Violence. Sex. Horror. Insanity. Abuse. Trauma. These are all things considered dark writing, and they all have a wonderful place in literacy. When you are writing and considering if you should add such dark elements, it can be a scary choice.
What if I scare off potential readers?
What if I can’t research topics properly?
What if people judge me for writing such things?
Dark elements aren’t for every story, that’s for sure. But if you’re asking yourself if you should or should not put them in, take that choice very seriously, because you’ll likely find that if you’re asking at all, then they do belong.
Life is a beautiful thing. Wonderful and full of so many things. But for all the beautiful, there exists the ugly. Each makes the other more prominent, for we cannot have one without the other. Just as we cannot have light without darkness. Just how dark you will go is ultimately up to you, but it’s not a thing to be afraid of.
I heard once that Art is made to comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comforted. I cannot source that, but I believe it one hundred percent. All forms of art, whether that be pictures, music, movies, or writing, can and should do this. It is such a powerful tool to convey your message and should never be shied away from because of societal judgments.
That said, this darkness needs to be implemented responsibly.
Never use horror for horror’s sake. Simply adding in horrific details to make the book darker or more edgy is not a constructive way to use use tools. Sure, you can get a reaction from your readers in the way of making their stomach crawl, or for nightmare fuel, but if it doesn’t send a message, if it doesn’t have a purpose, then at that point, it’s just gore porn. And sure, that does have its own place in other things, but if you want to send a solid message through dark overtones, then too much of that darkness can undermine your vision.
I am a true believer in darkness. Living in happy valley Utah with a largely religious community, that comes with a lot of complications, but I’ve learned to stop caring. Reading dark stories has personally helped me with my own darkness. It has comforted my disturbed mind, and I will always love books for that. So don’t be afraid that a book might not sell because it has darkness in it. Don’t tone things down simply for the chance of an expanded audience. Write your story and your message and use all the tools you need to make it the most beautiful, and ugly thing that it deserves to be.
All pictures provided were drawn by me, Marlena Money
Follow my art at Xakriuth.deviantart.com
Follow my Twitter at twitter.com/UltimaSheep
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.