Last week I talked about the fact that people who write dark things don’t have to be dark people. When I saw the above quote/picture, I felt it was a good follow-up.

Granted, it’s not directly related to writing, at least not at first blush. The life application, however, is obvious. Hatefulness is a waste of energy and entirely nonproductive. There’s no point in even arguing the contrary, it’s so plainly evident. But like so many other pearls of wisdom, if it’s applicable to life, it’s applicable to writing.

Your characters have to be hateful at times. There’s no getting around that. You do not.

Not the fiction can’t include negative themes. It’s the shadows that call attention to the light. There has to be darkness–in our characters, our plots, and even our messages. But there is a darkness that’s hateful, and there’s a darkness that draws our eyes to the flame. I prefer the second to the first.

No matter what kind of fiction you write (yes, even horror), there is always an opportunity to allude to hope. Maybe not for the characters in your tale, but certainly for the reader. It all comes back to your message.

A few years ago a friend recommended I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell by Tucker Max, telling me only that it was funny. The book chronicles his sexual adventures, which are juvenile at best. Basically, it paints the picture of a guy who sees women as conquests. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass about how they feel–only how they can make him feel. (One specific part of him, in particular.)

The book was funny at times, but I didn’t finish it. I didn’t want to. Halfway through, I’d had more than enough of Tucker Max. He was depicted as a selfish, hateful asshole, and his stories, true or not, were negative to the core. It didn’t matter that his intent was to make the reader laugh. Hate is hate. His message was simple. Get your rocks off, everyone else be damned.

I don’t want my stories to convey that kind of message. Even when I’m spinning the darkest possible horror tale, I never want to endorse hate. I want to point people toward the light, though sometimes they may have to step over corpses to get there.

The world is full of hate while there are precious few beacons of hope. If your fiction can be one such beacon, run with that.


About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

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