As writers, we’re urged to write from the heart. If we search the innermost corners of our heart, what might we find? What might any of us find? Writing gives us an excuse to go to the deeper, darker parts of our heart, to dig deep and bring out parts that are buried deep. The parts that are kept hidden from everyday life, the parts we never reveal.
Is there anyone who has never done anything they regret, something they’d rather no-one knew, something to keep hidden? Who hasn’t lost someone dearly loved, and felt pain too sharp and intense to bring out and expose to the daylight?
These deepest parts of our hearts are part of life for all of us. Until you experience them you haven’t truly lived.
As writers we have the opportunity to reveal these hidden parts of our hearts under the pretext of imagination. And it’s the knowledge of life we gain from the secrets lurking in the recesses of both heart and mind that add poignancy to a story. Even the most light-hearted tale benefits from a dollop of darkness. Too much sweetness and light is cloying.
Don’t we all love a villain? Don’t we revel in dastardly deeds? In the old-time melodramas the audience were encouraged to cheer the hero and hiss the villain. And they loved it! Don’t we all love a sad story? “It was wonderful – I cried all the way through it!” That used to be the catch-cry for the old sob-story movies. Is today’s reader so much different from those old-time audiences?
It’s the interplay of light and shadow that creates a story. And the blacker the shadow, the more intriguing the story. But that darkness must be real, it must come from the heart, because readers aren’t easily fooled. They can tell the real deal.
Are we all willing to bring out those buried secrets and expose them to the light of day? Or is that perhaps why we love to write – the opportunity to reveal so much of ourselves under the guise of fiction?