Everyone loves a happy ending. Even the darkest of stories have one if you know where to look for it. It’s a time when villains become heroes and it’s cool for them to do evil deeds. The trick in locating the dark fiction HEA is to skew your head sideways. Conventional thinking won’t help you locate it in the obvious places. You must first allow the darkness to flow over you so it can smother out orthodoxy and open up your mind.
There are millions of authors on social media who write vanilla HEA’s for traditional HEA fans. HEA comforts readers. Fans know that by the close of the book, any crazy world made inside it will always end in one place, happy. It makes HEA fans feel safe — like pulling up a cosy blanket on a cold Winter’s night.
It’s a fact. My characters flounder like any HEA character. They doubt themselves. They love, hate, inspire-to-do-better, fail and succeed — just like any HEA character would do. There are winners and losers. And every dark story I’ve ever written comes with a profound, life-affirming resolution at its conclusion. Yes, I know, I offer readers a scratchy HEA blanket, but who said all blankets are soft?
A criminal’s version of happy-ever-after would be different to yours and mine. It’d be no less important (to them) but it would be a new challenge to create a good one as a writing exercise. Taking their viewpoint would allow a writer to explore their life goals, their hurdles, ups-and-downs, and all the foibles that come with living their kind of life.
For instance, not going to jail would be one of the criminal’s best HEA’s, right?
This type of HEA would be a hard-sell to those who firmly believe bad people should be punished. Jail time or a death sentence is the only satisfactory outcome for those who commit heinous acts on others.
Remember TV’s Dexter?
Now there’s a likeable bad guy who managed to get millions of fans on-side. The show was one part psycho-killer, three parts Equaliser. Dexter killed people but his victims were evil people too. They were paedophiles, murderers, etc — the worst of the worst. We liked watching our deranged, yet well-controlled killer, police society’s filth with his sharp knife and oodles of transparent plastic film taped to the walls and floors of his home. He became a judge, jury, and an excellent executioner. It’s an unconventional HEA.
See? It can be done.
This writer’s greatest challenge is to create new narratives using the HEA as a starting point — and then to develop them from evil’s perspective. I invite readers to experience them, so they too can become dark HEA believers by The End — the perfect HEA for my kind of adult fiction.
Five women’s bodies are discovered after the nights of thunderstorms. Their spouses are suspected of the crimes, but it becomes clear that someone else is responsible. There’s no blood and few clues. A storm photographer who specializes in taking pictures of lightning may be the only witness.