"Darkness called... but I was on the phone, so I missed him. I tried to star-69 Darkness, but his machine picked up. I yelled, 'PICK UP THE PHONE, DARKNESS,' but he ignored me. Darkness must have been screening his calls." --Demon Hunter, WarCraft III
Lots of people who know me probably wouldn't believe this, but I like dark and creepy stuff. Give me the things that go bump in the night, especially if there's nothing there when you go to look. The subtle scares are my favorite, the ones you have to think about for a bit, and it's terrifying once you realize what's really going on. This is part of why I like the Cosmic Horror sort of stories from and inspired by Lovecraft - when the terror is partly primal and partly psychological, where the real darkness is undefineable and undefeatable.
As a side note, have you read Neil Gaiman's Coraline? Creepiest fucking thing I've ever read. O_O And it's, like, a middle grade book. Damn.
Anyway, like most if not all authors, I want to write what I want to read, so I've spent quite a bit of time trying to develop stories in this direction. I've written several plots that deal with unfathomable beings and their effects on the world. I've put characters into places where they unleashed the horrors, or where they're dealing with having to appease those horrors every certain number of years, or where they're trying to fight against those horrors in an eventually futile struggle. I created apple spiders.
And not a single one of those stories has ever worked out.
This has been frustrating, as I'm sure you can imagine. I know not everything I try to write will work out, but I should be able to write what I want to read, right? That's one of the most common pieces of writing advice. So not long ago, determined to get past this particular block, I sat down and hammered out a plot for a story that I thought would be everything I wanted to write in this direction.
Once I was done with it, it depressed me so, so much. When I looked at it again, I felt no desire to work on it at all. I was about to toss it aside as another failed project, when I started thinking, wait, why didn't this work? Why did I spend so much time putting this plot together only to despair over it once it was done?
Appropriately enough, it dawned on me: it was the darkness in the story that was bringing me down.
Part of why people often don't believe me when I say I like creepy stuff is that I'm generally a positive person. (Unless I'm depressed, in which case I'm apparently hilarious because I come off as a bitter version of Eeyore.) I realized that I need that positivity in my writing. I need the struggle against the darkness to not be futile. I need adventure, I need friendship, and I need hope.
Even if it's not forever, damn it, I need a happy ending.
Two good things have come out of this. First, I'm no longer struggling to write something that's not working for me. Second, I repurposed the entire plot, rebuilt the world (nothing like coming up with world ideas talking to yourself out loud while dusting (don't give me that look, I don't get on your case about how you get your ideas)), and have been reforging that story into something new. It's going really well so far; I'm deep enough into the plot that it's still surprising me where it's going and I can't wait to see how it all comes together in the end.
It is, of course, an incredible relief to have something good come out of this, as I was in dire need of having something go right in my writing life.
Next entry: a character experiment.