D is for Dark

Dare to go dark.

When I say that, what I mean is, dare to go into the darkest parts of the human soul.  Dig up the hard to deal with topics.  Let the character experience their darkest moment.


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What do I mean by letting the character have a dark moment?  A dark moment is the point where the character hits rock bottom.  It is when the crap hits the fan, and the character has nothing else to lose.

Now, I don’t use this technique in every book I write.  Some books are lighter reads than others.  So I wouldn’t say this applies to every story.  But there are probably going to be some stories you’ll write that will lend themselves to exploring the darker side of the human experience.

We’ve all been to the point at some time in our lives where we are down in the pit of despair.  Nothing seems to go right.  We feel as if everyone and everything is against us.  We feel as if we’re all alone.  No matter how much we try to explain our pain to others, they really don’t get it.  Worse, it feels as if they don’t care.  If you’ve ever felt this way, then this is the feeling you need to tap into when you give your character their dark moment.

Letting your character go through this can be a painful experience.  (It’s hard to watch our creation suffer.)  But sometimes it’s exactly what the book needs. I fought a certain plot point for years because it was so dark.  I hated putting my character through it.  I tried to write the book in other ways to spare my character the level of that much pain.  But each time I did it, the book fell flat.  I hit a wall where I couldn’t go further into the story.  No amount of forcing things to go my way was going to work.  Finally, I gave up and gave the character the dark moment.  And it worked.  All at once, the story fell into place, and I was able to finish it.

Sometimes you just have to go through the deep valley with your character.  So instead of fighting it, embrace it.  Let the worst case scenario happen and see how things evolve from there.  The results just might surprise you, as it did me.  I honestly think the book I mentioned above is one of my best works.

And remember, just because you have a dark moment in your book, it doesn’t mean there can’t be a happy ending.  Sometimes the ending is that much better after the character overcomes the darkness.

This post is part of the Blogging from A – Z Challenge.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to https://ruthannnordinsbooks.wordpress.com/.
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8 Responses to D is for Dark

  1. Juli Hoffman says:

    Sometimes the happy endings have more weight and meaning because of the dark murky moments in the middle. 😉

  2. Lorna Faith says:

    I love this series of blog posts, Ruth 🙂 And your topic today is one I really struggle with. I have a tough time putting my main character through a really dark or scary place. You give great advice here: “Letting your character go through this can be a painful experience. (It’s hard to watch our creation suffer.) But sometimes it’s exactly what the book needs.” So that’s what I’m going to do – I’m going to try that today – and let her go to that really painful experience and see how the story evolves from there. Thanks again Ruth for a very useful post!

    • Let me know how it works for you and your character.

      I hate putting my characters through the really hard issues. I think part of it is fear that I won’t be able to do the subject matter justice. You don’t want to gloss over it because it is a dark issue, but you also don’t want to overdo it to the point where the reader starts rolling their eyes. It’s definitely a balance, and I’m still trying to figure it out.

  3. Dark moments are hard to write. Sometimes you just feel emotionally drained after writing it. But it can really make a character interesting.

    • That’s why Wagon Trail Bride was so hard to write. I was glad when I finally reached the end. The next books in the series aren’t like that. They’re more of what I usually do.

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