Tag Archives: creating dark characters

Are Artists Emotionally Scarred?


Delving into emotional devastation makes for interesting characters and good stories. “Hurt your characters,” the saying goes, “to make them sympathetic. Make the villain believable.”

But where do writers find the inspiration for all that hurt? The inspiration to write a psychopath, for example, or just a plain ol’ dark-minded guy?

A moviegoer asked me, How do they come up with this dark stuff, and aren’t they emotionally scarred by it? I didn’t have an immediate answer, but I’ve been thinking about it. It’s a good question, and it brought to mind all creative types.

The way I see it, everyone experiences loss and pain. While most people try to put their painful past behind them, creatives revisit their own inner mine filled with dark stories. Sure, much of it is changed to fit a certain criteria. But the surest way, I suppose, to understand a character (assuming he is derived from someone), is to visit that familiar place where the past resides: personal experiences and memories. 

And so, do such visits affect the creative type (negatively in whatever manner, or positively by making him a better storyteller?) Does it scar him — as the moviegoer said — or is the artist able to leave it all behind in the end? What about readers/spectators?

I’m sure the answer isn’t black and white, but would love your thoughts.


Image credit: Immovable Open Eyed, by Lowell Boyers — from Wikimedia Commons.