Light is good; dark is bad. Happiness is good; pain is bad. Love is good; hate is bad. Beauty is good; ugly is bad.
Except when it’s not.
No matter who you are or where you are from, there are always some things that we all come to know as generally known and accepted facts. They are canon — general rules or principles that most everyone abides by. Many people get so used to things being a certain way that they come to take it for granted that that is how they will always stay. They cease to think about them.
In fact, altering them can turn downright terrifying.
One of the most fun and satisfying things to do as a writer is to ask “What if?” Another one is to turn the normal things into the things that make people shiver. What do you do when the places that have always kept you safe turn on you? What happens when the things that used to comfort you turn sinister?
It sounds like it should be difficult, but think about how many of those things that usually make people smile already can cause you chills at times. While a child’s laughter is a wonderful thing, a child’s laughter from the dark doorway of a charred, long-abandoned playroom does little to warm the heart. An innocent thing like a doll or a rocking chair can take on an entirely new and terrible appearance.
Many things can break a person’s spirit, but when you start to take away their safe places — or better yet, turn their safe places against them — it doesn’t take long for true desperation to set in. It can take many forms: the monster that doesn’t stop chasing you when the sun comes up; the demon that hides behind the eyes of an innocent child; death that comes in brightly colored beauty; the kind, grandmotherly deranged killer. So many creative opportunities present themselves when you place a character in a position where the light no longer protects them. What is left to them? Where else is there to turn? Does salvation reside in the dark where they would never have thought to look? Or is there something even worse?
These thoughts make you uncomfortable? To the writers, I say, good; it means you’re already thinking. Make the canon un-canon.
To the rest of you, you’re welcome; you needed a something to shake your mind up today.