Thursday, March 31, 2011

When Evil Enters

By Cheri Chesley

Last night, I did something I know I shouldn't do. I read the online news articles that caught my eye. I don't usually do this because the evil and depravity in the world really depresses me, and it tends to stick with me. One particular story I read really chilled me. I'll spare you the details, but it involved the live-streamed over the internet assault of a 2 yr old girl by her mother. Horrible.

We all know there is evil in the world, and things are going to get much worse before they get better. Signs of the times.

But, as a writer, I feel a particular obligation to write uplifting stories. Does that mean there is no evil in them? No. In fact, the book I just finished had a particularly depraved antagonist. The kind of sneaky, vile, stop-at-nothing bad guy. It's sort of a "higher the stakes, the greater the reward" story. That's the redeeming thing about fiction--the good guy can always win. I think we all want to believe that about life, which is why we find fiction so appealing. :)

Interestingly enough, I received a Priesthood blessing a year or so ago that directly addressed this in my writing. I could show evil for what it is; I didn't have to shy away from it, but could instead show the reality of evil in my stories. I've thought about that a great deal since then. And, like everyone, I hope I'm doing it right.

I'm sure none of this is news to other writers. We can't have good stories without conflict, so there must be some evil in them. But, while we don't have to show all the gory details, we shouldn't gloss over the effects of evil, or the potential for disaster.

After all, it's what makes a good story.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

I completely agree. There's also a way to show evil without getting too descriptive or gory. I think if evil isn't portrayed accurately, there's not as much of an impact when good triumphs over it.