As break time drew to a close, the boys in Y8 left the sun-filled playground and started their walk towards the towering gothic building know as ‘The Inky’. As they stepped out of the light into the dark, blood-red building, the air cooled around them, and the clamour of the playground fell silent. All that could be heard was the creak of doors and the murmur of distant discussions, hushed and whispered in tone. As they rounded the corner, the chairs of the library lay in lines waiting for them like silent sentries. The boys readied themselves for the period ahead. Were they ready for the challenge that awaited? Were they prepared for the task at hand? Were they ready for gothic stories . . .
Of course they were, as none other than the school’s Patron of Reading, the brilliantly funny author Steve Skidmore was waiting for them. During the day, each Y8 class enjoyed a fun-filled masterclass on writing gothic stories with Steve. Through readings (which had the boys laughing in their seats), film clips and discussion, Steve explained the difference between horror and gothic fiction. He also shared some of his top tips, which included:
- Think of a story like a jigsaw puzzle – every piece (theme, character and setting) needs to match up.
- Use the magic of three to create tension and conflict.
- Think long (lots of planning, including figuring out how a story will end) and then write quickly.
- Add clues (foreshadowing) to encourage the reader to guess the outcome – and add in a few red herrings too.
- But most of all, have fun and enjoy your writing.