Thursday, March 6, 2014

If you are like me, you don’t like dwelling on dark subjects. We get enough of that in the daily news. But I do enjoy writing and reading thrillers and high-action romantic suspense stories. However, such stories usually require something bad to happen or to become an imminent threat. When I plan a novel I often choose a prevalent evil in our society, one that I want to expose, to serve as the malevolent factor in the story. But how does one treat, or expose, a horrid evil without creating a dark story?
Scriptures teach us that God, His goodness, and His word are light, and that Jesus is the light of the world. We know that darkness is the absence of light. So, to avoid a dark story, we simply infuse it with light. But how does that work in a novel dealing with a dark subject like child trafficking? I’m going to use my recent release, On the Pineapple Express, to illustrate my approach.
When plotting a novel, authors have a lot of freedom in how they tell their story. I chose to keep the ugly events offstage or to make them imminent, threatening to happen any moment, rather than graphically portray them. The darkest part of human trafficking is sexual abuse. In my story, I structured the plot so the reader knew such abuse would not happen until the group of captive girls was sold. Then I started a clock ticking toward the scheduled sale. This raised the level of suspense while giving me a way to avoid placing graphic evil images in my readers’ minds … as long as my protagonists are successful.
A second thing I did to keep the story from becoming dark is, at the darkest moments, I inserted hope by inserting, through my heroine, God’s promises and some things about God’s character, including His heart for the oppressed. I’m not sure who originally said this because so many people have repeated it, but it’s been noted that people can live for quite a while without many things, but not for more than a second without hope. In utter hopelessness, we die.
Dark clouds can eclipse sunlight, completely. My wife and I once saw it grow pitch dark at noon in San Antonio under a 50,000-foot-high super cell. When the 3” hailstones began to fall in the darkness it was frightening, but we knew that, above the storm, the sun was shining, and we had the sure hope that the sun would return. Sure enough, in another hour, it was again a bright, sunny Texas day. Don’t let your characters, thus your readers, spend too much time underneath that cloud.
To sum it all up, infuse your story with light. When the story must grow darker, infuse the situation with hope. Substitute the threat of the vile thing for graphic images of it. And remember that, in the end, light must win. Goodness and justice must prevail, defeating the darkness. My heroine summed this up by saying, “My role became clear, woven into the tapestry of a story only a good God could write.” I believe that’s where all of us, readers and writers, want our stories to end.
Treating child trafficking in this way, I have no reservations about giving On the Pineapple Express to
my 14-year-old granddaughter to read. The story serves as a warning she can profit from far more than from a book filled with graphic descriptions of the very things from which I want to protect her.

H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. In civilian life, he was a weather forecaster and a research scientist in atmospheric physics. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he developed computing systems for Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 47 years enjoy small-group ministry, grandchildren, hiking Olympic Peninsula beaches, snorkeling Maui whenever they can, and where he writes inspirational thrillers and romantic-suspense novels.

 Amazon Author Page:
On the Pineapple Express:

On the Pineapple Express:
In one of the most beautiful places on earth the ugliest of crimes holds young, innocent lives in its evil grip. An intercepted cell-phone call from a remote area on the Olympic Peninsula tells beautiful, brilliant NSA researcher, Jennifer Akihara, a group of girls will soon be sold into slavery by human traffickers. She enlists her fiancé, Lee Brandt, to help find the holding location and convince the FBI to intervene. With the clock ticking off the last few hours before both the sale of the girls and the arrival of a deadly storm, and with international criminals pursuing them, can Jennifer and Lee save the girls, or will their wedding plans be cancelled ... permanently?

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy!


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