All right! So far, so good. I’ve reached a hundred posts already? In fact, I just did.
In this special post, I’m going to share my views about writing stories with disturbing content. This is in celebration of my first novella Season Of Darkness which was written and finished by me, Keihancarl, five years ago. All this and more, right here in this 100th post.
Since I finished my first novella Season Of Darkness five years ago, I was quite worried of the reader’s reactions to the story. Well, I had a hard time finishing the story due to the story’s disturbing ending. I began writing the said novella back in September 2009 and finished it around April or May 2010. I’m a second year college student back then, and I never imagined that I could write (and finish) such a tragic story at that age.
That was followed by another novella The Madcap two years later. Originally intended to be a morbid tale entitled Nightmares, I decided to tone down such disturbing elements and make it a real survival story instead of the supposedly tragic ending.
Back in 2007, I started writing a morbid story entitled Nightmares, which remains unfinished as of this writing. I did rewrite the unfinished story years later under a new title (The Madcap), but then I decided to change the intended ending of the story for two reasons: One, the ending was way too morbid–just imagine a lead character stabbing himself in the chest with a rusted blade; and two, I don’t want every story to end with a lead character taking his own life due to misery and depression, that would sound redundant (not to mention the fact that I don’t want to kill my characters for this purpose–that might sound horrible).
The following year, I wanted to start a series that deals with a lot of topics including angst, violence, self-harm and personal struggles. But then, I still haven’t finished a thing, just a few chapters. Among these stories I wanted to rewrite in the future is a story of the unwanted child, banished from the house because of his brother’s death and ended up living alone in an old bungalow, despite the young age. He was living a depressing life, slitting his wrist and trying to smile, as if he never had a problem… and later hanged himself due to unbearable loneliness. I did try to rewrite this story with various titles, from White Ribbon (symbolizing innocence) to A Matter Of Trust (a more appropriate title, if that character didn’t die in the end).
In March 2009, I wrote a short story entitled Wasted Chances, which was the second one published on my former blog The Kin Keihan Times (the first one is Sadness Within). It featured a 14-year-old boy named Elliot, an orphan. He lost both his parents and his three siblings in an accident, leaving him depressed and devastated that he wanted to die. Though his friend Allandra keep asking him to live his life to the fullest, he went on ahead and decided to kill himself by means of heading straight to a speeding truck.
Since then, I’m working on my first novella, Season Of Darkness. I began writing the said novella September that year and finished it by May 2010. It then featured an orphan named Elliot “Blink” Youden, living with a foster family and enduring a lot of personal struggles that involved acceptance, bullying and depression until he decided to kill himself a week before his birthday… so much for a disturbing ending.
Why write such dark, gruesome and depressing stories? Why can’t I write some funny, humorous story with a wacky ending?
Well actually, I don’t limit myself to writing unusually dark and depressing stories, in fact I can write stories involving comedy and romance. But then, I’m more into writing stories featuring serious and dramatic content, at times incorporating dark elements in these stories just because they seem more realistic. I mean, I’m not that cheesy enough to write romantic stories, and I can’t make people laugh hard enough to write funny stories.
Oh, and by the way, regarding the names of my characters… well, I’m fond of creating unusual and hard-to-pronounce names (like in the case of my pseudonym Keihancarl Oikou Xiaucham or the main character Elliot “Blink” Youden from Season Of Darkness), a product of my strange imagination.
Well, what makes a good, dark, angst-ridden story? From the main characters up to the ending, here’s the guide according to me, KCOX:
The Main Character(s)–The people involved in the story. I always make up names, especially the family name to make it sound more fictional. Looks don’t matter… but in my stories, I always prefer guys with glasses, generally of slight build, spiky or short hair, and always well-dressed (usually wearing all-black or combination of black-red and black-gray). They either tend to be the good one (kind of shy and cheerful, but deep inside he was anxious and lonely) or the bad one (usually judgmental and insensitive, much like he’s losing hope, but there’s still a little bit of kindness left in him and that led him to either change his attitude or lose it and become completely devoid of sympathy). They are always silent or are not talking too much, leading to the curiosity of the supporting/secondary characters. Usually, the main character is the one being made fun of, bullied, humiliated, abandoned, beaten up, abused, orphaned [and at times, adopted], at a loss [over someone’s death]… and of course, deprived of a chance to live in happiness. Because of their unbearable suffering, they often resort to self-harm or seeking revenge against people (who were behind the main character’s suffering).
The Setting–The story can happen at any time you wish. As for the place, it doesn’t always have to be a dilapidated old house or a neat dwelling along the alley filled with rubbish or rubble. Well, depending on the situation, the location could be a nice, comfortable home or an old campus with creepy-looking buildings and dark hallways.
The Emotion–Typically sad and depressing, invoking angst and dread. Of course, some stories doesn’t have to be too depressing for you to leave you in tears, just a slight of it is okay.
The Scenes (Past)–It may involve some violent and heart breaking situations such as false accusations, a death of a close friend/loved one, and so on. These can be best interpreted as flashbacks, though these may be included in the prologue/first few chapters of the story.
The Scenes (Present)–These may contain confrontations, hatred, revenge, severe violence, survival, near-death situations, recovery, and so on. I might say that these are the typical elements found in these dark (and depressing) stories.
The Ending–It can be a happy ending or a tragic ending. It depends on the intentions of the writer of the story.
Now that I featured my passion for writing stories with dark and disturbing content, I know that I might garner praise or criticism for my work. If that is the case, then I’m sure there are others too. But no matter how dark and disturbing your story is, what matters is that you get to show your craft by means of expression through literature.
As for Season Of Darkness, it’s still a work in progress and I’m planning to do a lot of revisions to it, probably in the future. But in the meantime, here are some excerpts. Take note that these excerpts are slightly edited for this purpose, the original work can be found here.
Season Of Darkness, Chapter 20
One afternoon, he ran into Mr. Hawklien at the riverside park. Mr. Hawklien was walking his dog on the trail, which become his daily habit. From the look in Blink’s face, he knew what’s going on with him.
“My, is that you Blink?” Mr. Hawklien asked, quite surprised at his expression. “But what happened to you?”
They walked a bit and finally found a place to sit down and talk.
“You know all about Tim, am I right?” Blink asked wistfully as he took off his glasses, revealing a bleak look on his eyes.
“Yes, but why?” Mr. Hawklien asked, this time he was a bit worried.
Blink lay down on the mead, looking at the red-orange sky. “He took his own life at the age of thirteen. That’s because of depression. I had read some of his journals and maybe, by the way he wrote his feelings in there, it is concluded that he was a poor victim of injustice.”
Mr. Hawklien sighed. “But not all the time Blink. Remember, there are certain times that he was happy. Of course, with a bunch of friends. It seems like they all turned their backs on him.”
“I see then.”
“You seem to be affected.”
“Maybe. I’m afraid that one day, they’ll soon turn their backs on me. I experienced that once, and I don’t think I’m going to survive the next one.”
“It’s not going to happen, Blink. If it does then it’s a matter of choice between destruction and survival. It’s in you, your decision counts.”
Blink looked down and nodded.
“So I guess that explains that Tim chose destruction…”
“But not all people who chose destruction would rather kill themselves by any means. It could also mean moving out of school, moving out of town… or perhaps, having insanity.”
Blink sighed heavily as he put his glasses back on.
“There’s no point in committing suicide, you hear? That could put your family into a bigger problem.”
“I didn’t say that I wanted to end it all.”
“Well, just hope that everything will be fine for you. If I were you, I would choose survival.”
A few minutes of silence followed.
“Well, I guess that’s all for today,” Blink said as he slowly got up.
“Blink, through all these times, we were so much worried about you… me and my wife. I doubt you will ever make it through this strife. But then, one day, you will find a way to get out of this room filled with troubles and problems. And living a perfect life.”
Blink nodded as though he understand everything.
Season Of Darkness, Chapter 21
It later occurred to the family that Blink was facing the same fate as Tim’s. They noticed some familiar characteristics in him, and they started to worry, not knowing what to do next.
It’s only a month before Blink’s birthday, and the family had decided to plan for their son’s celebration. But how are they going to plan such celebration with Blink in such distress?
One October morning, as Mr. Hieister drove Blink to school, he noticed something right in his son’s eyes. Something beneath Blink’s glasses was a wistful look, a sign of despondence. Mr. Hieister tried to talk to his son for a moment but he held back. He doesn’t want his son to take in any more of something that would remind him of his depressive past.
As Blink got off the car, he simply waved at his dad, and then went inside the campus.
When Blink reached the classroom, he looked for his seat and took off his glasses. He certainly looked like Tim, others were shocked to see someone who looked and acted like Tim. Some of them were a bit terrified.
Mr. Rockfield noticed Blink at the middle of the crowd of desks. He seemed pretty concerned about his student.
“Is something bothering you, Mr. Hieister?”
He shook his head and only smiled.
“I see then,” Mr. Rockfield said affectionately, then he returned to his lecture.
Reaching the 100th post, this is yet another milestone for TWATKcox. Once again, we’re hoping to continue bringing more informative articles and stories about experiences and interests as time progresses. And we’re looking forward to reaching another milestone for this blog… and maybe reaching its fifth year in the cyberspace in three years’ time. Let’s look forward to it, shall we?