Dark stories force us to confront taboo subjects

A story is considered dark if it tackles the disturbing stuff that makes most people uncomfortable; anything from the horror of war, drugs, human trafficking, child abuse, genocide, crimes, terrorism, taboo and good old fashioned blood, guts and gore.

Darkness in Fiction:

– characters that struggle,
– worlds on the brink of destruction, in need of saving,
– words that go into the deep, little-seen parts of the soul,
– dark is anything outside our accepted rose-tinted reality
– dark is the taboo: aspects of our lives, our fantasies, our greatest fears.
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Focus on making your story believable, consistent and relatable. It is not ALL about aesthetics, gore, violence and death; it’s about situations that evoke and speak to your reader. Dark stories tend to be move human emotions because of the subject matter and themes. With fears and anxieties pushed to the fore-front, emotions become magnified; they get in the reader’s face. There does not have to be a happy ending in dark stories.

Tips for writing horror, a dark story

1. The darkness must have meaning. Many readers like it when characters are combating tough situations because it inspires them and shows us that we can work through our problems. That is the key to making darkness in fiction so alluring. Not the darkness, but what people can glimpse on the other side. The meaning, the purpose, the light.

2. Dark does not mean twisted, brutal, or gory. It is not necessary to have to have people cut up with a chainsaw, or a story told from the voice of a schizophrenic sadist. You do not have to spill gallons of blood.  Try using cleverness or subtlety.

3. Lighten the mood. Dark stories can have a lightness to them. Your characters can joke. Your writing style is allowed to be funny. The natural world is filled with rainbows and sunshine. There is no need to drown your readers in nightmares children’s tears, and horror.

4. It is not a necessary to kill your protagonist or hero. Death and unnecessary darkness does not make a good book.

6. Go deep and complex with your characters. Your heroes do not have to be 100% good; your villains are not 100% evil. They should have goals, contradictions, character flaws, dark secrets, and admirable traits. Those qualities add realism, an important component to dark stories.

7. Everything does not need to be wrapped up at the end. The world is messy and seldom makes sense. In real life there are questions we cannot answer and problems we cannot solve. Don’t feel like you must have all the answers and solutions to the darkness in your story. You MUST have a point that your readers can take away from it. No one has all the answers to life’s questions  and understanding the universe. Your character/characters only has/have to find a way out of the darkness…or at least find a way to live within it.

“Linda has published sixteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish.”