Friday, November 4, 2011

Why I hate Bram Stoker's "Dracula"

Hate is such a strong word, but it grabs your attention.  I could've said dislike or any number of words taken from the thesaurus.  The one that I chose was hate.

Why, in the world, would I hate (or dislike or am hostile towards or resentful or about three dozen other words Roget's recommends that don't have quite the punch hate does) such a classic as Bram Stoker's Dracula?

Simple.  The ending sucked.

There you go again with the strong words, Mark.  Did it really "suck" that bad?

Let me clarify: Dracula is beautifully-written, from varying journal entries and letters, gaining multiple viewpoints of this frightening tale.  Much is built on setting up this elusive monster, one that slithers through the forever night, sucking blood and transforming victims into his minions.  Even the race back to Transylvania, with Van Helsing on his heels, is a nail-biting thrill-ride.  And how does Mr. Stoker end this masterful tale?  (Spoiler-alert: if you've never read this tale and intend to do so, STOP READING RIGHT NOW . . . okay, the rest of you can march forward with me)  The death of Dracula is reduced to a few sentences that ended so quick, I had to backtrack to find out what in the hell happened.  When I read again how Dracula's death was brought out, I nearly threw the book in the garbage.  But I didn't.  I plowed through to the end, resentful of Stroker's cop-out for a dramatic ending.

This is advice for mostly horror writers, and possibly thriller writers too.  When you've created such a dangerous creature and, in the end, that creature dies (or is captured), make that as explosive and dramatic as possible.  Your readers will thank you for it, for joining you on the journey you created for them.  What if George Lucas, when he created Star Wars, decided to not blow up the Death Star but simply have it slowly disintegrate?  Star Wars never would've been such a spectacular hit that it was.  For your endings, make them worth it.  Your reader just spent hours and hours and hours on end, following your tale.  End it right.  Don't cop-out like Stoker did.

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