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Sunday, 7 January 2018

Lovecraft Follow-up

This post is a follow-up to my piece on my complicated feelings towards the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. I'm returning to the topic based on a reply I got on Twitter from a comment on the subject prior to publishing that post. It ran like this;

While I have no problem with strong female protagonists in fiction, I think your time could be better spent understanding the underlying themes of Lovecraft's mythos and less on making it 'acceptable' for modern audiences. Good luck in your future writing.
That got me thinking. While I'm not going to abandon the original idea or my intent on making Lovecraft's universe to a wider audience that isn't as tolerant of casual racism and elitism as Lovecraft's original readers were, I realise that adopting the deeper themes of his work alongside the complex universe he presents on face value has its merits. As I've said, my usual subjects are as far removed form Lovecraft's own as it's possible to get.

So how do I create a compelling Lovecraft homage without corrupting my own style? Well, first, don't be put off by the very long words and complex expressions the original author is notorious for. In fact, embrace them, glorify them, eulogise them! I've got plans for a key Lovecraftian figure to talk like that as part of his trickster-like persona. Having the contrast between my heroine's down-to-earth way of speaking and the flowery speech of this character should help create an interesting contrast between them in addition to furthering the homage.

Another aspect that must be preserved is the tone. A key aspect of Lovecraftian fiction is the idea that there are forces existing beyond comprehension that make humanity seem insignificant by comparison. While these themes aren't my favourites, I'll still use them when needed and so I can adjust to writing within it. The main thing to remember is this; I can create a world similar to Lovecraft without sacrificing a strong main protagonist that doesn't meet an excessively horrific end by the final page.

Finally, there's that key element to any true Lovecraft narrative; the unreliable narrator, or at least the narrator whose account was made shortly before his untimely death. While this is more than suitable, it's also rather depressing. So I've decided to take inspiration from another author; Agatha Christie. She is best remembered for her lighter detective stories, but she also experimented with unreliable narrators, shifting first-to-third person points of view, and retrospective knowledge changing the perception of events previously clear-cut. While I'll keep the details secret, I can say that this combined with the Lovecraft angle has provided me with a wonderful means of incorporating the unreliable narrator while keeping with a single sane protagonist.

I'm not sure how much more there is to say. I'm still in the early stages of creating this story, and much might change. Hopefully it won't join the small but significant pile of concepts and projects I couldn't complete for whatever reason. As of now, I'll just have to keep writing and planning. And hope for the best.

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