Hi, I’m Josem from Spain.
I am and write in Spanish but found your site a trove of information for any aspiring writer in any language. That said, my apologies if my English is a little rusty.
My question is about setting, or rather the descriptions. I’m writing a story (novel-sized) that takes place in an alternate present in which the Lovecraft mythos are real. Not only real, but known by the general populace with most major Old Ones and External Gods being worshipped. The question is: how can I describe the everyday look and feel of “gloomyness” and gothic horror to the inhabitants of the world, who are accustomed to it, without the descriptions being old, fast?
I find trying to maintain Lovecraft tone for big chunks of texts repetitive and tiring, but I really want the reader to experience the world and its strangeness but also get the feeling that their inhabitants find it absolutely normal.
Thanks for your answers and, please, keep on with the web!
Hey Josem, thanks for writing in!
A world wherein the Old Ones are publicly worshiped sounds super interesting; however, I don’t think it’ll mix well with the atmosphere of a traditional Lovecraft story. Cosmic horror stories, the genre Lovecraft wrote in, depend a lot on keeping things mysterious, especially the supernatural elements. At the same time, most of Lovecraft’s pantheon is so destructive that they would probably need to be toned down somewhat to work as part of an everyday religion. Even an extreme religion would have difficulty maintaining the kind of horror we see in most mythos stories.
You could up the horror by using a protagonist who’s not from this world, but that will only work for a limited time. Eventually, they’d get used to it as well. People can get used to almost anything, given enough time.
My recommendation would be to go with a more serious version of something like the audio-drama Welcome to Night Vale. Sure, everyone knows about Cthulhu and Azathoth, maybe they even go to the temple square and pay their respects on Sundays. But for most people, life is fairly normal, as they don’t actually have to deal with these gods personally.
Then, you can add elements of hidden danger and paranoia. Most people don’t have to deal with eldritch horrors, but every once in a while, someone will disappear or see something that leaves them permanently scarred. Everyone knows this happens, but they don’t like talking about it, because the cults are basically in charge. They have all the magic, so anyone who speaks out against them quickly disappears.
That wouldn’t exactly be cosmic horror, but it’s horror nonetheless, and it leverages the unique strength of your world rather than working against them.
Hope that answers your question, and good luck with your writing!