Vampires are creatures from mythology and folklore. Their stories and beliefs have been passed down from generation to generation, cultures or word of mouth. So it carries the historical view, culture, and stories. Writing a vampire story or character is not simple because you have to do much research and follow the rules.
You can’t break or manipulate the traits of vampires to write something unique because people know about them. But you can create a different plot, story, or trope by following those traits/rules without manipulation.
How to write a vampire character?
Look at folklore and real-world stories to find something a little bit different. Vampires have been written in English since the early 1800s and have existed in folklore far beyond that. The place that most people will associate with vampires is Transylvania in Romania. But that’s not the only place that vampire folklore can be found.
There’s vampire folklore in Greece, Germany, Scandinavia, and China, even if they’re not specifically called vampires, which drain blood found all over the place. With these inspirations, the seeds of finding something new that breaks the mold are right there. You need to find them and apply them to the designs that you already have. I will discuss my 7 special tips to write a vampire character for your fantasy or paranormal novel. Let’s begin!
1. Make a list of stereotypical things
When you have a popular vampire, it’s easy for a reader to spot a badly executed product from a mile away. At first, make a list of all of the stereotypical things that you associate with vampires. Here are some examples:
- Vampires can’t go in the sunlight.
- They don’t have a reflection in the mirror.
- No garlic, holy water, or crucifixes.
Make a list of everything you can think of as a stereotypical vampire trait. Have a good look at everything that you’ve found. These traits of a vampire are going to serve in the story as a whole. You don’t have to use everything. A personal writing motto, which I tend to use with everything, is simplified. That works here.
Pick out the ones you will need to use that will tie into your story and help your character development. You don’t have to include it if it has no place.
2. Reveal the backstory
Describe the backstory about how your character became a vampire in the first place. Were they born that way, or where they turn into a vampire? There are many different ways a character may become a vampire in the world of your book. It’s essential to consider these options.
In some stories, you’ll notice that a character can be born as a vampire. But in other stories, a character might have to get turned into a vampire, either through being bitten by a vampire.
3. Develop a goal
Do develop your vampire characters’ current goals from their back story. Keep in mind that most vampires in fiction will be very old. Most vampires will have long lifespans, meaning their lifespan will come with a fascinating and complex backstory. Also, the age of your vampires depends on your story as well. You may decide that you want your vampire characters to have a similar lifespan as your human characters.
- If you give your vampire characters longer than normal lifespans, keep in mind that your vampire characters have very well-developed backstories.
Moreover, their backstories will likely fit the goals that they have today. You may have seen or experienced many difficult things in the past that affect how you experience things now. Maybe they are more hesitant to get closer to humans or other characters for these reasons.
4. Set a philosophy
Give characters a personal philosophy. While there may be good and bad vampires in your story, remember that not all vampires should be the same. It’s vital that when you develop vampire characters.
- In order to keep them realistic and meaningful, every vampire character you create should have a personal philosophy.
So there is nothing as set in stone as a good or a bad vampire character. Also, it’s essential to consider what each character values personally and how that affects how they live their lives.
For example, in your book, if a vampire can live as a vegetarian vampire. Think about how that affects your vampire characters and personal philosophies. Maybe they’re the kind of vampire who doesn’t believe in those philosophies and has their own beliefs that they follow.
As a vampire character, some vampires in your story might think it is okay to bite humans, and some think it is not. Some cool-hearted vampires want to be friends with the humans instead.
5. Make some rules
Consider the vampire rules in your book. Setting some rules, sticking to them, and maintaining consistency is essential. Vampires can vary from story to story, and it’s crucial to establish your vampire rules in your book before you further create your vampire characters. So look at the main vampire rules and think about if you’re going to use those types of rules in your book or if you’re going to change them up and create different rules.
For example, can your vampires go near garlic or eat garlic? Can your vampires go out in the sunlight? Vampire characters need to drink blood to survive. Think about the common vampire rules that exist and consider if you might want to use those same rules or if you want to put your spin on those rules to create something new.
6. Show the different life stages
Determine the vampire life stages with an extended vampire life. If you choose to extend your vampire character’s life, there will be vast life stages. Also, it’s crucial to think about each important stage of your vampire character’s life.
So there might be a time when they come of age as vampires and essentially become adults. Maybe there’s an age when they get certain powers as a vampire, or there’s a time when they finally develop their emotional abilities. So think about the different life stages of vampire characters and how that might affect them in the world of your story.
7. Use the vampirism as a tool to highlight something bigger
When ‘Dracula’ was first written, it wasn’t necessarily taken as a horror story. It was taken as a piece of invasion literature, which was common at the time. There was this real fear among the Victorian public of being toppled by this strange, otherworldly menace beyond what they might be able to control.
Vampires can be a metaphor for many different things, and that’s not necessarily to say that you need to load your story with metaphors. You can use vampirism as more than the sum of its parts to drive your story forward in a new way that we haven’t seen before. That is the most important thing when you’re writing vampires.
6 types of vampires
Vampires are said to possess different powers, from transforming into bats and sometimes nothingness, mental and physical strengths, flying and super senses, nor do they age with time.
Here are 6 types of vampires that can help your writing:
Aswang vampires are not your average type of vampire. They are like small dragons with scaly skin and batwings with long tongues. Also, they are said to congregate around the Philippine islands and the corrupted spirit of a person who was never born. However, there are stories that they are sorcerers and can shapeshift.
Their sole purpose is to make their neighbors miserable and attack older adults and small children as they cannot protect themselves. Also, they are mostly females who will attack human males while they are sleeping. Their crafty ways are hiding in the victims outside the gutter and waiting until it is quiet.
Vrykokolas come from Greece and are known as Catha canes on the Crete island. They are almost identical to humans and can also appear in the daylight but not until the afternoon. They have a reddish tint in their hair which for Greeks is quite rare.
Some of the other vampires cast no shadow off the sunlight or any other light that normally has a shadow. They don’t always drink blood to survive, although they do from time to time, and they steal people’s food and wine off the table.
The Malaysian vampire is called a Penanggalan, a common undead form. It is solely the floating head of a woman with intestines trailing behind who has died while birth turning her into a horrible presence. She is usually controlled by an evil spirit that has possessed her. They travel at night, fly through the air, and have staring eyes and razor-sharp teeth.
Penanggalan vampires attack pregnant women and children. Once they have fed their lust for blood, the head returns to the tomb and reconnects with the body.
Sampiro vampires attack their own families and people who are known to them. So, they should never be trusted, and they will attack you and feed off your blood in their blood-thirsty ways. They habitat certain areas of the Bosnian alps and are Albanian vampires. Sampiro is the corpses of the people who did not have a correct burial ceremony upon their death.
This vampire is from the Scandinavian areas and is a nasty piece of work. If this thing gets hold of you, then you’ve had it! They hoard Viking-style treasures and are superhuman in strength.
Also, they will nest themselves near the graves of Vikings, especially those buried with treasure, as they would then claim it for themselves. These vampires will certainly not pass as human-looking as their skin is a dark grey or an eerie-colored white.
Strigoii vampires are the undead from Romania and are almost unrecognizable to healthy living. There are two types: Moroii, which are suitable and blessed, and Strigoii, which are plain evil. They are said to be able to rise from the dead and continue in life as if they didn’t die.
Strigoii vampires are evil, spiteful, unpopular, and were mean people before they died, and they continue to be so as a vampire. They have heightened senses and will know what you’re thinking.
A lot of the symptoms of vampirism in my book are taken essentially from my life, and I’ve been able to use my own experience of dealing with photosensitivity to help me inform what it would be like to be a vampire.
Not everybody has that personal experience, and that’s fine. But it shows that there are real conditions out there that you can look at to help inform you. If you utilize inspiration from real-life situations, you must do so respectfully, but don’t let that stop you. It can be a font of inspiration for informing your vampires. There are many ways to create your vampire characters and make them slightly different.
I would argue that no other mythological or supernatural creature has the potential for as much range in popular culture as a vampire. Try something new and break the mold. Show the reader something they haven’t seen before, and allow them to call into their collective consciousness of popular culture and everything they already know about vampires.
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