Exposing The Darkness: Writing Evil…Right – Part 2

By Jamie Dougall

The first part can be found here: Exposing The Darkness: Writing Evil…Right Part 1

 

2. The Story

Every story you write will be different from the others. Each will have its own particular set of limits. We have already established why stories need evil to generate conflict, but we haven’t stopped to ask why you are including these elements in your story. Paul makes an excellent point when he writes there is a difference between participating in the unfruitful deeds of darkness and exposing them (NASB, Eph.  5. 11-12). In writing, that difference is wrapped up in theme. writingdarknessfb

Theme keeps your use of gore and darkness in check because it puts meaning behind the events of your story. Without a theme, we risk losing our way in the darkness.  We risk forgetting our purpose and aimlessly writing evil for no other reason than to create something we hope is ‘entertaining’. As a Christian, this is a very real problem. If you are using gore and darkness solely as a draw card or as your story’s ‘energy drink’, you are not exposing the darkness. You are participating in it.

You can use your theme to set limits for your story by making your conflict, and therefore, your use of darkness, flow out of your story’s theme.

  • Establish what your theme is.

If your theme is something like “Love is powerful”, you will then consider what true love looks like in action. A loving person is sacrificial, caring for others even more than he or she cares for himself.  [Read more…]

Exposing The Darkness: Writing Evil…Right – Part 1

By Jamie Dougall

 

Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated, or perhaps obsessed, with right and wrong. Mom tells me stories about how I knew there was a right and a wrong way to do something, and would not do anything until I figured out which way was right. Now I’ve grown some since then, and I’ve realized sometimes there is more than one way to get a job done. Still, I have that same desire to get things right, and that desire redoubles when it comes to the written word. writingdarknessfb

After all, once your words are in print and in the hands of your readers, you can never change them. I’ve wrestled with questions like:

  • Is it appropriate to write violence and gore?
  • Is it evil to write evil?
  • How dark is too dark?

Many Christian writers struggle with these questions. We want to craft good stories, we want to “get it right”, but most of all we want to honor a God who hates evil. We feel stuck and kind of dirty, wondering if God is upset because our stories contain so much darkness. We stare at our notebooks or computer screen and ask, “Did I just cross the line?”

In order to truly answer these questions, we must first trace darkness to its root. Why do we include evil in our stories at all? Most would quickly respond, “Because we have to! Stories would be lame and boring without darkness and evil. Nobody would read them.”

But why?

It turns out, the answer is really simple. With the possible exception of survival and “man versus nature” genres, all stories depend upon sin, darkness, and evil to create conflict. If you have good, it seems perfectly natural to have evil come up against it. Christian and non-Christian authors are all in agreement with this idea. Though some authors might protest my word choice, their work testifies to the fact that stories rely on a moral battle to create conflict and generate plot. [Read more…]

Blurring the Lines Between Light and Darkness

By Melody Faith

Writing or reading a dark book can be a very debatable topic for Christians. How dark is too dark? How much gore is too much? It has gone back and forth for years.

Recently, I read an interview with Ted Dekker discussing the darkness in his writing. He explains why he feels the need for it. He wants a distinct difference between good and evil in his stories. He wants readers to look at evil and be repulsed by it while they look at good and see the beauty in it. I found this to be a masterful way of describing how to handle darkness in Christian stories. blurringpinterest

Today’s media and pop culture really likes to blur the lines.

Disney’s 2014 retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, Maleficent, is an interesting example. The story portrays Maleficent as the protagonist, while King Stefan as the villain. I personally found it to be very confusing and down-right disturbing. I struggled to find a character to like, pity, or care about. I really despised all of them, even though I knew they wanted us to love Maleficent. I had a hard time pitying her. She was evil. She chose to be evil and did wicked things. None of this was addressed as wrong; you were simply pressed to pity her.

Another example for this is Tim Burton’s 1993 Nightmare Before Christmas. While I adored the music and the simple story, I was disturbed by the twisted worldview. It portrays Halloween characters, who in themselves are not evil. They simply do their job every October 30th. But for some odd reason, no one likes the Boogie man. He is bad, and they mean really bad. It struck me as so odd. Who was to say he was worse than Jack? Where was the line? Jack the Pumpkin King was the one you cared about and loved, even though he was in fact a skeleton and the King of Halloween. But the Boogie man, though he was like any other evil Halloween character, was still the evil villain. Our hero and villain were both evil characters. A cute, creative story, but a twisted perspective.
[Read more…]