Vampires: How to Avoid a Sucky Story


Anonymous asked:

i just started following so i don’t know if this has been covered or not but vampires? please and thianks :)

Ah, vampires!  When it comes to writing, that’s a subject that’s super difficult to sink your teeth into.  *gets shot in the nose for such terrible punmenship*

Anyway, all jokes aside, this is a topic that’s been tried and tried again and pounded into the dirt by the beefy champions of cliché.  Vampires have drifted into the group dubbed “commercial literature”, which is great if you’re only out to make money, but not so great if you’re really looking to tell a good story.

It is, however, possible to tell a fantastic story, even with vampires!  It’s just a little tricky.  Here’s some guidelines to get you started:

Don’t focus so much on the mystical aspect of being a vampire.

Too many vampire stories make the conflict quite literally: “EGADS!  I CANNOT LIVE, FOR I AM A CREATURE OF THE NIGHT!” Yes, being a vampire can be inconvenient, but it doesn’t always have to be filled with angsty darkness because of the character’s condition.  A good way to make your character deeper than their paranormal self is to chart them out as a human, first.  What are their likes?  Their dislikes?  What are they scared of (that doesn’t have to do with the authorities wanting to shove a wooden stake through their hearts)?  Do they have a pet?  Family?  Even little things like their favorite color help develop them.  (For more character development exercises, we have a post here)  After that, add the fangs—but still remember that (in most cases) they’re still partially human.  Which leads us to our next point…

Bond human struggles with vampire-based struggles.

What would it be like to get braces fastened on vampire fangs?  For a bloodsucker to sponsor a blood drive to win a scholarship?  To have your character dress up as Batman for Halloween, just to hide the fact that they still can’t control their transfiguration yet?  Adding vampire quirks or even conflicts to everyday human issues makes your character more relatable as well as more unique.  You can even incorporate their “condition” into their job (bat tender at the zoo, cavern tour guide) or even their relationships (can you imagine a vampire father calming his adopted human daughter when she gets blood drawn?) Decide whether you want your character to be more of a monster or more of a human, but beware.  Making your character a creature uncontrollably ravenous for food and psychopathic at the sight of a blood cell can get a bit unrealistic if you’re not very careful.  After all, if you are going the human route, nobody gets that crazy and desperate about what they eat…unless it’s me with chicken wings.

Avoid the cliché!!!!

Most vampire, as well as many other supernatural stories, get swallowed by the flames of literary hell because of this.  Many of these clichés lie in folklore-based stereotypes, such as:

  • Burning in the sunlight
  • Being vulnerable to garlic
  • Being immortal
  • Super duper extreme hunger for blood
  • Superhuman abilities
  • Wooden stake through the heart (but as Dracula said in Hotel Transylvania, who wouldn’t that kill?)

Some common cliches that don’t have to do with folklore basically lie in the dark, brooding attitude of many vampire characters, or the entire idea of “don’t come near me, I’m a monster! *dramatic face shield*” Don’t worry, though!  You can still include some of these traits!  Just try and twist them so they’re unique, in ways they’ve never been done before!  Many writers of vampire-themed literature, including Stephanie Meyer, have tried to do this—and some have succeeded.  However, so, so many vampire stories have one fatal flaw, which leads us to our final point…

Never neglect the rest of your plot just for the vampire storyline!

Yes, I understand the story may actually be about how tough it is to be a vampire.  And that’s ok!  But if your vampire’s saving the world or falling in love on the side, you can have the most interesting, non-cliché character on the planet, and it won’t matter.  Why?  Because you’ll still have a flat story overall.  Brush up on rules of avoiding cliché in plots overall—romance is an especially hard one—and eventually, you’ll be able to juggle both your bloodsucking baby and everything else going on in the world around them.

Above all, make sure whatever you write, it’s for you.  The major error in vampire-themed commercial literature is that they write vampires only because they’ll sell, not because it’s what their heart is set on.  If this is really what you want to write, then by all means, do it!  And during the process, don’t let people dictate what your character(s) should or shouldn’t do and have in their lives.  Don’t be afraid to fail, either!  Stories like this have been tainted and even teased a lot in society, which makes it hard to break through the barriers that the bookstores have built.  But eventually, you can do it, if you try again and again.

 Lastly, don’t be afraid to take risks!  Vampire or none, this is your story.

Don’t let it drive you batty.

(Oh, and by the way, welcome to thepunspointofview thepenspointofview)



Historically red seals were used to mean “matters of business”. Different colors of wax were used for different forms of correspondence (black for the announcement of a death, for example). Now cinema generally portrays red as the sole seal color.


Historically red seals were used to mean “matters of business”. Different colors of wax were used for different forms of correspondence (black for the announcement of a death, for example). Now cinema generally portrays red as the sole seal color.

I'm in the process of fleshing out an underground community and was wondering if you knew of any resources on the problems living underground would present. I assume things like air quality, vitamin d deficiency, growing food, dangerous gases, high temperatures and the like would be an issue, but I'm having trouble finding specific information on it!


I think the best resource on living without sunlight would be this answer by Clevergirlhelps. It’s pretty comprehensive about what kind of thing you can expect people to go through. 

There are a lot of different kinds of ‘underground’, and I think it’s important to create a distinction between natural underground and man-made underground. 

When it comes to living in natural underground formations like caves, there’s actually more chance that a society could do quite well in the right circumstances. Doing a little research on the dangers of caving should give you an idea of the risks, and looking at the natural resources inside caves will give you a decent overview of where your society would find morsels of food, water and light. 

The underground that we make is very different; there are no natural resources and most of the light sources are artificial. Here are a few articles to get you started:

1. The Effects of Artificial Light on Humans

2. The Effects of Poor Indoor Air Quality

3. Vegetables That Grow in the Dark

4. Indoor Humidity Health Effects

5. Social Isolation

6. Life Without Nature

7. Human Societies and Hierarchical Groups

8. Humans Around Open Sewage

9. Contaminated Water

You’ll want to look into such things as ventilation systems, dehydration, slow starvation and quirky ways of overcoming these problems. 

All in all, we weren’t meant to live underground, and it’s a last resort for us as creatures who need the sun. Being underground for prolonged periods, especially if one can’t get out, will become stressful for just about everybody. 

If your society can get out but need to stay underground for safety, going outside would become a coveted and important resource. It’s likely that we’d still grow food outside and try to get as much sunlight as we could if we had access to the outdoors. 

You’re looking at a mess of the above effects on the human mind and body. Your characters will be struggling with all of these issues and trying to find ways to overcome them. 

… I wish them luck. 


Any tips on creating Alien cultures?


I could write a whole book on this, but I’m going to boil it down to the good stuff.

  • It Will Not Be Earth-like. Your aliens may have different sexes (like this yeast, which has A and Alpha sexes) or the same sexes, it doesn’t matter: their ideas of gender and gender identity are going to be radically different than Earth’s. Your aliens will definitely have a different form of organization that will not be male + female + offspring. They may have a similar economic system, but I doubt it. Their objects will be completely different because they will have developed for a species without the five fingers-short palm-opposable thumb configuration we enjoy. Don’t limit yourself to variations on Earth cultures. Go wild! 
  • Variation. Many sci-fi worlds think totally the same, whether they’re all pointy-eared logicians or sluggish crime lords. We have much variation in our world and there’s no reason an alien world wouldn’t have the same. In creating an alien “culture”, keep in mind it should only apply to a part of alien culture as a whole. (Aliens also tend to look the same, when there are often variations among a species. More of a worldbuilding question, but you should consider phenotypic variation.)
  • What do they value? This is one of the most important questions in worldbuilding. You can literally create a whole culture around what people value. Money? America. Peace? Hippie movement. Themselves? Romanticism. Homoerotic subtext? Tumblr. So ask yourself what is most valuable to these aliens. That is what will receive precedence in their thoughts, politics, goals, economy, everything. That is what will shape and define them the most. I like starting with this question because then other considerations are easy: just focus them on letting beings achieve their value or values.
  • There’s hella variables. Hella = a lot more than you think. I did a huge post on worldbuilding questions here. It’s probably two hundred questions long and I don’t think I covered everything. A post like that is probably more involved than you want it to be, so just answer these questions: What do they value? What do they believe in? How do they wage war (doesn’t need to be violent)? What forms (romantic, familial, platonic, other) of attachment are there? What is forbidden and why? What is their art like? What is their economy like? What - if any - government do they have? What is the biggest crime one can commit? What is the greatest act one can commit?

Do you have any information on art for book/pdf covers? Sort of like the dos and don'ts of cover art?


When is the best time to start revising a manuscript? Largely, usually, most of the time, after the last word of the story has been typed or written. Some writers need to edit as they write, and as long as it isn’t inhibiting actual progress of the word count, this is…

Dear internet,






Please give me all the advice you have on writing cover letters. Like, the closer you can get to literally just writing a cover letter for me, the better. Ok bye.

This is how I did the one for my librarian position.  I hope it helps.

Dear Person Hiring for this Job,

I am writing to ask you to consider me for X position.  This is a paragraph about why I want to do X position in general.  It includes at least one personal detail and at least one job skill I consider a particular strength.  It argues that I am passionate about this career.  It is not long.

I have had the opportunity to gain experience in this job by - paragraph about my work or study experience.  It should go from most recent experience back.  Include some details about your responsibilities/achievements in your most recent or most important positions.  If you have mostly study experience, give more detail about what exactly you studied.  If you shadowed people, mention that.  If your work experience is largely unrelated, try to shoehorn some of it in (e.g. I gained experience working with people by).  You can supplement with relevant hobbies.  (But if you do have recent, relevant work experience, you should largely be detailing that.  Only embroider the other stuff if you need to flesh it out.)  This should be the longest paragraph.

I hope you will consider allowing me to do X thing at your company.  This is a few sentences about why I want to work at your company in particular and what I think I could bring.  Try to mention at least one detail from the company website, so they know you visited it.  This is a short paragraph that parallels the first one.

Thank you very much for your time and attention.


Person You Would Be a Fool Not to At Least Interview

oh my god thank you this is relevant to current interests

Two other points, to challenge what’s being said above a little:

1) Remember that the person reading this cover letter wants to know how you can contribute to the company. Not how excited you are about the position: it’s all about what they gain. Try framing the whole thing in that sense — “You would gain my X awesome skill that would help you Y with your mission.” “Here’s why I’m awesome and a great fit for making your company go better.”

2) At the end, ask for the interview. “I am available at PHONE NUMBER at your convenience. I look forward to speaking with you about this great opportunity soon.” Maybe even say you’ll be following up at a specific time and date. Ask for the job. People respond to that, and it’s a good way to fake confidence until you make it. Ask for the job.

Okay, three points. People reading cover letters get SO BORED going through them. Think about starting off with a story that relates to why you’re interested in the job, or that demonstrates a skill or a strong interest that would make you a good candidate. Be memorable — people remember stories, even (maybe especially) very little ones.

*hoards advice*

Okay So what if a culture doesn't have a written language What would be some effects of that, do you suppose? Please and thanks


In societies without written language, people rely on oral stories to carry their history, laws, and culture in general. Here are some characteristics:

  • Reliance on Elders: The oldest people in this society hold the most history, and so they are important. They are the ones who pass down the history of this society. Storytellers, whether they are elders or not, will also be important if oral history is important to this culture.
  • Travel: There will be no signs telling people where to go and if there are maps, they will consists of landmarks to show the way. People will have to rely on nature and memory to know where they are going and how to get there.
  • Law: Because nothing is written down, laws are subject to easy change. This change falls to whoever is in power. Word also becomes law, depending on the culture. If they have a concept of legal contracts, they will have to be settled orally and a witness will probably have to hear people agree to say that the contract was sealed since there is no signature to prove it.
  • Symbols: While there is no written language, there may be symbols. These symbols can be anything from a sigil to hairstyles to the colors they wear. These symbols can tell stories about the past as well. They can also use pictures to record history.
  • History: Oral cultures still have knowledge of their history, which makes up most of their stories. However, most oral cultures do not let just anyone tell these histories. They have to be accurate and told carefully. However, there are small changes each time the story is told. The “big picture” of the story most likely stays the same throughout generations and some small details can as well. In the words of Tia Dalma: Same story, different versions, and all are true.

I'm trying to come up with a racial slur to use in a fantasy novel. There's a race of forest-dwelling elves that other elves look down upon because of their "savage" nature. Right now, I'm just using the term "woodland scum", but I feel like it doesn't have the same presence as other fictional slurs such as "mudblood" (HP) or "bastard" (ASoIaF). Any tips? Thanks :)


"Bastard" is not a fictional word. Here is a short post on creating fictional slurs. Here are some things slurs may be based on:

  • The correct name for a group of people
  • Appearance
  • Descent
  • Behavior/Lifestyle
  • Words that once had other meanings
  • Other traits that may not exist in our world