I’ve been working on ways to up the spooky factor in my scary scenes. One way, of course, is to make it dark. That’s human-basic. As little kids, when we have nightmares, we won’t go back to sleep unless the lights are on. As adults, when our cars break down, we’d much rather it happen at noon than at midnight.
It doesn’t help to say, “It was dark.”
I want to describe the darkness, where it lies, what it’s doing. The scene has to feel dark to the reader. This may be second-nature to more experienced writers, but it’s something I’m still working on.
I’m currently reading and enjoying She Who Comes Forth, a literary paranormal novel by Audrey Driscoll. I like the way Driscoll describes a sentient darkness:
In the stillness, something stirred. Not a shape in the darkness, but the darkness itself. A vortex into which I could fall, in which I would become. All I had to do was yield my will and speak the right words. The darkness tensed, waiting.
In another scene, Driscoll relates darkness to a grave:
The door slammed shut behind me as the flashlight slipped out of my hand and went out, entombing me in utter darkness.
Here are a couple of examples from my work-in-progress in which the protagonist, Catherine, flees into the woods where an evil witch abides:
Even though it was midday, the overcast sky was heavy, and only gray gloom seeped through the cloud cover.
The trees allowed no passage of moonlight. Only a black canopy loomed above. A dark mist groped at Catherine’s feet as she made her way deeper into the hollow.
Oh dear, poor Catherine. She doesn’t know the wickedness that lies in wait . . . .
Have a peaceful Christmas.
p.s. Yes, I “won” NaNoWriMo, now what? I put the manuscript away, and I’ll look at it with fresh eyes in the first quarter of 2019.