So, recently I’ve jumped genres. Not just a little skip-type jump, but a long-jump type jump. Over a hurdle, across a body of water, onto a moving target. For the last __ years, I’ve written what I most enjoyed reading: romantic comedy, women’s fiction with a humorous tone, sometimes spy thriller stuff, but nothing angsty, nothing uber dramatic, rarely anything traumatic.
And then two months ago, BAM!!!! I got smacked upside the head with a plot that wouldn’t leave me alone. It wasn’t in a genre I’d ever really read, it was dark, it was twisty, it was at times even gross. I can’t stop working on it.
With this new project came a new need: first, information, about psychotic behaviors, mental conditions, criminal tendencies, police procedure. A secondary need, no less important, has been the knowledge that someone else out there has these twisty, dark, creepy, gross thoughts and they’re allowed – no, encouraged – to put them on paper; no one comes by with a one-way ticket to the “Are you a future ax murderer?” all-inclusive hotel.
I’ve found the answer to both my new needs in similar places: online communities. RWA’s Kiss of Death chapter is home to lots and lots of women who are having similar disturbing thoughts, so that was a great place to start. But I’ve also found non-membership-based resources, such as the CrimeWriter Yahoo group. These ladies and gentlemen are there to do nothing but address “How would I…” “What if…” “Is this possible…” questions. Many have law enforcement backgrounds. One or two seem to be psychology-minded (is that redundant?). So far I’ve learned just by reading the answers to other’s questions. I know I have a lot of catching up to do, coming late to the suspense/thriller party, but this is the most fun I’ve had learning in a LONG time!
The lesson for me? Don’t hide from the dark side. Embrace it. Pick at it. Scrape off the scabs. See what’s around that next dark corner. As my plotting partner said, “This is the best thing I’ve read of yours, ever!” Maybe going where we think we shouldn’t go is the best thing we can do for our writing. Especially when we go there with such good company!