Inner Darkness

Christine Sutton

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To be, or not to be? That is the question.....

Posted on July 21, 2012 at 3:30 PM

I have been arduously working on a new project. I don't have a title, or an outline, or a clear idea of where this story is going. I am flying by the seat of my pant on this one.
The thing is, I really like this story so far. Even though the main character is a whack-job of the highest degree, he is MY whack-job. I have been pouring my heart into creating a person that is violently flawed, and hopefully, mildly sympathetic.
What is sort of freaking me out, is the fact that it has been pretty easy for me to describe violent, terrible acts that are perpetrated against the victims with impunity. I have actually sort of been enjoying it, while simultaneously surprising myself with my own level of viciousness and malice as portrayed on the page.
I know, as a writer that it is important for me to somewhat immerse myself in the project that I am working on, but to what level? Do I start people watching? Do I begin thinking of the best way to get away with it? Does my brain begin to develop my own personal modus operandi?
When does fiction begin to mirror reality? When does reality bleed into fiction?
Now, slow your roll, people. I am in no way confessing to any hidden desires or mental issues. I am not currently considering killing any hookers or homeless people, or any other people for that matter. I actually consider myself to be a tiny bit more sane than many people that I encounter. But then again, isn't that exactly what a crazy person would say?
I apologize for my random meanderings, but I really do have a point.
As a reader, how important is it to your suspension of disbelief that the characters on the page be totally authentic? Would it be better for an author to gloss over some of the more grisly details, or would you rather be right in the thick of it, so to speak?
I sometimes find that I consider censoring myself in my writing, because I am momentarily troubled by the idea that I have written something that might offend. Now, I'm not talking offend as in "Ooh, that was a bit offside." , I'm talking offend as in, "What the fuck am I reading? Why isn't this crazy bitch locked up in a looney bin somewhere?".
I have never released anything to date that really qualifies as the latter, but this upcoming release might just fit the bill. Some of my loyal readers might be a little bit surprised, but then again, maybe not.

So, this brings me back to my original question. What is more important, grisly realism or a horrible story glossed over and wrapped in a neat little bow? Is the story better if you know that the author pours all of their own angst, pain and discomfort into the tale they are telling? Do you, loyal reader, feel cheated if your writer is not immersed in the method, but only writes for profit, fame or notoriety? Does it make them a fraud or a phony? Would it dampen your enjoyment of a story if you knew for a fact that the author in question was cavalier in their attitude towards writing? Or do you even care?

 

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