Series Writing Tips – Episode Gothic Stories
It’s October, and what would be of October without a good Hocus Pocus story? Thinking about it, we prepared a special post to talk about writing Gothic stories.
Firstly, what is Gothic? When we think of Gothic Art, we might think of those very tall cathedrals, like the Cathedral de Notre-Dame in Paris. In literature, the Gothic style became very popular in the eighteenth century. One of the first examples of this type of literature is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), which we already discussed in our blog.
A classic feature of this style is hybrid creatures like werewolves and vampires, who usually try to catch an innocent woman locked alone in a castle or a bizarre old house.
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There are four major elements of any Gothic horror story that you must think of when writing your piece. They are fear, revulsion, surprise, and terror.
Fear. Fear is a must – you must fear for the characters in a horror story. This is also one of the hardest things to do. Firstly, people are not so easily scared anymore. When building tension, you must think of things that might really affect your readers. If you’ve read Stephen King’s novels, you can see he is skilled in making people scared. It (1986), for instance, made lots of people afraid of clowns.
Revulsion. Making people feel disgusted is usually what authors also go for when writing a Gothic horror story. The rule for every sensory scene (those types of scenes you want the reader to feel what the character is feeling) is to be very descriptive and the old rule “show, not tell.”
Surprise. Most people fear the unknown, so introducing surprise in your plot can be an excellent way to make your readers afraid.
Terror. Sometimes, authors can combine the three above elements and create real terror. It is tough, but not impossible. Some people are terrified of ghosts, and if your ghost story is really good, they will feel frightened. A good well-constructed plot, full of surprises, can do that too.
And, of course, you should always have a good plot, something that grabs people’s attention from the beginning. Relatable and exciting characters that will make the reader fear their imminent death. And, of course, plot twists and cliffhangers to make the reader want more!
Who feels like writing a Gothic horror story tonight?
See too: 5 reasons to start your book club