she wishes to have me co-write with the scriptwriter for the show, and b) Because of my knowledge of horses (around which the show will revolve). All this aside, we got talking about my books, vampire books in general and then about why she loves my books (other than reviews, we authors rarely hear why people love, or even hate, our books). Of course Anne Rice came into the conversation. My books have been compared to Anne Rice’s, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. But the fact is, I am not Anne Rice (I wish I had her fame and money though); I am my own writer with my own style.

In any event, the reason Anne Rice came to play in our conversation was not to compare my books to hers (a first), but to make a point. My friend started with reference to Dracula. “Dracula was the start,” she said. “He’s the pinnacle of vampire fiction.” The culmination of all things vampire. Several vampire genres made their way into the conversation, including, of course, Twilight. “Twilight is what vampire fiction shouldn’t be!” She went on to explain that she, like most vampire fans (particularly adults), like vampires who stay on the basic Dracula path, taking their own road but remaining either to the left or right of it.

Twilight, for example, is nowhere near it! It has its own road and I have found that vampire lovers either love it or hate it. Since it’s geared towards young adults, who usually haven’t had a ton of exposure to vampire fiction of all kinds through many years, they can accept sparkling blood drinkers who don’t bleed when you cut off an appendage.

Anne Rice, on the other hand, parallels Dracula in many ways, as Dracula is one heck of a horrifying romance. Many consider the relationship between Louis, Lestat and Claudia a sort of difunctional sexual family, even though Anne Rice’s vampires can’t have sex in a traditional way. Then, of course, there’s the blood exchange. That’s where Twilight falls short; These are vampires… where’s the blood? (said in the same vein as the “Where’s the beef?” lady (Clara Peller) of 1984)

My friend made it clear that most vampire stories fall short of Dracula in too many ways, but mine are on the other parallel of Dracula, along the same (once again) vein as Anne Rice, yet quite different. “They are both unique but don’t stray too far from the original vampire stories.”

I thought it might be fun to make a chart comparing our vampires and the basic “Dracula” rules… Just the vampires mentioned here. I know many many vampire authors exist out there, but I can’t compare them all, so I will stick to Ms. Rice, Dracula and, yes, Twilight, to my vampires (I know, I am not famous yet, but It’s my Blog and I’ll say what I want to..” (think “It’s My Party” by Leslie Gore, 1963). I also, believe it or not, read little vampire fiction. I have trouble liking most of the characters. I have read True Blood, Dracula, Dracula-like books, Vampire Chronicles, and Christine Feehan. I used to read older vampire fiction, such as by romance authors Karen E. Taylor and Maggie Shayne (and others).

Check out the chart below:

Fate of the True Vampires

 


CHART

DRACULA VAMPIRE CHRONICLES

 

TWILIGHT

 

FATE OF THE TRUE VAMPIRES

 

Drinks Human Blood YES             YES          YES
Turns into animals/mist, whatever…  NO             NO           NO

(Today, it seems, shifters have their own genres and vampires don’t fit that category any longer)

Killed by sun (No) YES No, they only sparkle!! (NOTE: How can something that drinks blood to exist be made of… what are they made of… alloy??) Most.

(rare exceptions can walk in sun)

(In the original “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, 1897, Dracula could go out in daylight.
It wasn’t until the movie “Nosferatu” (1922) that vampires were depicted as being killed by sunlight)

Can Fly (as a bat or other winged animal only) YES
( as themselves, but only certain powerful ones have this ability)
NO           NO
Can’t see self in mirror They CAN see selves in mirrors They can see selves Can see selves in mirrors

(so, apparently the mirror reflection thing is gone from most vampire fiction today)

Repelled by crosses/crucifixes Nope. As Louis says, “I’m quite fond of looking at crucifixes” NO NO.

Originals were considered Gods and existed long before Christianity

Tragic romance plot      Some believe IWTV was romantic (and tragic). Other “romance” can be found in other books in series. No tragic…anything! Multiple romances throughout the series. Some tragic.
Evil, scary vampires Some could be considered “evil” None (not even the bad guys are scary) Some might call Yin evil

 


WRITERS: Write a better novel in 5 steps

I like to read self-published authors. However, and unfortunately, I find that at least 85% of what I read doesn’t hold my attention for more than a paragraph, maybe two. Most people will read the very beginning of your book (some will try through a page or more, others may stop at the first sentence). If there’s nothing there to capture them, they stop. Just TELLING a story is not enough. And telling is what I am finding all too often in self-published books. The problem I have also found is that, because self-published books are so dominant on places like Amazon, and it’s so easy to toss a book up there no matter what its content, readers are beginning to look at faster plots and writing. They’re forgetting what good prose really looks like, or think it’s “too flowery.” I am not saying you need to write “purple prose,” but if you truly want something memorable that readers will get so drawn into, they will forget the world around them and be sad when the story ends, then keep these tips in mind.
  1. Start your novel with true HOOK. For example, someone walking down the street is only interesting if they are being followed and the writing SHOWS how your characters feels, what they think, sights, smells, etc. around them. Make us FEEL how they feel. Get us into their head.
  2. SHOW don’t tell. This is almost a cliche today, yet it holds true more today than ever. In my 30+ years writing, publishing and reading, I have never read more crap than what is out there today. The characters are just going along, doing things, thinking a few things, talking, but there’s NO sense of urgency, nothing to draw me into the story. I read the first few paragraphs to get a sense of the author’s writing style and if something catches my attention, I keep reading. 90% of the books (particularly self-published) that I read do not make me read any further.
  3. Have a VOICE. Each character should have their own distinct voice and personality. Don’t forget character quirks. We all have them.
  4. Write your first draft any way you want. Edit on your next drafts, making each edit like building a person from the skeleton up. And don’t stop building until you have a WHOLE person. Don’t leave your character without skin.
  5. Be UNIQUE. It’s ok if you want to write the new Twilight, but don’t copy Stephenie Meyer. That’s been done. Find a new angle, unique characters and a different story. Make it YOURS.
Make sure to give yourself TIME in between drafts. Let the book “cool” so you can go at it with fresh eyes. I have made the mistake of putting a book out too soon, so I get it, I really do. But, it’s vital to be patient.