Recently I have noticed a change in my writing. I'm drawn to the dark side.
It's ironic, really, as I've always been a sucker for a happy ending. But the twist, now there's the rub. The way a story hooks you in, and then dashes your expectations when you least expect it. I'm beginning to see how to use this, to play with the emotions of my readers. It's not a nice, safe world out there. There are monsters under the bed (although they may actually be more afraid of you than you are of them) and things that go bump in the night. The latter is usually just me tripping over the crap strewn around my room in the dark.
I've also been reading a lot of Angela Carter and Neil Gaiman. I love the way they take myths and fairytales and subvert them. We've been looking at narrative and genre recently in our Writers' Toolkit sessions doing a similar sort of thing. The idea is that you take the kernel events from a well-known story and then use them as a jumping off point for your own work. It was amazing how few markers we actually needed to identify stories that everyone is aware of, such as Little Red Riding Hood. We are all so familiar with the story that it takes very few references to realise we are reading a version of this tale. It's a great way to start thinking about stories.
Carrying on with the theme of cannibalism from one of our Writing Structure seminar, this week I've created a dark tale based on the Hansel & Gretel story. By using well-known tales as a starting point, the challenge is to weave the references from the original into the new version. I was amazed by the number of very different, inventive and engaging versions of the Icarus myth members of the group came up with. Makes you think....
That's what it's really all about. Anything that makes you think, makes you look at things in a different way. The possibilities are endless.