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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dark Room Analogy

Today's post is on the dark room analogy that I would discuss with a supervisor awhile back. Imagine if you will a dark room with many doors. Some of the doors are cracked open some are wide open and others are shut tight. In this situation if trouble arises our first instinct is to run to the open doors, because we have been through those doors before and we really don't know what is behind the closed doors. The cracked ones we may have peeked through at times but didn't like what we saw. This is normal for people to always go through the same door, walk on the beaten path etc.

When working with clients we talk about this dark room and how they always go through the same door and always end up in the same place. What we try to teach them is to take a moment to sit in the darkness, feel the discomfort and take the time to look around for alternatives. By doing this they will slowly begin to open new doors and have new experiences or retry old ones.

This is true for our characters we need to give them a chance to feel the darkness and discomfort in order to have new experiences. This also goes for us take a moment to feel how your character is feeling. Maybe it isn't what you wanted? Take the time to think through different options and look for original ideas.


  1. Excellent post, and I love this analogy! It is one I have been using (without the awesome name lol) to think about the ways I write. Applying it to characters is a really good idea.

  2. I found a while back that I had a tendency to get lost in my characters--to explore the vast mazes of the dark room, so to speak. Consequently, much of what I wrote was heavy on character studies and lighter and plot. I found that my writing grew exponentially stronger when I explored those dark halls with my characters, wrote about it, and then focused on plot. The twists and turns showed up subtly and far more realistically. Excellent point!

  3. Kyra- Thanks for the comment. I use the analogy a lot in my own life and in writing.
    KLo- I agree with you it is amazing how exploring the dark halls opens up so much.

  4. Oh, I like this. I see people open the same doors over and over again. My think as I lay down to bed tonight will be sitting in a dark room with my protagonist and discussing different alternatives.

  5. I find the doors scarier than the dark room... maybe I can just stay - it wouldn't be so bleak if I put in a lava lamp and a couple of posters? :)

    Great to see you sharing your wealth of knowledge on psychology - you're a gem!

  6. Christine - That is a great idea! Have a fun chat with that protagonist and figure out several alternatives :)

    Charmaine - I think a lava lamp would really brighten the place up and make it quit comfortable :) Thanks for the comment. I really enjoy sharing it.

  7. I love this idea. As one who is afraid of the dark I am the person who will bolt for the known, even if I already know it is a bad choice. The idea of putting people in the situations that they fear and giving them choices. Thanks for another great post.


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