Genre Writing – Gothic Fiction.

Recently I have been questioning what my chosen genres as a writer really are.  Then I experienced my ‘light bulb’ moment and wondered why I had not thought of it before.  I was about ten years old when I discovered Anya Seton’s Dragonwyck.  That book really reeled me in and I’ve read it many times since and it inspired me to read more within the genre of gothic fiction.

Gothic fiction combines both horror (psychological and/or physical) and romance.  There is a heavy emphasis on atmosphere in order to help build suspense.  Gothic fiction usually deals with past eras, using medieval settings or in more modern times Victorian England and pre Civil War Southern United States.

Gothic elements usually include some of the following:

  • Medieval setting, usually in a castle or 19th century mansion
  • An atmosphere of mystery and suspense
  • Supernatural or other inexplicable events, which can include ghosts, werewolves and monsters
  • Women in distress
  • An ancient prophecy, omens , visions, dark secrets
  • A tyrannical male, villains and Byronic heroes
  • Mad characters
  • Romance

Stories that are considered gothic fiction include The Mysteries of Udolpho, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Rebecca and of-course Edgar Allan Poe.  Some of the works by Charles Dickens and Stephen King are considered to be that of gothic fiction.  And who could forget Jane Austen’s take on it all in Northanger Abbey?

What I love about gothic fiction is that it combines horror, suspense, mystery/crime, the supernatural, history and romance – all genres I enjoy reading; it all fits under one big umbrella.  So that’s who I am – a writer of gothic fiction.

Do you enjoy gothic fiction?  Do you have a favourite?  If you’re a writer, have you experienced a ‘light bulb’ moment in your chosen genre/s?

Free image by Simon Howden courtesy of

2 thoughts on “Genre Writing – Gothic Fiction.

  1. I love gothic fiction – if it’s good. If it has all the elements of a classic gothic story such as fear, obscurity, darkness, etc., I will read it over and over. I’ve tried my hand at fear and horror on my own blog but I have a long way to go to be a good gothic fiction writer. When I realized I love gothic and the reason why – because it shows the other side of darkness- I started trying to write it myself. But I realized I needed to study up on what gothic really means so I bought several books about gothic literature. It feels like they’ve challenged me to keep trying!!

    1. Debbie Johansson 26/07/2012 — 2:11 am

      Hi E. I would have to agree – good gothic fiction for me has to have all the elements. When I think of my first attempt at writing one, I know I have to do some major re-writing. Perhaps I got carried away with my story without realising I didn’t include (or continue) with some vital elements of writing a gothic novel. Lesson learned the hard way! Best of luck with your own writing endeavours! 🙂

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