Have you ever thought about writing something dark? By dark I mean that the imagery and content may portray anger, a psychological unbalanced characters or tragedy. There may even be some bloodshed. Stephen King and Dean Koontz are two authors that come to my mind as successful writers of the darkness. This type of writing may not be everyone’s style. But, for those who are interested in adding some darkness to their writing, listen up. I have put together a few writing tips for you to consider while writing your story.
It’s about balance. Things are not always bright and happy or always dark and horrifying. I like to think of it in terms of a roller coaster ride. There’s a balance between fast and slow. The ride starts off like there is nothing to fear, slowly up it takes you up, then there is this sudden fast drop. That’s what makes the ride fun for some. That element of surprise. Total darkness throughout the whole story leaves no room for processing what’s taking place. It’s like watching a movie where every scene is bloodshed. You would probably soon get bored and turn off the movie. Stories that aren’t considered dark include conflict of some sort to make the story interesting. Adding darkness to your story is not to see how grossed out you can make the reader, but should illustrate something vivid to place the reader in the moment of what they are reading. Review your story, then consider the message you are wanting to give. Consider the level of darkness that fits with your story. The flow of your story should be balanced, so at every turn readers are thrilled with the actions of the characters and events. Just remember going too far into the darkness and staying there may create something different in the mind of your readers.
The theme of your story is the focal point. Before you begin writing, decide on the theme. The theme is what drives the flow of your writing. Sometimes I find it helpful after I write my theme to take some time to let it marinate in my head to see how it leads out into a story. This could be considered day dreaming or brainstorming. Another helpful element is to outline your story in a hero’s journey format. This will keep the flow and allow you to see where you can incorporate elements of darkness. Knowing how your story will end is important. Adding dark elements to your writing doesn’t mean that it must end in darkness. The theme should bloom fully at the end. At this point the reader is either surprised or expected what happens.
The Back Story
I feel it’s necessary to include the back stories of the characters in your dark story. Doing this explains how they interact with other characters and move the story in certain directions. It mimics real life. We engage with life and others based on our story. This gives the readers something to relate to or consider when reading. The triggers that a character may experience relate to something in their past. This may be just the fuel they need to act in dark ways. Your audience will resonate with that and still be surprised at the lengths these characters will go to related to their brokenness. Writing the back story provides the chance to set the stage and answers questions in the mind of the reader.
Your writing can be as board or confined as you want it to be. That’s the freedom we have as writers. Adding dark elements to your writing is a decision only you can make. If you should decide to, I hope these writing tips are helpful. Remember adding dark elements to your story is another way of adding the element of surprise or a dash of fear to liven up your story.
In the meantime, keep writing and putting those stories together.