Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula was published in 1897, thus beginning our love affair with literary, and eventually cinematic, vampires. It’s a good thing Bram’s book was the first of its kind published because his vision of undead bloodsuckers was much, much different from today’s modern demons.
In fact, if Bram Stoker tried to submit the original Dracula manuscript for publication today, I fear the following would be his editor’s response:
October 5, 2014
Dear Mr. Stoker,
Thank you for submitting your work to my office. When I saw the subject, I couldn’t wait to dig into your novel as there is nothing I enjoy more than a good vampire story. Plus, they tend to lend themselves to so many great marketing tie-ins and additional media deals.
As I began your narrative, however, I was struck by the darkness and gloom oozing from each page. I suppose you were trying to do something different with your tale, but I’m afraid it just doesn’t work. Your Dracula is far too serious and depressing to be a credible leading vampire. Perhaps with some additional research, you would have realized all vampires are very wealthy, live in elaborately decorated homes, and have no problem finding first class transportation. However, your vampire makes do in a dilapidated castle and travels by sneaking aboard a run-down Russian freight boat.
Even more horrifying is you have him sleep in the dirt. The dirt! The constant layer of dirt and grime that must coat his skin due to this unsanitary sleeping habit prevents Dracula from sparkling in the sunlight. You are missing a wonderful opportunity by not having at least one sunburst available to this poor man while his pores are dirt-free. Let him show his softer, more dazzling side! Sun-induced-glitter-skin is one of the most sought features of any vampire, and is a can’t-miss element of character development in this genre.
I was particularly disappointed you took the liberty of making Dracula such a hideously ugly character. Everyone knows, at least I thought everyone knew, all vampires are beautiful. There is no such thing as a homely vamp, and I just don’t see Dracula with his pointed ears and beady-fire eyes as remotely believable. Also, you’ve made him an older gentleman. I’m guessing he was in at least his late 50’s or early 60’s when he was turned, which again, goes against the vampire code. Vampires are made at the height of their attractiveness and sexual prowess, and trust me when I say to you, Mr. Stoker, a man that age is at neither. Perhaps this lack of virility is why it takes so long for Dracula to turn his victims into vampires. He has to bite them repeatedly in order to get any sort of supernatural action, whereas leading vampires who are much younger and potent are able to turn a victim immediately, and often have multiple victims in one night.
Because of these fatal roadblocks with the main character, I am afraid we cannot extend an offer to work with you at this time. If you are willing to rework your piece—freshen up Dracula, turn him into a sexier, eastern European bad boy (I’m thinking a cross between Colin Ferrell and Liam Neeson)—I would gladly take a second look. Another suggestion is completely changing the location of the story. Transylvania, and Europe in general, is very 1992 for this genre. I would suggest setting the story in the American South. In fact, there is a Transylvania University in Lexington, KY. A fraternity vampire named “Drac” (now I’m thinking of a cross between Colin Ferrell and Zac Efron) attending Transy is a much better choice than an ugly, old man with bad ears who lives in a castle.
Oh, and you also may want to consider adding the additional element of either a fairy or a werewolf. Readers today love fairies and werewolves.