Setting the Stage

Everyone knows when night falls, that’s when the real fun happens. Parties late into the night. Midnight trysts. Infamy and intrigues.

Or maybe that’s when ne’er-do-wells come out of the woodwork to wreak havoc. When, as ordinary people sleep, at their most vulnerable, those who seek to do evil and sow chaos strike.

What about those moments when we aren’t shrouded in a literal darkness? When the path before us seems muddled and confused? When everything seems hopeless and nothing turns out as we’d planned?

Image credit: Derrick Tyson

Maybe it’s just a time, like any other. A momentary change from light to dark, inevitable and transitory. Some see darkness as sinister – while others believe it merely allows the light within to shine more brightly than before.

Maybe there’s no special significance to darkness at all…depending on your point of view.

What do famous writers have to say about darkness?

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.”
Carl Jung

“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Image credit: ellenm1

“And oftentimes to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths; win us with honest trifles, to betray’s in deepest consequence.”
William Shakespeare

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”
Helen Keller

“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.”
Terry Pratchett

How to use this prompt

There’s no one way to use a writing prompt – what feelings does the idea of darkness evoke in you? What might someone do – or not do – hidden within the dark? What actions would your hero or villain take in this literal or figurative state? What is darkness, really? And what does it mean to you?

Image credit: Sean McGrath

Use this prompt to and run with it, whether you feel inspired to add a scene to your novel, write a short story, or compose a poem. Then feel free to share what you’ve written in comments, post a link to your piece on your own blog, or submit it for our site!