Sunday, April 29, 2007

Notes on writing Vampire romances from Romantic Times conference

I participated in several panels at Romantic Times, and wrote handouts for them. Since the conference is over, I thought I'd share them here. Here's my notes on “But Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" That was a panel dealing with the question of whether there's a vampire fiction glut. Hope you find it interesting!

By the way, my book PASSIONATE INK, A GUIDE TO WRITING EROTIC ROMANCE is available from Amazon. Check it out.

1.) There are an awful lot of vampires novels out on the shelves, and you’re right to be concerned about the question of whether there’s a glut. Remember it’s going to take at least six months to write your book, and then more months to get it into the hands of an editor who may buy it. Then another year after that for the book to hit the stores. The craze may have passed by then.
A.) However, editors are still acquiring vampire and paranormal romance, so there’s still a window of opportunity. The question is, how do you make your book stand out?

2.) First, make sure you really want to write a vampire romance. Never mind whether it’s hot or not, since it may not be hot by the time you get it published. Do you absolutely love vampires and vampire romances? If not, find something else to write about, something you DO love. A passion for the idea is the key to making a book memorable.

3.) Think about how you can make your vampire novel different.
A.) What is the one thing about vampires that is key to the concept? It’s not coffins or a fear of crosses, because you can get rid of those things and still have a perfectly good vampire novel.
i). A vampire must feed on something another person has in order to sustain his life. It doesn’t have to be blood. It could be psychic energy or sex or chi or dreams. But he feeds on something, and that’s the one thing about vampires you have to keep. The rest you can change – and should change, if you want to make the book fresh and different.
B.) Think through how this idea works. Why does the hero need to do this? How did he become a vampire? Maybe he’s not 400 years old – maybe he’s only been a vampire a week, and he’s got to figure out how to survive.
C.) What is his weakness? The more powerful the character is, the more he needs a weakness. Classical vampires have a lot of weaknesses – garlic, crosses, mirrors, running water, etc. You must come up with a paranormal weakness that puts your guy in danger. Otherwise the reader is not going to worry about his safety, and if she’s not worried, she’s going to get bored.

4.) Think about your mortal character, whether hero or heroine. What does he or she want? Why would he or she have anything to do with your vampire? What is it about your vampire that he or she can fall in love with?
A.) Your mortal must be more than a match for your vampire on some level – while looking as if he or she is vulnerable. If all the power is with your vampire, you don’t have a good conflict, and without a good conflict, you’ve got no story.

5.) In a vampire romance as in every other kind, you need an internal conflict, an external conflict, and a romantic conflict.
A) The internal conflict is the thing inside the character that he or she is struggling with. In the TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel the vampire struggled with guilt over the crimes he committed as the demonic Angelus.
B.) The external conflict is what’s going on outside the character that is threatening him physically – usually caused by the villain who wants to kill him.
C.) The romantic conflict is the thing that is keeping the hero and heroine from their happy ending. It must be powerful enough that the reader has no idea how you’re going to resolve it.
D. All these conflicts intensify as the book goes on, growing worse and worse to make the reader more fearful for your hero and heroine. Keep complicating things!

6.) Remember than in a romance, love makes your characters’ lives more difficult, not less. It’s only in the climax that love enables the hero and heroine to overcome their internal and romantic conflicts. Whatever they learn in the process allows them to overcome the external conflict with the villain – and get to that all important Happily Ever After.

For more, check out Passionate Ink: A Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Angela Knight, ISBN-10: 1596323906 or ISBN-13: 978-1596323902. Angela’s website is


Jenna Leigh said...

Loved this!
I've done one vamp romance. Matthias was a single vampire daddy and he did feed on blood, including Erin the heroine's. But I made mine high camp. I loved my two characters so much. I don't know if I could do a serious one though. Love to read 'em but I still have some issues with writing them because of the fangbangers of old ala Stephen King's Salem's Lot. Gack!
I think I'll stick to writing werewolves. They're hotblooded hotties.

Kat said...

That was really interesting - thank you for posting it :)

I really like all the vampire and para romances out now. Each one is different and they don't have to play by rules that contemps and historicals do. The ability for authors to do just about anything with these stories makes each of them different, exciting, and a lot of fun to read.

Kristen Painter said...

After seeing you at RT, I just had to stop by and tell you how FABULOUS you look! Go you!

Julia Templeton said...

Excellent post, Angela.
Gives me food for thought as I work on my next vampire romance.

Anonymous said...

I am a huge fan of yours. I really enjoyed meeting you some months ago at the sisters in crime meeting in Greenville. Thank you for the lessons that you have provided, they have really helped me a lot in my writing. -Dia

Angela Knight said...

Hey, thank you! That means a lot. :)