Over the weekend a friend brought up a fun anecdote. He told about an author asking his daughter, “How can you kill a vampire?” The daughter responded with what we all know. Stake to the heart, beheading, stick ’em in the stun, holy water, etc. etc. Which any good, self-respecting geek would say. The author responded to his daughter:
“You kill them however the *%&# you want to. It’s your story.”
I think that is something we forget as writers. The best example goes to Twilight. Nearly everyone you meet that hates the series will say the same thing. “Vampire don’t sparkle.” And as my friend said. Yes. Yes they do. In Stephanie Meyer’s story they sparkle.
Now of course we don’t have to like it. But what we can’t say is that a made up fantasy creature doesn’t act a certain way. Who says? Vampires are very well known. But how many of us can agree on what a Troll is? Or Hobgoblin, Orc(k), and Hippogriff?
This is where one of my favorite authors succeeds so well. Everyone should check out Jim Butcher’s work. He has been able to take familiar tropes concerning all your favorite lore, and turn it on its head. Weaving and spinning new ideas into creatures like Werewolves, Vampires, Zombies, and Fairies.
Stephanie Meyer attempted the same thing. We can argue that Butcher has done it better, but they essentially did the same thing. Of course we can argue that Butcher did this much better than Meyer, but that is not the point of this post.
The point is that we often, as SciFi/Fantasy authors, get caught up in the proper way to “kill a vampire.” When there isn’t a proper answer. Because anything you can think of will be the right way. It is your story. Don’t worry about how others will react to your solution to the problems that have already been solved. Who is to say you can’t come up with a more unique way to kill a vampire than from what has already been established?
That would be an interesting writing exercise. Reinterpret fantasy elements that have been done to death. How else can you do a vampire or werewolf. Stretch your mind and see what you come up with. It is something I’ve been doing with my YA book. Taking a look at standard magic tropes and tweaking them.
And who knows. Maybe my vampires will sparkle…
Pfftt, who am I kidding? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.