Friday, January 17, 2020
Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera
And of course the Opera was said to be haunted -- what grand old building is not said to be haunted? -- and Leroux said he heard Opera workers blaming mishaps on the ghost. While the great chandelier itself did not really fall onto the audience as it does in the book, one of its massive counterweights did, killing a patron, and Leroux said he was told this was the work of the ghost.
So here is my formula for crafting a Gothic tale: take a great old building or site that has dramatic events in its past and is already rumored to be haunted, preferably one that your audience knows well. Play up the mysteries of the building, the forgotten rooms sealed off in past restorations, the dark basements, the high roof. Insert a tragic antihero and an innocent, beautiful woman and surround them with other stereotypical characters: bluff policemen, flamboyant opera directors, gossiping fans, fools in love. Run everyone through a very basic, old-fashioned plot with at least one sad death. Insist that everything might be true. Behold! If your evocations of the place and the pitiable damnation of your antihero ring true enough, you might have a hit on your hands.