Ever since the unfortunate glorification of Twilight, the paranormal romance genre began to take on vampires in hopes of duplicating Stephenie Meyer’s Edward Cullen, who for some reason is one of the best characters of the 2000s. Now Twilight in general, and not just with Edward, has managed to create a very... special... kind of vampire. These vampires don’t burn in the sun, or need to feed on human blood, or sleep during the day, or have any interesting aspects to them. Instead, they sparkle in the sun, and seem perfectly fine with drinking animal blood. Also these vampires are in general just wusses. They whine about being ‘monsters’ all their eternal lives and don’t even bother to make their peace with this fact. Only the evil vampires kill humans, but apparently only evil vampires do that in Twilight. Only evil vampires seem to have the vampiric instincts. But that doesn’t matter either, because the evil vampires are one dimensional and uninteresting.
Now to clarify what exactly the point of this rant is, well the point of this rant is thus: ever since the Twilight vampires appeared, the vampire genre has now been sparkled up with shallow, mythologically-incorrect creatures that are so far beyond what a vampire is meant to be that it’s not even funny. What’s worse? These vampire pussies are being compared to the classics like Dracula, Lestat, and are considered to be THE vampires now instead of the traditional (By the way, traditional doesn’t mean you have to include capes and turning into bats). That’s right, people actually now complain about vampires drinking human blood, and burning in the sun, and being scary in general, because apparently that’s not what vampires are supposed to be now. Me and my wonderful girlfriend Space ferret, who is a vampire guru, have decided to sit down together and educate the masses on what vampires are meant to be. There will be a long list and long rants so this topic will be split into different parts.
What people need to understand about writing vampires is this: when you write about vampires you are going down a well-worn path and with doing that there are a few established rules. That's not to say that you can't be creative, rather on the contrary, but there a few things you HAVE to include, concepts you MUST grapple with whether its a traditional vampire, nosferatu or modern.
In the current YA books, you rarely see vampires drinking blood anymore. In Twilight you only see vampires drinking animal blood and for some reason or another managing to keep healthy and sane, and in other books like Marked and Evernight you don't see vampires needing to drink blood at all. Well okay, Evernight had it a little, but only a little. And that little was not enough. Vampires NEED to drink blood. Blood preserves and heals, keeps them hydrated, and that’s what keeps them alive (depending on your interpretation: either it keeps them alive, or healthy or it keeps them beautiful and sane). Vampires need human blood. Human blood supplies vampires with the nutrients that they need, which they can’t find in animal blood. If you're a Vampire Chronicles fan you would know this is dealt with pretty well in Interview with the vampire, when Lestat describes animal blood as helpful for surviving in emergency situations, but it's not something you can live on as a vampire. Human blood is a must for vampires. It’s not a choice and you can’t just change it. That would be like not having your human character eat food and just drink water. No, we NEED to eat food, so our body can get nutrients, vitamins, et cetera, and just in general survive! It’s like saying “OMG I don’t wanna hurt plants or animals so I’m gonna eat the dirt instead!!!”
Sunlight is a harder aspect of vampirism to grasp, because there are many different levels to it. For example Bram Stoker's Dracula didn't even burn in the sun, and there is a term for vampires who can go out in the sun called 'Daywalkers' (or half breeds). It's not wrong not to have your vampires burn in the sunlight, but you have to make sure your explanation as to why makes sense. And please, PLEASE, don't do sparkles. If the vampires in Twilight just claimed the burning in the sun to be a myth then we would have no problem, but there is no explanation as to why they sparkled like a disco ball. Well there is one, which is that Stephenie Meyer had a dream about a sparkling vampire. But that's dream logic. Dream logic is not logic. And you can't use it to justify something.
Too much emo:
"WAAAAAAAAAAAAA I'm a monsterrrr and WAAAAAAA I need to drink blood to surviveeeeee!"
"Don't come near me, I'm too dangerous! Even though I love you." -stalks- "Didn't I tell you I'm too dangerous????? ILOVEYOU!!!" -stalks some more- "I'M DANGEROUS!!! I LOVE YOU! STAY AWAY FROM ME!!!!1111"
Okay, a whiny vampire only works if you're Louis. But that's only because Anne Rice puts variety in her vampires. But in the current YA vampire books we see waaaaaaaaaay too much whining, and it's every single vampire character (except some of the villains). Whining is not the way to make a vampire humane, and it's obvious it is intended to be as such. It's overused, it's boring, it gets tiring after a few seconds, and you just want them to shut up. If you do want to make a humane vampire the trick is to make them humane within their own culture. No matter what vampires will always be killers, always be hunters and always be the predator to humans, but there are distinctly more humane vampires than others. We see a good example of this in the Vladimir Todd chronicles when Vlad is given a choice to take part in a vampiric sport which involves herding, terrifying and eventually killing humans just for the fun of it. Sure there is a basis in food but there is also this element of doing it "for the hunt". A humane vampire opts out of this practice. Yes the vampire still kills to live, but still they can choose not to torment humanity just because they are able to. Show a vampires humanity through their actions (if you must), and not what they complain about. A vampire's humanity is often shown by the way they treat their victims. However not every singe vampire is humane, and it's not necessary that only the evil vampires are not humane. Vampires are meant to be morally ambiguous. It's not a simple 'Good or evil' situation. Within vampires there is always a shade of grey, but that can be made interesting. Don't be lazy because it might be too complex.
Food. Yes or no? (By co-blogger Space ferret)
Okay, there a lot of different opinions with this one, many authors choose to tackle it in different ways. But I think for logical answers, the best way to explain this is by treating vampires as if they were a living species and imagining what kind of digestive system they would have. Being a person who has given this a lot of thought and bored people to tears with rants, I have come up with two different systems that could be used.
1. The "digestive" Vampire.
This is a system where vampires have a digestive system much like our own, and the blood is needed for the different components in order to get various nutrients. The idea is that the blood is broken down into its basic chemicals and absorbed and used as nutrients. This leaves open the idea that vampires could possibly take in other forms of food or preferably liquid (because I imagine a vampires digestive tract may look a lot like that of a honey or nectar feeder) to supplement the initial blood. Though the nutrients in food I imagine are by no means optimal for a vampire. Therefore if a vampire ate food or drank something it would have to get rid of various toxins that would start to build up in their systems, so as a result you get a horde of vampires who need to make use of bathrooms. The distaste many vampires have for food, specifically the concept that regular food tastes roughly like charcoal, would then just be attributed to changed taste buds. Overall solid foods are not ideal for a vampire. They will have trouble eating solids, not because they can't chew it, but because they can't digest it as well. Ideally you need to puree anything you're going got feed a vampire, unfortunately this gives a pathway to things such as the beef-smoothie but they're actually realistic.
2. The "Transfusion" Vampire This is a system is where a vampire does not technically have a digestive system, but rather a large and elaborate cardio-vascular system that allows for the introduction of new blood. It goes like this: Vampire drinks blood - Blood runs into something I can only describe as a "holding cell" as its cleaned of toxins such as various kinds of drugs including alcohol, caffeine, etc - after the blood is cleaned it is then slowly introduced to the vampires own bloodstream, the earlier mention toxins are then released from the body through a vampires hair and nails.
Now you're asking "well how the hell does that affect my vampire?" Well quite simply my dear Watson. If your vampire has one of these systems and then through an accident (by forgetting) or sheer stupidity decides to try and eat normal food or drink a normal drink (including water) they could very well die in the next 48 hours from it. Your vampire would become horrifically ill very very quickly because you've essentially injected them with puree cheeseburger, which will eventually float to their brains and other internal organs and wreck all kind of havoc unless it is removed from the vampires system ASAP. In this map your vampire would not have a bladder and have no use for a bathroom except for maybe if they ate normal food and needed to violently expel it as quickly as possible. Either way having vampire eat food or not eat food is really the author's choice but if you are going to have a vampire going through the KFC takeout make sure to explain WHY they can eat food, and if you are going to go through with an eating vampire keep their food simple. No matter what they're built to take simple nutrients, not an all you can eat curry buffet.