Monday, February 20, 2023

How to Give your Writing the Gothic Touch

 How to Give your Writing the Gothic Touch

(or: 13 Ways to Give your Fiction the Gothic Touch)

By Rayne Hall

Gothic sells. Reader demand and book sales for this genre are growing. From a writer’s perspective, the best thing about Gothic is that it combines well with other genres, so you can layer it with the kind of fiction you love to write to create, for example, Gothic Paranormal Romance, Gothic Urban Fantasy or Gothic Cosy Mystery.

Here are thirteen suggestions how you can give your manuscript the Gothic touch. Choose the ones which suit your plot.

1.    Let the story unfold in a sublime, ‘wild’ location, preferably isolated, windswept, battered by the elements: a farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors, a research station in the Antarctic, a castle in the Scottish Highlands, a chalet in the Swiss Alps.


2.    Put the characters in an old, dilapidated, gloomy building, whether that’s a private residence, a hotel or a castle. Perhaps it was once a fabulous mansion, but now only remnants remain of its former glory. Show the cracks in the façade, peeling paint, faded curtains, frayed carpets, leaking roof. Let the readers hear the squeal of the unoiled hinges and the creaking of the wooden stairs.


3.    Isolate the main character. She (or he) has no friends nearby, no one to turn to for help. Perhaps she’s a stranger in the community, a foreigner in the country, a new recruit to the job. The location is remote, far away from public transport, without phone or internet reach.


4.    Give your characters dark secrets. Often, this includes a crime – already committed, underway or planned. Even the main character carries a guilt she hides from others.


5.    Motivate your characters with passions and obsessions. Let them be passionate about whatever they try to do. Is the MC passionate about clearing her late father’s name, bringing human traffickers to justice or saving the endangered moorland? Other characters have their passions, too – some of them benign, others dangerous.


6.    Create plot twists around loyalty and betrayal. Whom does the MC trust, only to discover that this person betrayed her? Whom does she suspect, realising belatedly that he is on her side?


7.    A connection exists between the present and the past, or between this world and the supernatural. This could be through a prophecy, séance, a curse, a reincarnation or a haunting.


8.    Madness infuses the plot. A character may be criminally insane, or simply suffering from a mental health problem such as paranoia or schizophrenia which affects her judgement. Maybe the MC herself is a veteran afflicted with PTSD, or perhaps the villain is gaslighting her until she believes she is going insane.


9.    An old book, document or work of art gets discovered, and it contains a clue which changes the direction of the plot. This could be an old journal, a treasure map, or a painting of the baron’s real wife.


10. The MC discovers a secret room – perhaps a concealed passage, a hard-to-access attic, an underground dungeon or the scientist’s laboratory which she has been forbidden to enter.


11. One of the scenes takes place at dusk. Show how the setting sun bloodies the horizon or streaks the sky in purple and pink before darkness descends. Let the readers hear the twilight chorus of the birds and feel how the temperature drops.


12. Whip up a storm. This could be an icy, sleet-laden winter wind, a thunderstorm with blinding bolts of lighting, a hurricane or a squall at sea. Let readers hear the wind whining in the chimney and rattle the shutters.


13.  Let the novel’s climax unfold against a dramatic backdrop. The house burns, the cruise ship sinks, the tower collapses, the dam bursts, or a tsunami sweeps the settlement away,


Have you already written fiction with Gothic elements?  Which of these thirteen suggestions would be a good fit for the novel you’re currently working on?

Tell us about it in the comments below. 

Monday, February 13, 2023

Naming Your Characters


 To quote the bard: What’s in a name?

For a writer, just about everything.

Once the germ of an idea has sprouted on a story, I can’t settle to writing it until I have a title. Silly I know, but it’s beyond me. The same with naming my characters. I might have an idea on the characters’ makeup and values and even what they look like but until they are named, it’s an itch that can’t be scratched. Secondary characters are easy, I usually christen them with whatever names pop into my head at the time. But the protagonist. That’s another matter.  The name must reflect the character. Is he tough? Is he charming? Is she tough? Is she charming?

And the last name must be every bit as appealing as the first. 


Which leads to the next question. Where do you find your names? I go through lists of names online and also watch the credits during movies. A great thing about list names online is that you can drill down for your particular genre: old-fashioned names, bible names, popular names, rare names, meanings of names, etc.

One of the best names I’ve read in a novel is Cuss Abbott, a Sci-Fi about an interplanetary marshal by Doug Cooper. The name definitely fits the character.

And did you know Ian Fleming, looking for a simple masculine moniker, bequeathed the name of James Bond on his character after taking note of the name of James Bond the ornithologist. (Fleming himself was a birder.)

Some secondary characters are named for folks that have entered a drawing or won a contest.  Some are named for friends or loved ones. Or some that aren’t friends or loved ones😊

Anyway you slice it, names are important. Where do yours come from?





Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Strategies for Coping as a Writer by Jessica Majewski

Imposter syndrome is a common experience among writers, characterized by feelings of self-doubt and insecurity about one's abilities. This can lead to procrastination, writer's block, and a lack of confidence in one's work. However, there are strategies that can be used to overcome imposter syndrome and become a more confident and successful writer. In this article, we will explore some of these strategies and provide practical tips for coping with imposter syndrome as a writer.

Defining imposter syndrome and its prevalence in the writing community

Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which an individual feels like a fraud despite their accomplishments. It is often accompanied by feelings of self-doubt, insecurity, and inadequacy. It is prevalent in the writing community, with many writers struggling to shake off the feeling that they don't belong or are not good enough.

 The impact of imposter syndrome on self-esteem and productivity

Imposter syndrome can have a significant impact on a writer's self-esteem and productivity. When a writer feels like a fraud, it can be difficult to produce work that they are proud of. This can lead to procrastination, writer's block, and a lack of confidence in one's abilities. It can also lead to a lack of productivity as the writer may be too self-conscious to put their work out into the world.

Identifying and challenging negative thoughts

Imposter syndrome often manifests as negative thoughts and self-talk, such as "I'm not good enough" or "I don't know what I'm doing". Recognizing these thoughts and challenging them is the first step to overcoming imposter syndrome. For example, instead of saying "I'm not good enough", try saying "I am a capable and experienced writer and I will continue to improve with practice."

Building confidence through small goals and achievements

Another strategy for coping with imposter syndrome is to set small goals and celebrate your achievements. These goals can be simple and specific, such as writing for 30 minutes a day, the initial plan of your story,  or submitting a piece of writing for publication. Celebrating your achievements, no matter how small, can help to build your confidence and remind you of your accomplishments.

 Seeking support from peers, mentors, and therapy

It's important to seek support from peers, mentors, and therapy. Joining a writing group or workshop can provide you with a safe and supportive environment where you can share your work, receive feedback, and connect with other writers who are going through similar experiences. Talking to a therapist can also be helpful in identifying the underlying cause of imposter syndrome and developing coping strategies.

Real-life examples of successful writers who have overcome imposter syndrome

Many successful writers have overcome imposter syndrome. J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Maya Angelou, and Neil Gaiman are just a few examples of writers who have struggled with imposter syndrome but have found success in their careers. It's important to remember that you're not alone in your struggles and that many successful writers have been in the same position.

Mindfulness and self-compassion in overcoming imposter syndrome

Mindfulness and self-compassion can be powerful tools in overcoming imposter syndrome. Mindfulness practices such as meditation and journaling can help you to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, and to respond to them in a more compassionate and non-judgmental way. Self-compassion also plays an important role in overcoming imposter syndrome by allowing you to be kind and understanding towards yourself, rather than being overly critical.

Taking action to overcome imposter syndrome

It's important to remember that imposter syndrome is not a permanent state and it can be overcome. However, you need to take action and not let it hold you back. This could be something as simple as setting small goals and celebrating your achievements, or something more significant like submitting your work for publication or applying for a writing grant. 


The key is to take action and not let fear and self-doubt hold you back from reaching your goals.


Imposter syndrome is a common experience among writers, but it is not insurmountable. By recognizing and challenging negative thoughts, seeking out validation and feedback, embracing the writing process, and surrounding yourself with a supportive community, you can overcome imposter syndrome and become a more confident and successful writer. 


Remember, writing is a journey and each step, whether it's a rough draft or a polished manuscript, is an important part of that journey. 


It is also important to remember the importance of self-compassion and resilience in the face of imposter syndrome. You are not alone in your struggles and many successful writers have been in the same position. 


With the right strategies and support, you can overcome imposter syndrome and reach your full potential as a writer.



Jessica Majewski is the editor-in-chief at Her journey began as an avid book reader, but after reading one too many romance novels, she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories.


With her passion for literature and storytelling, she quickly realized her true calling was in creating her own content


She shares her experiences in hopes of inspiring more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world. As a writer, publisher, and editor, she is dedicated to providing a platform for new and established voices in the literary world.


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The Insecure Writer's Support Group Day and Goodreads Book Club

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Pat Garcia, and Gwen Gardner!

February 1 question - If you are an Indie author, do you make your own covers or purchase them? If you publish trad, how much input do you have about what goes on your cover?

Here are the selections for February’s IWSG Goodreads Book Club:

Do you design your covers or have input on the ones your publisher creates?