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Exploring Darkness In Your Writing

It is no secret that I tend to write dark, exploring the more base aspects of humanity. I think it's the part of me that once wanted to be a profiler. Or maybe it's just the psych in me. Whatever it is, I am not one to shy away from the shadow.

Going dark can be hard for some people - forcing them to confront the shadow that exists within. For me, exploring our shadow selves is an important aspect of the journey of the self. Not because of some morbid curiosity about madness and other scary things, but because it is the exploration of darkness that enables me to truly understand the light.

I know - deep.

I write classic horror and psychological thrillers. In these projects I have explored the depths of evil as I search for understanding regarding our responsibilities in the face of such darkness. I've also explored the paralyzing impact of fear on the human psyche, and the nature - and cost - of redemption. My most recent project looks at the transformation that occurs as a person goes from ignoring their own madness to embracing it.

So, I do I go "there"? How do I allow myself to go deep into my characters psyche and bring to the story the darkness it may need?

It starts with listening - to my characters, to the story, to the world around me. This process enables me to connect with the shadow inherent in all of us. As I connect to that, I am able to take my characters to their own person breaking points. I want them to be completely spent - physically, emotionally and spiritually - by the time they reach that critical last turn in a story. I want them, and the reader, to be certain they have nothing left and no way to survive the situation they are in. And then I want them to pull themselves up and face their demons anyways. Regardless the cost.I think it is in that moment or near annihilation that my characters discover their true nature and what they are really made of.

Now, not all of my characters handle that level of ego assassination well. Some even die. But those endings are not meant to frustrate my readers. They are meant to help us all understand the nature of the shadow - and the light.

Echkart Tolle has said that "Evil is an extreme manifestation of human unconsciousness." For me, the journey my characters take as they confront their shadows helps them - and hopefully us - become more conscious.

Do you explore the darkness within in your writings?


  1. Way to go, Christine! I love that you've quoted Tolle. :)

    I don't write dark so much, but I do strive to write the raw truth of the human condition. Like you said, it takes understanding all that yuck to truly grasp the good and the light. Plus, in my opinion, it brings us closer to compassion and acceptance of others.

    Great post!

  2. I love your take on it. I wrote my first dark manuscript and thought I would need therapy. LOL. A great post.

  3. I don't write as dark as you do, but I can see how it fits what you write. And it sounds like you have a great understanding of that side of character. And all of us, and our characters, have some darkness. It's good to bring out our character's faults.


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