Writing a Gothic Short Story



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Writing a Gothic Short Story

After reading "The Black Cat" write your own story of the gothic. Be as creative as you like, and choose your subject freely. Keep in mind some of the conventions of the gothic as you write.
Your story has no maximum or minimum length. Make the story long enough to tell what you want to tell. Include dialogue when you wish. Conform to the rules of dialogue writing, however. Be sure to turn in a clean copy, double-spaced, typed in 12point font, Times New Roman or other easily readable font. Include page numbers, a creative title and your name. Illustrations are not necessary, but can be added if you wish.
Conventions of Gothic Writing (suggestions, not requirements!)
Setting -- ancestral family house (mansion/castle, secret passageways, lots of rooms), old abbey (with crypt/cemetery) or other "ruin."

Plot Shape -- based upon a hidden crime, a character "crosses a forbidden border" or mixes things up in a way that are taboo.

Source of terror -- Haunting figures (supernatural or psychological or both), out of a buried past that brings back ideas others want to suppress or repress. Sometime the haunting figure is a "doppelganger." (an apparition or double of a living person -- e.g. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)

Hero/heroine -- usually a young man (but could be a woman) who could potentially be evil or destructive, but who usually turns out to be good. Heroines are often the protagonists in gothic texts.

Villain -- frequently a father figure intent on upholding property and standards of family (and concealing the secrets of the past) -- sometimes a religious figure or a Satanic figure from an "alien" race (like Dracula).


Style of narration -- sometimes hyperbolic or overly dramatic. Often about the difficulty and challenge in getting the story told due to secret documents, missing links, or stories within stories (like flashbacks).
Other ideas and hints about writing gothic stories


  • The supernatural is permitted, but not required in the gothic.







  • Gothic often presents a confusion of good and evil.




  • Gothic literature can tell the story of those who are oppressed or rejected, and it also explores frontiers (between races, genders, classes, people and machines, health and disease, living and dead, and the boundary of the closed door.

Source, American Gothic: An Anthology 1787-1916




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