Recently I read a fascination discussion on Facebook. A reader wanted to know: does writing dark stories affect the writer’s soul? It’s a question that deserves an answer. I hope you find my answer interesting.
There are several presumptions in this question. The first is that dark stories are bad for or a danger to one’s soul. The second is that fiction can affect one’s soul. The third is that writers have souls. And the final one is that the writer should think about his or her soul while writing.
Are Dark Stories Dangerous?
To whom? To my soul? Short answer—no. Longer answer… it’s fiction. I’m old enough and wise enough to know reality from fiction. Right from wrong.
Dark stories are dark because we need to deal with the demons of our imagination and our realities. The stories that have a happy ending where good overcomes evil reassures us. Stories that have a not so happy ending show us possibilities. Help us remember that evil is evil and doing wrong has a cost.
Can Dark Fiction Affect Your Soul?
Everything you do, say, act out affects your soul. If you understand and can differentiate between fiction and reality, your soul is safe. In fact, if you believe that good can overcome evil. That you can overcome evil. That right is right and wrong is wrong. I believe some fiction can help strengthen your soul, your beliefs.
Are there people dark fiction can adversely affect? I don’t believe so. There are people who make bad choices. They already had the ability and desire to make those choices before they read anything. Those choices come from the entire person. From what they were born with and into. If there’s no moral center—all bets are off. But the lack of a moral center doesn’t come from reading dark fiction. It comes from a lack inside and a lack of parents or a loving, caring environment. Maybe he’s an orphan or she had parents also lacked a moral center or they were born into a harsh life that left them with only bad choices. In those cases, the individual is looking for reinforcement of their belief system. Whatever that is.
If writing or reading dark fiction has the power to affect us—does other fiction affect us? Are romance writers more likely to have bad romances? Crime writers more likely to commit crimes? Do writers who write about war cause wars? I could go on, but you get the idea.
Do Writers Have Souls?
Some of them. (Hee-hee.)
Seriously, writers are always people first. If you believe people have souls—then so do writers.
Don’t let yourself forget that writers are people. Don’t put us on pedestals or label us as drunks or wild and crazy. We are individuals. Each with our own beliefs and our own preferences for genre and level of darkness within our stories. And we each have our own preferred topics and taboo topics.
Should a Writer Think about Her Soul While Writing?
I can only answer this one for myself. (See the previous topic.)
One of my mentors told me that every story I would ever write was already inside me and all I had to do was transcribe them. I wish it were that easy. But it’s true that the ideas come from some place inside of me. Every word I write reflects at least a small part of who I am, who I think I could be, or who I wish I were. Beast and heroes that I’ve glimpsed or imagined.
Writing is a part of me. When I cannot write, I am incomplete and unhappy. And unfortunately, I often make people around me unhappy.
I don’t consciously think about my soul while writing anything. No matter how darkly I view the story world I write, or how dastardly the villain, I always know that it’s a story. Yes, sometimes I am surprised by a dark turn. Sometimes it is difficult to write the level of darkness that will give the story power. And sometimes I grow to understand and maybe even like the fictitious evil or the bad guys I write. It does not change who I am, who I believe myself to be, or what I believe is right and wrong. And no matter what I say here, you’ll make up your own mind.
I believe I have a soul. I believe I’m a mostly good person. Of course, I may be the wrong person to make that judgment. I write some dark stories. I don’t think about what impact it may or may not have on my soul. The stories I write reflect my fears—Everyone can do the wrong or evil thing under the right circumstances. And it reflects my optimism—Most people are mostly good. And the mostly good do mostly good. Finally, they reflect my moral center. When the good don’t win, they tried as hard as they could. And that’s what counts.
Now you have the long and the short of does writing dark stories affect the writer’s soul? At least from my perspective. And only from my perspective. What do you think?