Most epistolary writing has some kind of foreword, preface or prologue from the editor, or similar (for increased suspension of disbelief).
This is the preface to Song of Kali by Dan Simmons:
Some places are too evil to be allowed to exist. Some cities are too wicked to be suffered. Calcutta is such a place. Before Calcutta I would have laughed at such an idea. Before Calcutta I did not believe in evil — certainly not as a force separate from the actions of men. Before Calcutta I was a fool.
After the Romans had conquered the city of Carthage, they killed the men, sold the women and children into slavery, pulled down the great buildings, broke up the stones, burned the rubble, and salted the earth so that nothing would ever grow there again. That is not enough for Calcutta. Calcuttashould be expunged.
Before Calcutta I took part in marches against nuclear weapons. Now I dream of nuclear mushroom clouds rising above a city. I see buildings melting into lakes of glass. I see paved streets flowing like rivers of lava and real rivers boiling away in great gouts of steam. I see human figures dancing like burning insects, like obscene praying mantises sputtering and bursting against a fiery red background of total destruction.
The city is Calcutta. The dreams are not unpleasant.
Some places are too evil to be allowed to exist.
”Today everything happens in Calcutta . . .
Who should I blame?”
— Sankha Ghosh
”Don’t go, Bobby,” said my friend. ”It’s not worth it.”
It was June of 1977, and I had come down to New York from New Hampshire in order to finalize the details of the Calcutta trip with my editor at Harper’s. Afterward I decided to drop in to see my friend Abe Bronstein. The modest uptown office building that housed our little literary magazine, Other Voices, looked less than impressive after several hours of looking down on Madison Avenue from the rarefied heights of the suites at Harper’s.
Abe was in his cluttered office, alone, working on the autumn issue of Voices. The windows were open, but the air in the room was as stale and moist as the dead cigar that Abe was chewing on. ”Don’t go to Calcutta, Bobby,” Abe said again. ”Let someone else do it.”
Write a preface to your epistolary short story.
After 20 minutes. Read aloud.
Increase drama. New entry in your epistolary novel. We jump to the yellow
Split hero. Good and bad in one. Moody. Mixed emotion in reader toward character.
Analepsis: ”flashing back” to an earlier point in the story
Gothic elements include the following:
1. Setting in a castle, ruin, asylum, church yard, bell tower, museum, tomb, mosque, church, wind mill, wild nature
2. An atmosphere of mystery and suspense.The work is pervaded by a threatening feeling, a fear enhanced by the unknown.
4. Omens, portents, visions.
5. Supernatural or otherwise inexplicable events.
7. Women in distress.
8. Women threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male.
Imagery of the Gothic
|wind, especially howling||rain, especially blowing|
|doors grating on rusty hinges||sighs, moans, howls, eerie sounds|
|footsteps approaching||clanking chains|
|lights in abandoned rooms||gusts of wind blowing out lights|
|characters trapped in a room||doors suddenly slamming shut|
|ruins of buildings||baying of distant dogs (or wolves?)|
|thunder and lightning||crazed laughter|
Vocabulary of the Gothic
|diabolical, enchantment, ghost, goblins, haunted, infernal, magic, magician, miracle, necromancer, omens, ominous, portent, preternatural, prodigy, prophecy, secret, sorcerer, spectre, spirits, strangeness, talisman, vision|
Fear, Terror, or Sorrow
|afflicted, affliction, agony, anguish, apprehensions, apprehensive, commiseration, concern, despair, dismal, dismay, dread, dreaded, dreading, fearing, frantic, fright, frightened, grief, hopeless, horrid, horror, lamentable, melancholy, miserable, mournfully, panic, sadly, scared, shrieks, sorrow, sympathy, tears, terrible, terrified, terror, unhappy, wretched|
|alarm, amazement, astonished, astonishment, shocking, staring, surprise, surprised, thunderstruck, wonder|
|anxious, breathless, flight, frantic, hastened, hastily, impatience, impatient, impatiently, impetuosity, precipitately, running, sudden, suddenly|
|anger, angrily, choler, enraged, furious, fury, incense, incensed, provoked, rage, raving, resentment, temper, wrath, wrathful, wrathfully|
|enormous, gigantic, giant, large, tremendous, vast|
|Darkness||dark, darkness, dismal, shaded, black, night|