Last week, while thinking about the “who” behind my inspiration, my mind took an interesting turn. So the theme for this week was borne: the importance of both light and darkness in writing. Today we’re talking about darkness.
This can be a tricky subject for Christians. We know what the Bible says—that “we are children of light and need to live as children of light” (that’s in Ephesians 5, I believe), but for right now, while we are on earth, we are exposed to darkness. It’s not fun. It hurts. We ache for the day that there will be no more darkness. But for now, it’s our reality.
I truly believe, that, as writers, we have a responsibility to authenticity. If we write stories that are all light, they lose an extra dimension, as if we were walking around at high noon without a shadow. That’s the point of conflict, right? To heighten the intensity of the story? Without conflict, it’s a flat plot. Maybe interesting to those who love us, but that won’t make the bookshelves.
Which begs the question: In the world yet to come, when we write, will our stories lack conflict because there is no darkness? That’s something I often wonder. Or, because we will remember what it was like on this side of things, do you think it will still have a presence in the things we create? I’d love to know your opinions of this!
The thing about darkness is that we all understand it. We weren’t supposed to—absolutely not. But we do. We know what it means to grieve, to struggle, to battle, and to be betrayed. We know how it feels to be lied to, stolen from, and hurt by others. We understand our depravity without Christ, weakness, and fear.
And we can use that to make an incredible story.
Over the past few years, I’ve literally seen God bring Psalm 30 to life: “You take my mourning and turn it into dancing; you take my sadness and turn it into joy.” That doesn’t mean that it’s gone completely. That doesn’t mean that I forget all about what happened to me and how it made me feel. It means that God brings restoration. He makes those things new. In the darkest night, He is the one who brings the light.
Darkness is an incredible tool for a writer. It’s probably my most favorite of all, something that made my classmates and professors at my small Christian college uneasy. When they wrote about style and syntax, I wrote on insanity and death. The darker the better. Because there’s a secret, you see. The greater the darkness, the more powerful is the smallest light. When you’re in a pitch black cave, a single match will illuminate it. When you’re emotionally in that grave, the tiniest ray of hope is brighter than a midsummer’s day.
One of my greatest influences is Edgar Allan Poe. I love his stories. I love his rhythm, I love his characters, and I love how he uses darkness in his stories. And that definitely carries over into my novels. My characters battle some pretty dark things. But the thing about Poe is that in his stories, darkness wins. There is very little, if any light. Very little grace, love, and hope. His stories are profound. They resonate simply because they are so hopeless.
Here’s the secret: any darkness, no matter how deep, when infused with faith, loses its power. Darkness should never get the glory. It’s only left as a contrast, as a testament to what had been—but what is not anymore.
A story about the incredible power and love of God.
Isn’t that what we write anyway?
8 hours ago