For years now I’ve been almost exclusively writing YA fantasy in all its various forms – paranormal, dystopian, urban, speculative, and even a bit of science fiction (but that was a mistake, a very big mistake) – all revolving around a central, incredibly clichéd angsty romance. But for the last few months I’ve been writing a contemporary novel on the other end of the spectrum, something so dark and gritty, that I often take myself completely by surprise, looking over my shoulder to see if anyone is watching.
Even though I have a Bachelor of Criminology, I never pictured myself writing anything remotely dark or scary. And what is it actually like to write a dark psychological thriller? I believe it looks something like cats (because we all know exactly what they are #SerialKillers).
1. Firstly, you have no idea that you’re actually writing a psychological thriller, you truly believe you’re just writing a story about a straight forward murder. Someone’s died. Someone will get framed. Yep, you’ve got it all sorted. Crime novelist extraordinaire here you come.
2. But then, hang on, what’s going on here? Why is the murdered girl not dead? You wanted her to die, but she just won’t go quietly. Damn it.
3. And then you come to that scene. That one scene that would even shock your horror movie resistant friend. Your insides curdle and you wonder if your parents will disown you, or even worse, disinherit you.
4. After you’ve written ‘the scene’ you become so terrified by your own thoughts that you literally freak yourself out.
5. You’re so disturbed you can’t even read the words. So you make a jump for it.
6. But you survive. Because there’s a twist. I really awful and obvious twist (that is hopefully hiding the real twist…) But is the real twist real? And who really is real and who really isn’t?
7. It gets so damn complicated that you begin to question your own sanity. And then you realise. Oh. You’ve written a psychological thriller. Hot diggity damn.
8. After much chocolate-eating, sweat and tears, along comes the magnificent ending you’ve been dreaming of. But… then you realise it’s not really the ending, but the beginning. And the beginning is the middle. And the middle is the ending. Is anyone ever going to understand this?
9. But it doesn’t matter because, YOU’RE FINISHED! Hell yeah! The excitement doesn’t last long. I mean, come on… have you really forgotten that you still have to edit?
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