[Spoiler if you’ve not read the books or seen Season 4 of Game of Thrones]
I just watched Oberyn Martell die a very brutal death.
I’ve read the books, I knew he was doomed, but the detail as it was shown was a bit hard to stomach. And I couldn’t quite remember from the book how exactly he died, though I knew it was during the duel with The Mountain.
I felt compelled to hold my tablet arm’s length and avert my eyes, glancing back furtively. It was too gruesome.
I really like “The Song of Ice and Fire”. It’s a tremendous series. I’d love to reread it to actually get a better idea of the quality of the writing. I’ve not paid enough attention to that the last time around.
As it happens, I’ve been thinking about the dark side of writing the last few days. The brutality in Game of Thrones is certainly dark. Many unnecessarily violent acts are committed and described in detail. It’s not for the faint-hearted.
Some of Neil Gaiman’s shorts stories are also disturbingly dark. I’ve mentioned before that I have called him a bastard upon finishing those stories. Babycakes is one such story, Feeders and Eaters another.
Where do writers go to find such tales? And why?
There’s light and there is dark, with plenty of shadows in between. Some shadows that give you relief from the bright light. Some shadows so deep you are afraid of the unseen hidden in it.
The human condition cannot be described, if you omit one or the other. So there has to be love and hope and dreams in our stories. As well betrayal, murder and misery.
We all have nightmares. We all have fears. Letting them out into the world is not an easy thing to do. How dark does your imagination get, how deep into the recesses of your soul must you reach to pull up those horrors?
I’ve never written anything violent. I’ve written of dark things, though. Needs must. Especially as a writer. It’s not all fun and games and dreamy romance.
The reader, of course, gets to choose what they wish to read. If fluffy romance is what you seek, you will most certainly find it. If you love Neil Gaiman, you will find an incredible spectrum of stories, some heart-warming and wonderful, others scurrilous or odd, and the disturbing ones that might make you want to throw your book against a wall in disgust. Might.
I am testing myself with every short story I write, with every novel idea that comes my way. Violence is not my path, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be darkness in the stories that find me.