Let's Write: A Gothic Tale Part I
Recreating the Classic Gothic Horror ...
Every since Bela Lugosi donned his cape and the camera focused on those riveting, spine tingling eyes, viewers young and old have possessed a fascination for the macabre—namely vampires. We are both terrified and enthralled. From the vile and grotesque to the handsome and desirable, vampires (vamps) have stolen the hearts of both readers and viewers alike.
If you desire to write on this subject; don’t forget to do your research. This adds authenticity to even the most bizarre epic. Decide on whether you want your main character to be an antagonist or a protagonist. Will he or she be a fiend or friend? After determining the basis for your story—yes, you need to develop your outline.
You need to decide from what perspective your story will take and how the story will be introduced to your audience. Will it be from the vamps, victim or vamp slayer’s viewpoint? More than ever, your outline will be a necessary ingredient in the culmination of your “perfect paper.”
Decide who will be your audience. This is the general trend, but there are always exceptions. Youth, young adults and especially females are drawn to a super sexy vamp. This is how Bela Lugosi got his unique fame as Dracula. His portrayal was different from the previous ones of his era. He was the first sensual representation and is still known by many today as the best one.
Other audiences prefer the antagonistic approach with an Abraham Van Helsing protagonist doing battle with the blood-sucking parasite and coming out victorious. This version would resemble the Bram Stoker version. There are many versions in which to choose.
Once you have your reader preference, focus on developing your story’s unfolding. If you decide to tell your story from the perspective of a protagonist/antagonist—vamp as the unfortunate victim of an encounter with a bat—you can key in on the inward struggles between the humanistic versus the monster within.
During earlier times, people would tell stories about events that happened either to them or a member of their family. By using a journal/diary type method of conveying your story, it can be told from a subjective point of view. The narrator not only is an active participant in the drama but also gives the information to another so that others will benefit from the knowledge.
The choice of a more traditional rendition of the Gothic Tale with a slight deviation adds flair to your story. In the following example the protagonist, Walter Murdock is not only dealing with the antagonist, but with his own hidden secrets.
Read exerts from my story Journey After Dark.
I trust that you will find this journal both edifying and plausible. My name is Walter Murdock and I am sharing this account as told to me by a member of The Order. This story involves secrets that have been kept for epochs. It tells of an abhorrent and malevolent creature of darkness. It also involves a young man caught up in the impossible quest of fighting this creature while racing against his own dark enigmas. The story that follows may seem incredible, but it actually happened in the not so distant past. Read my account—if you dare!
November 4, 2020 in Professor Octavius Archimedes’ Study—
“Murdock, have you ever heard of The Sacred Order of the Phoenix; commonly referred to as The Order?” asks Professor Archimedes leaning on one arm.
“Do you mean the mythical bird—why professor?” Murdock asks conjuring up images of the firebird.
“Because I have something I want to share with you—something so bizarre that it could only have happened in a dream, but yet it is true.” The professor replies mysteriously.
“Ok, Professor now you really have my curiosity stirred!” Murdock says.
“I want much more than that, My lad. I need your full attention for what we are about to embark upon is an adventure of the imagination; the imagination steeped in reality! It started two centuries ago to this very date!” Professor Archimedes proclaims.
“What do you mean, professor?” Murdock asks.
“Let me explain to you about a secret society …” Professor Archimedes begins.
“The Countess of De Otero is the founder of this Secret Society. In the Fall of 1819, the Baroness Von Schreiber was on a hunting expedition with her brother the Baron. She is accidentally shot and mortally wounded. Near death she wanders upon a phoenix just at the time of its transformation. When the phoenix burst into flames, the Baroness throws herself upon the ashes. The Baroness resurrects becoming immortal. Not only does she possess the powers of the Phoenix but much more!
The Baroness now becomes the Countess of De Otero and has the ability to transcend both time and space by manipulating matter. She forms the Sacred Order of the Phoenix that consists of three disciples with conversion powers of the wolf, the jaguar or the falcon. This is achieved with the assistance of a small amulet—created from the special alloy titanium. The properties of the amulet make the wearer invincible against night stalkers; however this indestructibility comes at a horrific premium. The chosen one will eventually be consumed by the very animal he or she epitomizes. ”
The professor pauses to take a final small sip from a flask to his right; he then continues.
“There can only be the trio at any given time. Before the consummation is complete however, the present owner must bequeath the talisman to a new follower!”
“That’s an incredible story, professor.” Murdock says not knowing what to think.
"But there is much more to the story .... my dear Walter ... much more. Let me begin!"
Sunset, November 4, 1820 at Baron Von Schreiber’s Castle—
“Baron Von Schreiber, I was just wondering why I never see you during daylight hours?” Octavius asks.
“The reason why I only come out at night is because I hate the sunlight. With my fair complexion I would probably burn to a crisp.” The Baron tells Octavius with a smile that displays his large white canine teeth.
“I always rely on my faith in a Higher Power to get me through difficult situations.” Octavius says showing the Baron a glimpse of the small amulet he wears around his neck. The Baron flinches at the sight of titanium and gives Octavius a dangerous stare.
“Has your faith ever failed you?” The Baron says with a menacing look, as if attempting to borne into Octavius’ soul.
“It never has.” Octavius says with a look equally menacing. There is something in Octavius’ look that even gives the infamous Baron a chill.
“Where did you get that amulet?” The Baron probes not quite able to see the shape.
“Oh, do you mean this, Baron Von Schreiber?” Octavius replies again showing the necklace with the symbol of the wolf.
“The Wolf … yes, young Octavius where did you get that?” the Baron questions intriguingly.
“A lady friend gave it to me.” Octavius replies smiling.
“What’s her name?” The Baron continues to probe.
“The Countess of De Otero … Baron would you like to hold the amulet?” Octavius asks.
“No, I wouldn’t,” The Baron states and walks away murmuring something about The Order.
Later that night in Jillian’s Bedroom, Baron Von Schreiber’s Castle—
The Baron enters her room. Her sleeping form is like an intoxicant to the hungry red eyes of the vile creature of darkness. With catlike movements he walks forward with only one purpose in mind—to drink deeply from the fountain of her tender throat. The Baron is unaware that he is being observed by a silhouette hiding behind the velveteen curtains. It is Octavius and a full moon is just beginning to rise.
When Jillian turns in her sleep to face the balcony double doors; the light reflects a small object, one similar to Octavius’ around her neck. It is a miniature amulet in the shape of a falcon—bird of prey and enemy of the bat! Within moments, the Baron silently slips into the night. Then there is the minuscule flutter of wings. Octavius smiles—another potential victim is saved from the Baron’s evil influence.
However, Octavius wonders why the Baron changes his mind. He was expecting his first confrontation with the creature.
Octavius creeps closer to where Jillian lies sleeping and sees the amulets around her neck. “Jillian … could she be the one?” he asks silently still rejoicing in the knowledge that his altercation with the Baron has been temporarily postponed.
With a swiftness that mirrors the Baron, Octavius leaves the room to melt into the shadows before his transformation. The shrill cries of a wolf can be heard in the distance! As Jillian opens her eyes; a small smile appears on her face. She has also interpreted the Baron’s intentions.
Now when you thoroughly have your audience captivated; continue to develop your theme of "good vs evil." Investigate different techniques for the development of your modern day Gothic. This is why you outline and pre-write. If after you have started your story; you discover that you need to add a new element … then just do it.
Don’t turn your short story or novella into a frustrating project. Enjoy it—it is your creation! You can also continue this tale by reading Part II.