5 Ways to Keep Your Vampire Novel from Sucking

Categories: Books

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Let's say you've written a vampire novel, and just hypothetically we'll say it's called Last Rites and your name is Kevin R. Given. Vampires are still riding high on a giant wave of popularity, and though it shows signs of slowing down, there are still a lot of people out there tapping away on their word processors on the subject.

Hell, one of the biggest-selling self-published authors of all times rode a fanged wave into $2 million dollars worth of sales based on a young adult vampire romance with an urban setting. Her name was Amanda Hocking and she was averaging 9,000 sales a day at one point less than two years ago. Last year she signed a four-book publishing deal for another $2 million dollars. All because of vampires.

Still, vampire fiction is like hair metal. It started out strong with some original voices, but as soon as there was money to be made, people began cobbling together whatever they could to fit the mold enough to cash in. The result is some very, very shoddy work. We don't know for a fact that this was Given's motive to write Last Rites, but we do know that we threw up our hands in frustration after reading roughly 50 pages. Here are the sins you need to avoid when writing about the nosferatu.


Thou shalt not use old horror actors' names

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One of the first clues we got that we weren't going to like Last Rites was that the main character was named Karl Vincent... clearly an homage to both Boris Karloff and Vincent Price. You can't even get through the second chapter without meeting Don Chaney Jr. (That's even lazier) and Frankie Langella (Oh, come on...you're not even fucking trying, are you?).

We know what the mind-set is, and it is just as annoying as a person who goes on and on about the time they met Johnny Cash. You're hoping we will associate your work with other famous scarefests, but trust us, that association has to be earned. Or perhaps the goal is simply to harness the power of those names. Well, if you want a guide, go read 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King. His antagonists are Kurt Barlow and Richard Straker. Do you see how King's used just the right combination of stress and switcheroo to make you think of Boris Karloff and Bram Stoker? It's subtle, but it's there.

Of course, the other thing you might be doing is showing off your knowledge of old horror movies, in which case you need to get way more hipster douchebag and obscure. These names are total mainstream, and it makes you look lazy. Either pull King's trick, or if you can't then just skim through a phone book until you find a good name.



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10 comments
Kevin Given
Kevin Given

Yes, I'm back.  I feel that I have to share my own list of 5 after re-reading this review of my novel again.  (It will probably be deleated soon, but some of you out there will read it, I hope, before it does.)  The reviewer obviously has not read the book but skimmed through it with the purpose of destroying it, so here it goes:

The top 5 ways to keep your review of a vampire novel from sucking:

1) Actually read the book.  To go into a novel with the intention of destroying it is shoddy at best.  I can take negative reviews of my book.  I have no problem accepting a negative review from someone who can at least tell me the names of 5 main characters in the novel but for someone to just skim through it with the purpose of cutting it down I don't believe is fair.  Can this reviewer tell me who Sebastian actually is?  (He will probably go back to the book to find out, if he posts an answer)

2) Read all novels with an open mind.  If you haven't finished the novel then your mind is not open and I don't feel you have the right to print something negative without even knowing the plot.  I don't feel that its fair to the reader or the author.

3) Discuss the plot points.  Of course, you can't do that if you haven't read the book at all, which this reviewer obviously has not.  Someone who might show an interest in buying the book will want to know where the story is headed.  Why did Johnny Carradine kill Lyndon?  What of Lyndon's relationship to Karl?  what of Karl's relationship to Sebastian?

4) discuss the characters.  This reviewer discusses one incident and one character, who is dead in the first chapter.  What about Abssi (One of my favorite vampires) who was an anarchist before developing Bubonic plague, turned by vampire Dyjamal,  healed of the plague but with no memories of his life as a human.  How about Udo, who was turned during a time of persecution for the Persian Jews and now has an intense hatred for anything Egyptian or Muslim.

5) discuss all aspects of the book.  This is not specifically a horror novel but a horror/comedy.  As the author I don't think this will go down in history as a literary masterpiece but I do think it's a fun read.  It's escapism, fast paced action packed with Ninja's (No comments on Kate's character either) Immortals, Time travellers and Vombies (Vampire/Zombie hybrids.)   has it all been done before? Yes!  It has been called "The Magnificent Seven," "Star Wars," "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and upteen other titles through history.  If I should be sued then so should Akira Kurasawa, George Lucas, Alan Moore and so on.  Did I write it to make money? Of course!  No shame in admitting that! I leave you with these two thoughts on literature.

"No man, except a blockhead, ever wrote, except for money." and "there are no new stories, only new ways to tell the same story."

Kevin Given
Kevin Given

Please forgive my typos, typing in a hurry as I always do!

Kevin Given
Kevin Given

I would like to comment on the review of my book "Last Rites"  First of all this is horror/comedy and should not be taken as a horror novel.  Also the name "Karl Vincent" is not an homage to Boris Karloff or Vincent Price.  It is an homage to Carl Kolchak of "Night stalker" and Peter Vincent from "Fright Night"  Karl is proud of his german heritage and therefore has kept the "K" spelling. of his name.  Yes I admit the use of variations of actors names was on purpose.  If that is a sin then I shall tell my priest that in the confessional this sunday. Now,as to my use of ancient demi-gods.  Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis used ancient summarian religion to wide mainstream success with their horror/comedy called "Ghost busters"  and I did not find this film boring in any way (nor did the movie going public who made it one of the most successfull films of 1984.)  I can take criticism, I've been doing it all my life, but this review seemed to be written just to point out what the reviewer considered to be my weaknesses, even thoug authors have been doing what I've been done for years.  George Lucas was inspired by the Bible and the Legend of King Author and came up with Star Wars.  Nothing about the plot or story line in my book  is said at all which leads me to conclude that they did not even read the whole thing.  So, if you want to take this review as fair and accurate be my guest.  But I challange you to get the book yourself and tell me personally weather or not you thought it was funny and entertaining.

Wmunger7
Wmunger7

If you have a trilogy in mind, thou shalt just go ahead and tell that whole story in volume one.

MadMac
MadMac

"Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, Cain, Elizabeth Bathory and Elvis."

Elizabeth Bathory had a Gospel? GTFO.

Good stuff, Mr. WOF. I especially like the hair metal metaphor. H3ll, I'll give it a metaphive.  

skot
skot

Good stuff, Jef.  I better get on that vampire novel now that I have the checklist to success! 

confused
confused

word processor? Phone book? what are these things you speak of?

Jef With One F
Jef With One F

Agreed, though fantasy trilogies are a personal passion of mine.

Jef With One F
Jef With One F

Of the three on the list after the Gospels I'm puzzled that it was Bathory where you started to question. Thanks, though!

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