Writing Gothic Fiction with Francesca Lia Block

Learn to write your own Gothic story by examining setting, character, plot, voice and theme. Weetzie Bat author Francesca Lia Block will be your guide in this 4-week class.

Your Instructor: Francesca Lia Block, author of the Weetzie Bat Books

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 16 students

Price: $399

Class Description

In this four-week course and workshop, acclaimed author Francesca Lia Block will teach you the basics of how to write Gothic fiction, examining setting, character, plot, voice and theme.

Francesca is the author of over twenty-five acclaimed and award-winning works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, including the memoir/writing guide The Thorn Necklace: Healing Through Writing and the Creative Process and the cult classic Dangerous Angels: Weetzie Bat Books. Her latest novel, House of Hearts, was published July 2022.

In this course, you will study how to develop sympathetic Gothic characters with strong antagonists (the “Demon Lover”). Then you will choose a “Dark Secret” around which to develop your plot. On the third week, you'll learn how to create the “Dark House” Gothic setting.  Finally, you will discover secrets to a strong Gothic voice and theme.

Each week includes a lecture, a writing assignment, to be critiqued by Francesca and your peers, as well as ample opportunity for discussion.

What This Class Covers

Week 1 – Character: “The Demon Lover”

A sympathetic protagonist needs a want, a need, a gift, a flaw and a strong, dimensional antagonist to begin to push them toward change.  In Gothic fiction this antagonist is often a “Demon Lover.”

Week 2 – Plot: “The Dark Secret”

Plot is conflict that emerges out of a character’s relationship with his or her antagonist, usually one who harbors a secret of some kind. In Gothic fiction, this “Dark Secret” may involve violence or sexuality and may have supernatural or apparently supernatural overtones.

Week 3 – Setting: “The Dark House”

Setting can provide conflict as a reflection of the character’s struggle. It can also be a character in its own right. In Gothic Fiction, the “Dark House” can be a literal haunted mansion or castle, or any place that expresses the shadow side of the characters in some way.

Week 4 – Voice and Theme: “The Shadow”

Narrators in Gothic Fiction are often unreliable, providing more tension for your story.  Themes of confronting (or avoiding) the shadow also add complexity and tension.

Goals Of This Class

In this class, students will learn:

  • How to create a sympathetic protagonist with a want, need, gift, flaw, and an arc or the potential for change.
  • How to create a complex, dimensional antagonist in the form of a “Demon Lover.”
  • How to create a strong plot, relying on the conflict between the protagonist’s wants and the antagonist and their “Dark Secret” as an obstacle to that want.
  • How to create a Gothic setting in the tradition of the “Dark House.”
  • How to create the best voice for the story through the use of an unreliable narrator.
  • How to develop themes of the Gothic “Shadow.”
  • How to understand the relevance of Gothic fiction as it pertains to all fiction.
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