I wrote a story, a few months back, a flash fiction piece, in about an hour, in a random moment of inspiration, and MicroHorror published it: I Used to Find Things. It's about a young boy who plays by himself in the woods behind his house and starts to see some bad things and feel some bad things about the woods. I used to play by myself in the woods behind my house growing up in much the same way. What struck me, is a comment left on the site by jsorensen that mentions the underlying plot in the piece as "the developing dark side of the boy." This got me wondering--am I writing about the birth and growth of my own "dark side"? To some extent, I believe this to be true--at least, in the developing awareness of my personal dark side. The problem is, I didn't see this element in the story when I wrote it. I saw the boy as an innocent stumbling into a dangerous world. Jsorensen goes on to say, "a part of me can empathize with the boy but hopefully not too much…".
The problem I have, then, is that when I want to write from the point of view of a disturbed character (which I guess I do since a lot of my characters seem to have this problem and what does this say about me?) I still have to be able to make him or her a rational human being with compassion and traits that make people able to feel for my character. How do you make someone feel for a character who murders somebody or purposefully steals and does a lot of drugs and stuff like that? The answer: you have to show him/her doing kind things that contrast with their detestable ones and show how they began to do these things. The keyword is, of course, "show". If you show your character doing something horrible and then just say 'by the way this is the reason,' you're not doing your job as a writer and storyteller. My issue is in accessing the 'dark side of humanity' while still evoking compassion in my readers.
I'll work on it.