Control: Horror Tropes and Writing…
I, Dalton Lewis, am writing what I want to be a horror masterpiece called Modern Goth. It redefines the horror genre and brings the concept of goth into the contemporary era, the 21st century. I want to include a number of traditional tropes and yet tweak them to include more dramatic moments and stronger characters than traditional horror stories.
The first trope is the slasher killer. I start out my book with such a killer attacking some people. Having someone threatening to kill the characters develops tension in the story and builds the bond between the good guys as they deal with this common threat. I also wanted to have someone in this role be evil, but I wanted a wrinkle: someone else blamed for the murders, a black man. I thought that this wrinkle would tie in to the current social and political climate and show something which inevitably happens and makes people mad. This deepens the story and adds tension.
I also developed a character who is an unhappy young man — down on his luck and without any friends. I wanted a very miserable young person — convinced that everything has gone bad and will go bad. The reader can then view the story from the perspective of this character as he starts to learn about the goth society and its culture. Having such a down-on-his-luck protagonist can really help stories in the genres — horror being one of those genres. I wanted to slowly build him up and watch him grow into an intelligent, proper young gentleman. I thought that this was a reasonable arc for the character.
The second villain trope was being trapped in a scary or haunted area with some supernatural problem or situation. This is from a short that I wrote fifteen or more years ago called Modern Goth. In it an inventor, Robert Lawrence, is trapped in his mansion. Increasingly terrible things happen at his mansion, and terrifying creatures appear to menace him. Things get complicated then — as I didn’t want a simple story of a good person being hunted by monsters. I wanted sympathetic villains. I hoped to send the story into a more interesting direction than the typical needing to exorcise the house conclusion.
The second character to develop, the black inventor, was supposed to be a smart, dynamic character who is driven to save lives and hates that he can’t save more people from cancer. He is a quiet intellectual who finds himself confronted by the worst of life — and challenged by people who are very physical. That contrast — the intellectual inventor facing the strong and physically imposing poor people — was a contrast of personalities that interested me. That moved that part of the story.
The third villain trope I wanted to introduce was the haunting — ghosts are a traditional trope of horror stories, something that I wanted to introduce and use as a foil for my other character, Annie. Annie wanted to make it in Hollywood very, very badly but left to go back to Illinois at twenty-five after a bad three years in Hollywood. I wanted her to be haunted by other people who failed at what they wanted to do in life. I wanted to show that people sometimes don’t make it in life, and they hate themselves and the rest of us when they don’t get everything in life.
I wanted to contrast that with Annie finding success as the lead singer of a goth band called Modern Goth. Those people who failed — who died young — hate and resent the people who make it in a goth band, and I wanted a dramatic conflict between them. I didn’t want them to just try to rape and kill Annie because I didn’t want them to be cartoonish monsters. We had enough of that with the high schoolers in the story. No, I wanted the ghosts to be troubled and scared people who didn’t know what to do and lashed out in fear and anger.
I wanted to combine those elements into a novel about the concept of goth and gothic literature — a movement which has been around for several hundred years at least. I thought that this would help to show the various contrasting ideologies that are found within the goth subgenre. I wanted to explore those, and I feel that I have done so.
Thanks, and take care, friends.