Writing Gothic Romance: 70's Romance to Current Trend
For quite some time the "Gothic" genre languished along with the bell bottoms, Holly Hobbit t-shirts and Bonney Bell lip gloss. "It's dead," everyone said. But with the success of such books as Twilight there is a whole new generation of a readers who are eating up dark, paranormal heroines with a good amount of pluckiness (and sometimes a good amount of denial) who are out there fighting the ghosts, vampires, werewolves, etc. etc. etc. and doing quite well in the market. I had a discussion on a Steampunk loop as to the huge appeal of that genre in the YA section, much more than the concentration in the adult market. I think the same can be said for Gothic.
When I read Twilight I loved the story to a point, but it took me awhile to figure out that what bothered me the most was the "I'll-follow-you-anywhere-despite-anything" attitude. I had very frank discussions about whether my daughter understood that giving up yourself completely for someone else was truly not in the best interest of anyone. But then, I remembered my love of the Kathryn Kimbrough novels. I'd lived through it. Though it probably didn't do much for choice of dating material. Still, it had instilled in me that love of a heroine willing to overcome her own adversity in order to save the world. I'm willing to bet that there are plenty of others with musty, old Gothics crowding the back of reader's shelves. And I willing to work at bringing one of my own to the front.
So, for the sake of argument or interest... here is a list that I borrowed from The Otherworld Diner on 13 Typical Ingredients of a Gothic Romance. Check it out and let me know what you think could or couldn't work in today's market.
1. The story unfolds in an eerie atmosphere, full of peril.
2. The setting is forbidding or haunted. Typical sites: A manor in the moors, an isolated ruin or a haunted castle.
3. Often, the writer’s voice is melancholy and in a minor key.
4. The writer and you as a reader expect bad things to happen to the heroine.
5. The story is shrouded in mystery, a past secret that the readers and the heroine must figure out.
6. The heroine enters the story as a victim, someone in the wrong place at the wrong time.
7. Even though the heroine is a victim, she has the potential to unearth the past secrets.
8. The heroine is resourceful and -- even if she doubts it -- she possesses an inner strength equal to the threatening situation she’s thrown into.
9. The hero, usually the master of the menacing dwelling, appears to be sinister, at least at the story’s start.
10. The hero almost always knows about the unfortunate past.
11. As the heroine uncovers the mystery, she enters into a relationship with the hero.
12. If there are two love interests in the story, one will turn out to be the villain.
13. Often the heroine is a virgin. Usually the main characters are so busy solving the mystery and surviving they have little time for intimacy.
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