Writing Gloom - Creating goth and other alternative characters
My novel Fire Play mainly takes place in the goth scene. Why? Well, to put it simply... author appeal! What is sexier than cute tattooed boys with eyeliner and piercings in interesting places living, loving and angsting over each other? I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks so. When you’ve been around that scene for nearly ten years like me, writing alternative characters is easy enough. So I thought I’d share some pointers.
The number one reason I love writing goth characters (after the eyeliner) is the sheer freedom it allows me. Thing is, you can pretty much take all known gender stereotypes and throw them out the window. These are men who are not afraid to get emotional or strut on a runway in a skirt and corset for an underground designer’s fashion show. The lines of gender-specific appearance are gleefully blurred, and a straight-as-an-arrow man who takes longer doing his makeup than his girlfriend is not uncommon.
This, of course, tells you something right there about the background of your vinyl-skirt-sporting, long-haired goth boy character. Chances are, he had quite a tough time in school. Perhaps he was one of the geeks, involved in arts, music, or just playing lots of D&D and Vampire: the Masquerade with his friends. And his parents were probably not the most understanding: a goth girl is one thing, but a guy dyeing his hair black and wearing makeup is unfortunately more likely to get parents worked up. He might come from a bad background, have abusive parents or a very difficult personal history, but not necessarily. Most goths are pretty well-adjusted.
The grown-up goth likes to experiment—some experiments are more harmless than others. Since there is less stigma among goths, he’d have absolutely no problem with trying different things with different people, if you know what I mean. Quite a few goths (boys and girls) consider themselves proudly bisexual. A lot of them are also involved in the fetish community, be it for the kink or the style. In a big city there might be a subculture-specific nightclub or bar, even several, but usually there is a goth night in a regular nightclub (Le Chat Noir from Fire Play is purely fictional, in Montreal there are only alternative nights at the moment). These nights are what the scene revolves around. Naturally, where everyone knows everyone (and often in the most intimate fashion) there will be conflict, aka drama. This can and should be used to your advantage when creating your characters.
A few other things to keep in mind when writing your characters and their surroundings:
Music is a serious business in that scene. Goths are quite possibly the most picky and hard-to please bunch. The foundations of the style lie in the 80’s, with groups such as Bauhaus, sisters of Mercy and The Cure being considered quintessential goth listening. But of course styles have evolved, and now what you’ll hear on a typical club night is more aggressive electronic and industrial sounds. Mainstays include VNV Nation, Combichrist, Front 242, Icon of Coil... I could go on, it all depends on the DJ and the crowd.
The younger goths don’t take themselves quite as seriously as the “purists” of the beginnings of the scene in the 80’s and 90’s. Color is now not only allowed but encouraged—gone are the days of midnight black velvet and lace, and neon green, pink and silver are in favour. Fashions vary from cyber to Lolita to post-punk to whatever-was-clean. The classic old-school style seems to be pretty much gone—but it might be too soon to say. The goth subculture is uncannily good at coming back from the dead, and is it really surprising?
One of my favourite depictions of goths in literature is Silk by Kaitlin Kiernan. Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls also features goth characters, plus loads of drama, angst, and vampire/horror elements. Anne Rice’s vampire books pretty much laid the foundation for the goth aesthetic. And for a glimpse of the subculture, try The Goth Bible by Nancy Kilpatrick. (Amazon link: Here). It doesn’t cover everything (after all, goth fashion, like most fashion, constantly evolves) but you’ll get a good feel for the attitudes and the atmosphere of the scene.
Dany Sirene lives in Montreal. She now mainly spends her clubbing nights at home by the computer, writing about freaks, misfits and outcasts. Occasionally, though, she does give in to the urge to dust off her platform boots.
More on Dany’s blogs: Blogger / LiveJournal / Goodreads
Find Fire Play, a paranormal romance set in the goth scene, HERE.
Fire demiurge Lau had it made until the Mother Goddess banished him for his cruel treatment of humans. Now he’s stuck in a mortal life, trying to cope without his powers—mainly by partying hard and seducing anything with a heartbeat.
Then he meets Jesse Warner.
College student Jesse is new to Montreal. Out from under his parents’ thumbs for the first time, he can’t wait to begin to discover who he really is. He has no idea what’s really at stake when he falls in love with the former demiurge... until a powerful being with a grudge shows up, ready to destroy them both.
credit for pictures: bauhaus and ameimmortelle, copyright through their producers, gothboy by myspacebarn.com, gothboypurple (second life) by second-man.com
From Clare: Like to stretch your writing fingers after Christmas' excesses? Fancy writing something for the visitors this month? It can be anything from a flashfic 3 sentences to a drabble of 100 or so, or even more. Any genre, any theme, any rating, any character(s). Maybe ones you already love, maybe the chance to try on a new character for size.
I'm holding a FREE FICTION DAY on the 28th, so send me new fiction - links to your existing work also welcome! - to clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll post it all then :).
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