Writers, how do you deal with ‘dark subjects’?

After all this time, I still have been somewhat afraid to try fiction. I write non-fiction stuff on a pretty regular basis for a couple of places, but am dying to write fiction. However, in spite of the desire, not too many subjects have presented themselves in ways I think are original. So I finally came up with an idea, but it is so very, very dark and unsavory that I’m not sure if I can force myself to write about it.

First, doesn’t writing something dark with a horrendous theme take its toll on a writer? Can it depress you to a dangerous state of mind? Do readers think deep down you advocate or accept this type of behavior or that the concept is okay with the writer?

How do you write a long piece day after day without succumbing to a miserable attitude and outlook due to your subject matter? These are questions more mature writers may have dealt with long ago, but for a beginner of fiction, they seem troubling. I would love to hear comments from writers who regularly deal with taboo or horrific subjects( are there any in these modern times?)I wonder how to keep your equilibrium and sanity while exploring a subject so distasteful you can barely think about it.

I am at the core a fairly sensitive person in regards to others’ plight. I support and volunteer and attempt to make the world right in very small ways, but feel the weight of the world on me sometimes and cannot bear all the bad news I hear. My faith is all that helps me get through the inhumanity of man to man,for example.

I cringe and shed tears about the abuse shown children, women and pets. Of course, I feel the same about inhumane and abusive treatment to anyone and feel I must make my part of the world better for others.

You all may think me naive and a soft-heart-ed fool who could never cover a horrible and disgusting topic in a realistic way, but I do feel strongly about what I am contemplating writing.

Please help with your comments?



2 thoughts on “Writers, how do you deal with ‘dark subjects’?

  1. Have you ever read Proust? There is nothing “dark” in it in the sense you suggest with words like horrific, horrible, and disgusting. And yet it explores “darker” places honestly and so vividly I have cried at reading developments. Proust is on my mind and his unmatched courage at looking at all which affects him with such honesty and clarity and precision. You cannot write about what you do not love, or at least accept as in the human pale. This means accepting the dark and horrific is as much a part of you and your common bond with your species as the light and beatific. If you can love a villain, you can understand Iago himself, and his villainy can be your subject. The question you have asked is whether this darkness is in you. It is. If you will accept it, you can write about the dark as safely as the light.


  2. Thanks so much for your encouraging words. As in regards to Proust, I believe I read something as a young person, but have not added him to my classic studies so far. I will start to now. What you have said about him may be helpful.I am sensitive and feel things very deeply and was afraid to go to far into the dark. I recognize that evil is possible in all of us, though what I am contemplating is so awful that I fear getting lost in it or overcome
    by it. Am I wrong to believe that to write well, you must feel things in a profound way?


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