I know it seems I’ve been ignoring you lately. I’m sorry, but I’ve been busy writing the sequel to my book.
To be successful at this writing game, you’ve got to give us something we’ve never seen before. You must give us something that is almost unbelievable in the extremes of what happens inside your story. To do this, you have to get in touch with whatever searing fire burns within you… your demons.
For a drama to succeed… you have to nearly be embarrassed to give it to someone to read. You have to be fearful they’re going to say, “What sick, twisted, bent-up mind created this mind-blowing story?” That’s what everyone fears. But what people don’t realize is that the reader is not going to associate the content with your life, your soul, your psychological mix ups. The reader is only going to say, “Wow! How did you think up all this amazing stuff?”
What is it that upsets you? What is it you’re frightened off? What is it you think, feel, worry about, wonder about… that you hope and pray no one ever discovers? What is going on inside the seething fire in your belly, that is so dark, so private, so awful, so terrifying that you don’t want anyone to know it exists inside you? That is the very thing that you have to write about. Because if you’re not getting in touch with your demons, if you’re not pushing the story as far as you possibly can in the direction of near-unbelievability, then the reader is not going to be interested.
The reader wants to be taken where she’s never been before. No one has ever been inside your library of horrors. So open it up for the world. Run the risk of being embarrassed. Run the risk of selling something.
If you’re writing about details from your own life, you have to risk upsetting the people who know you. I have a novelist friend. He published a story about something extraordinarily personal. When it came out, his brother was so angry, he didn’t speak to him for a year. Be willing to run that risk. If you are a writer, you are a writer. Family and friends beware.
Looking into yourself can be painful and difficult. Figuring out the awful things that squirm around inside you can either be frightening or useful. Or both! But, if you are writing something intense, you better go on and make it intense. Don’t be shy. Don’t push to the doorway at the edge of the chasm and then not open that door and jump through.
Your demons are there, waiting to help you. Use them. It’s about all they’re good for.