Writing the Gothic Hero

I’m currently a tad stuck with the hero in my WIP. I think it’s because I took too much of a writing hiatus (no new pages in two weeks–longest dry spell to date) and my hero’s voice kind of faded. It’s not that I don’t still LOVE him or think he’s one of the strongest characters I’ve written, it’s just that his voice wasn’t ever-present in my head anymore. I couldn’t see and hear what he’d do in every situation I threw him up against. (And he’s got to be ready for what’s to come! These next fifty pages are going to turn his world upside down!) That’s when I started researching to get to know my hero better…

There are three types of Gothic Heroes


This guy is the classic overachiever.
He stands behind his own moral code.
He often does “good” by performing rebellious acts or breaking laws.
This guy sacrifices his own well being so others may have little things like freedom and love.
This guy kicks some ass, breaks some laws, but does it all for the sake of his own special brand of “justice”.
He could also possibly bear personal responsibility for some failure in his past.

*Think Batman saving Gotham.

*How’d this picture sneak in here?


Oh, these are the dark, dark, dark bad boys.
They’re secretive
Very conflicted over something in their past and
Fatally attractive.
They’re also extremely arrogant
Jaded and
World weary.

*Think Anne Rice’s Lestat from Interview with a Vampire

*Or Edward Cullen from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, if you prefer.


These guys are fascinating
Dark and
They’re obsessive
And can also have their own moral code (although they willingly sacrifice little of themselves to achieve their end goal).
One of the key components to this guy is no matter how close he gets to the flame, he doesn’t ever think he’s the one who’s going to get burned.

*Think Annakin Skywalker from Star Wars Episodes 1-3.

*Or maybe just veer from the gothic hero for a moment and look at this…

*See? Isn’t research fun? (Side note: He was my pick to play Edward Cullen. Wouldn’t he have been fantastic?)

Seriously though, after researching the three types of Gothic Heroes, you may be asking yourself the same thing I was…Why On Earth Are These Men Heroes? Brooding and moody? Troubled pasts? Burdened by secret guilt? Jaded and arrogant? I don’t know about you, but in real life those traits don’t scream Dating Quality.

The Promethean Hero is appealing because although he is doing wrong, we, as readers, can somewhat understand the logic behind his moral ambiguity. Sure, Batman is killing people…but he’s killing inherently evil people. He’s cleaning up the streets of Gotham, right? We want to be the heroine at his bad-ass side, whispering in his ear, telling him to do right…when what we really enjoy is the duality in his nature.

The Byronic Hero is appealing because…well because they’re bad boys. They can never accept praise because they think they’re the villain. They don’t feel worthy of love. Heroines see the sensitivity behind the tough guy act and fall hard. Only through the heroine can the Byronic Hero step into the light. Don’t you just want to be that heroine who turns the bad boy good?

The Satanic Hero is appealing because they are secure and defiant and constantly search for meaning outside of the traditional norms. They have a sense of purpose that draws heroines (and readers) in. They have a fire burning within them…a passion, if you will. Heroines and readers alike hope that by being that Satanic Hero’s leading lady, that passion will translate into their relationship. (It often does, fyi, at the cost of other things in the heroine’s life.

I think I know where the hero in my WIP falls among the Gothic Heroes. He’s Byronic all the way..but what about the hero in your WIP? Is he solidly one? A blend of two? I’m curious to hear what’s being written out there…

Also, did this post interest you? If I did another post on what type of heroines are best suited for Gothic Heroes would you find it helpful? I’ve researched hours and hours and would love to pass on the information if even one person found it as useful as I have. (You can either comment or email.)


8 thoughts on “Writing the Gothic Hero

  1. Really great post, Kristin. I enjoyed it. My hero in TFC is definitely byronic, but he has elements of the other two as well. The hero in my current WIP is a mix of promethian and satanic. Byronic heroes are my favorite though. I love those bad bad bad boys. Can't get enough of them. But I do also have a soft spot for the satanic boys as well. Pretty much the more mysterious and badass, the better lol. Great post.

  2. Looks like there's a ton of Byronic hero lovers out there! lol!Samantha–too funny! I think I had more fun researching which yummy picture to put up than I did researching the characteristics of the hero types! 😉

  3. i'm currently on two stories right now. one is a byronic hero to the extremest of measures. brooding, guilt ridden over the death of his one true love. putting himself into the fire to put up with life. and he sees his soul slowly disappearing. never truely happy. the other hero is a mix of promethean and byronic heroes. always breaking the laws of society to protect the love interest that he sees as his second chance at redemption for the murder he committed in his past that has haunted him. issues with his family, daddy problems in particular and an absentee mother. deeply romantic though, but always willing to give his life for the love interest and will always destroy anyone who threatens her.

  4. Anonymous–Is the story a romance? If so, your first hero would wind up with the heroine in the end. Remember, every romance has to have a happily-ever-after ending…eventually. Though at times during their journey, they should be so conflicted that the reader isn't sure how they'll wind up together. But they do! And that's what makes it so great.As for the second story, it sounds like your hero and heroine are already together, right? Second chances at redemption always make great stories–and the love between them greater in my opinion. Once you know what there is to lose, it makes you hold on tighter to what you have. Thanks for commenting! I love to hear what others are writing.

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