Annie On Writing

October 4, 2011

Darkness in Writing

Filed under: Genres,Writing Styles — Annie Evett @ 12:01 am

Most writers, if pressed, will admit to producing at least one dark piece of text somewhere on their journey – be it angst filled poetry or blood splattered fiction. Dark writing encompasses a wide range of settings and genre, tied loosely together as an exploration into the shadier paths of the human condition.Its been defined by some as following the Jungian “shadow aspect” where writers focus on characters weaknesses, shortcomings, and nightmares. Dark writing includes, but is not limited to mainstream horror, paranormal fantasy, urban paranormal mysteries, steampunk, cyberpunk, zombie, vampire, gothic, monster fictions and a wide range of science, spec and fantasy fiction.What sets Dark Fiction apart from other sub genres is the way the mood and languaging transports the reader into a shadier, uncomfortable world.

For many writers, this darkness comes from a space that is easily accessed. Although perhaps they have not lived a violent or desperately unhappy life, parts of their world may have been filled with anxiety, loneliness, anger or sadness. These experiences, expounded, teased apart and deeply explored allows these writers to empathise with their dark texts and characters.

Other writers who have had a traumatic experience have found solace within the process of writing. Some fictionalise characters, thinly disguising historical and personal events, whilst others produce raw emotional text, allowing readers to experience the fears and thoughts of the situation they had found themselves in.

Regardless of how or where they draw their material from, writers of the darker fiction often find themselves in conflict, adjacent or at best living parallel to the norms of society. Sometimes this is a direct result of the experiences they have endured. Other times, it is part of the self awareness journey they have taken as they challenge their environment. It is through exploring the hidden and unspoken worlds of our culture, that they question these norms, challenge the accepted and find a place for their views.

Great stories contain great truths. Even in the most fanciful science fiction setting, solid, believable characters who have won the empathy of their readers strike a basic human truth in the way they react and deal with the events occurring around them. The most bloodthirsty torture scene has the opportunity to challenge a deeply seated belief, allowing the reader to draw new conclusions and world views about certain situations, personality types or events.

If an author writes with authenticity, their personality is strongly reflected within the text; whether it is a piece of poetry, or fiction. This doesn’t mean that writers of horror or thrillers are about to launch into or draw from a career in crime. Rather, these writers dig deeply to take explore inner fears, the ‘what if’s’ and expand nightmares to paint dark pictures with their words. They may even challenge you to reflect on the hidden parts of your own life.

Photo of “Twisted Tree” from a private collection


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