“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” (Og Mandino)
Let’s discuss light and darkness in writing for a few minutes. It’s been my experience that both are necessary in good fiction. You have a protagonist working toward some achievement, stretching toward the light, hoping to make life better somehow. You have his/her arch enemy, the antagonist, working toward the exact opposite. Light + Dark = Conflict. On-going conflict that reaches a resolution = a novel that will grip your readers.
I remember when I was first given permission to write about the dark side. I didn’t know how acceptable that was, or not. Of course, that is naive. But I wanted to be a good writer. Not just a good writer, but the very best that I could be. So, I explored the dark side of my mind. I had been taught to not think about things like that. Like a lot of little girls, I was expected to dwell on “sweetness and light.” Well, that is not very true to life. Blackouts may not be pleasant, but they certainly do provide perspective and balance. They also lend appreciation for the light.
I had read many books, but had not stopped to consider that light and darkness were most always involved in what I considered the good ones. I just knew if the book held my attention or not — if I loved the characters or just tolerated them — if I finished a book in one night, or tossed it aside.
Take a look at the books that you love. You may be well aware of the sparkle of the good versus the pits of blackness and despair or evil. If you are a writer, you have probably considered the impact this has upon your writing — being able to see both sides. If not, give it a shot. Like a gifted painter, your art will benefit from the carefully applied highlights and depth added through the shading.
When you read, do you prefer more “sweetness and light” or more of the dark side? Why?