We discuss a lot of dark topics on Killer Chicks: true crime so horrific most fiction writers couldn't make it credible on the page, novels that plumb the depths of human endurance, what topics are appropriate for which age group, movies that both entertain and terrorize. We’ve gone over favorite murder weapons and favorite villains and favorite serial killers. I can’t speak for Jenny and JB, but I don’t get a chill when I write my posts or my comment responses or my paragraphs for Free-For-All-Fridays.
When I sit down to write my own novels I am excruciatingly aware of (and struggle deeply with) the darkness eating up my pages. My current work-in-progress is: 1) young adult (of course!), 2) about some stuff that scares the crap out of me in real life, and 3) terribly difficult to write. I never know where to draw the line, especially given that I’m writing for a younger audience. I was reading Stephen King at eleven. I have no perspective. And obviously I’m pretty desensitized if I can type up a paragraph on burying someone alive without so much as a quickened pulse.
I don’t think I could ever limit my writer’s imagination by saying “here and no further”, but I do it all the time as a consumer. I love horror movies, but I won’t watch torture porn. I love writers who push the boundaries of what’s deemed “appropriate”, but if I discover beforehand that a novel contains, say, animal violence, I’m more than likely going to skip it. And so on.
I was so uncertain about my current book I did something I’ve never done before: I pitched it to my husband before he’d read a single word. His response? “That is completely awesome. Dark. Really dark. But awesome.” He’s right – it is dark, really dark, but there’s no way to sugarcoat the storyline. In fact, backing off wouldn’t serve the book well and I’d be caving as a writer. Unfortunately knowing that doesn’t make it easier to write.
For our writer friends, do you also struggle with putting your deepest, darkest fears on the page? How do you push through, keep your sanity, and give your story everything it deserves?
For our reader friends, where/how do you draw the darkness line? What’s dark, too dark for you?