Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Planting, Then Uprooting Seeds of Darkness

I am reading Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instrument series (they are fab- check them out). The YA paranormal books feature demon-killers who have a variety of tricks up their sleeves, one of which is a "witchlight": a smooth rock that fits in the palm of your hand that casts a strong light when the demon-killer (aka Shadowhunter) wills it to. At one point, the author refers to the witchlight as a "seed of darkness".

It got me to thinking about the seeds of darkness that we all have within us, things that we lock away, that we're ashamed of, or that we're insecure about, things we don't want other people to know.

Seeds of darkness make characters interesting.

When a character has a deep-rooted insecurity, it colors the way he sees the world, the way he reacts to good and bad; it becomes the basis of his motivations. Exposing these seeds that you've planted in a character forces him to confront the things he'd rather keep hidden and either triumph over them or be dominated by them. Because we all have seeds of darkness within, we can relate to the pain the character is going through, which brings us closer and makes us fall in love with the book.

When you're working on character development, think of what seeds your hero or heroine has rooted down deep inside, what insecurities, failings, fears, and worries make up his or her past. Then think about how you can bring those to light and force a confrontation. You might be surprised to find the process ends up being cathartic for you as well, as I have.

What "seeds of darkness" can you think of that we can saddle a character with? Share your thoughts so that we can glean ideas!


  1. Awesome post, Cyndy! Really great way to look character.

  2. Yup, who wants to read about people with nothing in their closets, no baggage to stow, or no hidden meaning behind what they say? Layers, it's all about layers. And the more you have, the more tears that onion will draw when you finally cut it open.

    Jason McIntyre

  3. Jason- Parfaits have layers. (aw, come on, it had to be said!) hahahaha

    Seriously- nice comment!