The scar-faced brute tortures the scrawny man hanging upside down in that dark bunker. His high pitched screams echo from the naked walls. Still, he has made up his mind. He won’t reveal the location of the little girl. Not even when the long knife digs into his skin, right above his navel, slowly carving through all layers of the epidermis to reach his…
Hmmm… Have you ever thought how easily we writers come up with bloodthirsty agendas and terrors? What does that tell you about us if we so effortlessly evoke heartbreaking dramas and true anguish? We only do it to make a story interesting, to build more contrast, to make the hero’s journey truly memorable. I mean really worth it.
Sometimes my own fictitious realities I come up with are so vivid, I cry with my characters, hold my chest and apologize. ‘I’m so sorry. So sorry.’ I whisper, hammering away on my keyboard. ‘It can’t be helped…’ I weep, then shrug and laugh a little, helpless but entertained. And drunk from my power.
Well, the writers pen is a weapon indeed. The scary part is the mastermind lives on, even once the pen is put down (or the notebook shut). Quietly the writer sits, all safe and sincere and unsuspected, behind flowery curtains, an office desk or in parent meetings.
I wonder, being a writer, if my mind is capable of the monstrosities I put my characters through, can I still believe in my own innocence? Am I the witness or the creator?
Let’s see. I slice them open, let children get killed or let them find a weapon (they make the best victims and villains), abandon the most loyal friend to deepen the shock of betrayal, allow the villain to gain advances and put the heroes through the wringer. Oh delicious death, magnificent pain. Let all morals be damned and the horrors of hell unleashed… Man, we writers do worship the devil. After all, we lend him many thoughts, pages and hours of our life and dance with him, or her, through rather sultry nights.
But maybe we are here to learn from the pain we inflict. Hm, really? Is the heroes journey truly reflecting my own, or am I an all powerful god and am beyond the need for transformation? To clear it up: I am playing god, and sure as hell, I relish the sensation of yielding swords, and war and magic, while slurping on my blueberry smoothie, clumsily wiping my chin.
Why? Because I can.
Ask any writer. Are we modest, are we virtuous, are we nice? No.
It is too delicious to play all parts, and I assure you, especially the violent ones. Oh, such joy to render heroes helpless, to drag them through the mud, to bring them to their breaking point, to then finally, maybe, while they are bleeding from the chest, let them rise from the ashes (by the way, how heavy does a boulder need to be to break a leg but not crush the bones?).
Sure, the final triumph is a given. I mean who doesn’t feel a little betrayed when a movie ending is left open where no one has really won? In the end we allow the hero to find the grail, or at least a map to it. We grant the heroine peace with her losses, lend her a bed to rest (but only made of straw) and indicate some light at the end of the… unless we plan a sequel.
No, I am convinced, to give birth to horrors, to drive the daggers home, deep, and then still allow the sun to shine, and the villain to laugh, is evil. We quiet, rather boring writers, are the real monsters. The Hannibal Lectors of the suburbs, the Darth Vadars of the average Jos, the Voldemorts of fundraisers at school (no, I don’t have to tell you that those muffins are poisoned).
And what would happen if we didn’t play the devil? The world of fiction would only have fat angels, lazy elves and stumbling, lost heroes who play some chess, too heavy for Quidditch. Simply not worth writing about. Am I right?
So yeah, we love the dark side.
It’s an evil necessity.
As long as we own it.