My NaNoWriMo novel is a supreme mess. My goal this year was to hit 75,000 words in it before the end of November, but I only reached the basic 50,000 word goal before I just couldn’t go on any longer. The story had fallen flat all over the place, there were serious continuity errors between the manuscript and the rest of my novels, and there was one particular character who dragged me down into the depths of an evil I have never known in my novels.
When I first started my self-published writing career, I was writing young adult Christian fiction. I made sure not to include curse words in my manuscript, I made sure to keep the violence and graphic detail to an absolute minimum, and I stayed as far away from sexual content as I possibly could while (I thought) staying as true to the story as I could.
I don’t write young adult Christian fiction anymore. For most of the reasons I stated above. I find that many of the stories I write nowadays cry out to be told in their gritty – and sometimes graphic – truth. It’s why I label my work edgy Christian speculative fiction. It’s why, when I write, I allow the story to flow within wider parameters, only to be cleaned up and ‘refined’ during the actual editing process.
But something about this particular novel….
My main character, Salt, is a brand of evil I have never written of before. I came a little close when I wrote the characters of Alpha 1 and Strangeways Silver in my Black Earth series, but Salt goes far beyond those characters in terms of malice and lack of morals.
Something about Salt disturbs me.
Writing out Salt’s story, I’ve noticed the boundaries I usually write my villains in have gone missing. There’s no framework to base my character’s profile around. As I struggle with words to craft the origin story to one of my most sinister creations, I find myself in unknown territory, exploring different facets of human nature I was always too afraid to fathom in the earlier years of my writing career.
Salt’s story is forcing me to confront the evil residing within this man’s heart. It wants me to witness – whether I want to or not – what happens when a broken spirit, untamed rage, and psychotic brutality fuel a man’s motives.
I can’t look away. I won’t look away. I am the creator, and he is my creation. So I will take this road through this man’s heart of darkness. I’m not sure where it will lead me. All I know is that at the end of this road, I will have a story unlike any I have ever told.
I just hope I survive the journey.