Great stories often touch upon dark topics that can be difficult to write about. The presence of dark topics often adds richness to the story, and expands and adds dimension to the characters, making the story a seamless whole. In other words, sometimes, you need to handle the dark topics because the story and the plot require it. Dark topics prevail in thriller and mystery books, but lately, a lot of YA authors include them in their YA stories as well. Today, dark topics attract a lot of readers, for various different reasons, which makes it imperative that your story is handled carefully. You want to create an experience for the readers, show them elements of our world they might have not been aware of previously. And other readers might have gone through the exact experience you’re describing. Below, you will find several ways you can use to handle dark topics in your stories, as well as things you need to pay close attention to.
1. Strong determination
Before you start your story or decide to touch upon (or thoroughly explore) dark topics, you need to be aware that you will write about the darkest aspects of human nature. You might create villains and antagonists that are vile, and your characters will probably suffer significant psychological and maybe even physical trauma. You need to be certain that these are things you want to write about, and that you’re not using dark topics to create characters with troubled pasts just because it might make them more interesting.
2. Honesty and respect
Darkness can be found anywhere and in anyone. You don’t need to look far to find it. Evil deeds can happen to anyone, true, and when you’re including it in your story, you need to treat everything about it with the utmost respect, both to the readers and the characters in your story that have suffered the ordeal. Follow the nature of the story you’re writing – is it about the act itself or its consequences? For example, if the focus is on the consequences, then you should stray from being too graphic, and focus more on your character’s physical and psychological wellbeing, and how they have been affected.
3. Make it real
When it comes to writing about topics that are gritty, dark and possibly unpleasant to read, it is possible to make the mistake of minimizing the effect in order to write a more pleasant story. However, this takes away some of the realness of the story, and the readers will not find it plausible, and worse, they will probably not empathize and connect with your characters. Instead, they will perceive that the topic has not been properly developed and handled. In other words, once you decide to go down that path, you need to go all in and not hold anything back. Considering that you might not have ever had a similar experience, you will need to put yourself into your character’s skin and experience it along with him/her.
4. Infuse the story with emotion
Once you’ve put yourself into your character’s skin and felt everything he/she felt in your story, you need to show these emotions in your writing. Of course, your character might decide to avoid dealing with his/her emotions, and in that case, it is the avoidance that creates the impact. Emotions and characterization are the two key elements of every engaging story, but when it comes to stories dealing with dark topics, emotions take on a grander role. What your characters feel, their emotional control or lack of it dictates the story and becomes a focus for the readers – because they hope that your characters will be able to overcome the trauma and be at the very least on their way to happiness.
5. Find the light
The world is not just made out of darkness and evil. There is plenty of light in it, and in order to create a story that is both emotional and worthwhile, you will need to have your characters find it in the end. Otherwise, there is no balance in your story, and no matter which path your characters take on their road to recovery, unless your characters find the light at the end, your story becomes too dark and too gritty. Happiness is a lot stronger and has a greater impact on the readers if it comes after pages and pages of despair. There is also the matter of completion – a story where there is no resolution, where the struggle for the characters is not over, will not create an emotional experience for the readers that will feel worthwhile, and the story will be incomplete.
Image credit: Pixabay[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/photo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.