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Writing the Dark
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A game I wrote a few weeks ago took place at night. I find it hard to write about darkness. Whether it is a game or a novel, the problem is the same. Like most people, I am visually oriented and at night the sense of sight is curtailed.

The correct approach is probably to concentrate on the other senses, which take a more prominent role. At night you notice sounds more, and smells. The smallest tactile sensation of air movement, hardly noticeable during the day, commands attention.

Writers are often counseled to involve the reader by bringing all the senses into play. So one might profitably approach a midday scene by imagining how it could be described, if it took place in the small hours of the night.

But, of course, rather than doing anything like that, I usually struggle to visualize the absence of vision. It is interesting how darkness drains the details from the world, reduces the welter to to vague forms and masses.

When I was thinking about the problem I came across a poem by Jane Hirshfield in Slate. Possibility: An Assay . I'm not sure I can decipher the poem, or if it wants deciphering. I know about as much about poetry as I do about opera. But I was struck by the way it began:

Again I looked out the window.
All around me, the morning still dark.

The mountain's outline there, but not the mountain.

Yes, the outline but not the mountain. That is exactly what I was groping for. Do you suppose she would mind if I stole it?

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