10 March, 2009

Does Clive Barker Believe in Cenobites?

Originally uploaded by Boogeyman13
How do you write convincing fiction about things you don't believe in? This is a question that has been weighing on me for a couple of years now. I have a series of stories I wrote years ago that all take place in a remote Pennsylvania town where Lucifer resides and wreaks havoc in the lives of the residents. Sounds like an interesting horror series, right? It was, and for the most part, I had fun writing it, but the problem arose in that my personal beliefs do not include "the devil." In short, I felt at the time like my portrayal of the devil would be unconvincing because I do not believe in him.

Then I got to thinking. Do those who write ghost stories necessarily believe in ghosts, or do they just do their homework very well? Do fantasy writers believe in dragons, or again, do they spend a lot of time researching and exercising their imagination? Does Clive Barker believe in Cenobites? (I dunno, he just might...)

When I told my husband I was blogging this topic, he looked at me and shook his head. "You don't have to believe in something to write about it!" he said. And maybe he's right. Enough research on any topic will definitely add an element of realism as you're writing, but is it the same believability established from genuine belief?

And I'm not just talking about horror here. If you're writing a book or short story about life after death or the existence of angels, do you personally think the book would have more credibility if you were a firm believer in the topic? I'm interested in your thoughts on this. I don't know what I think yet. I'm still thinking about it and can see how belief in something would definitely establish more strength in its portrayal. On the other hand, I think that knowing something inside and out could also provide this type of strength. I'm torn.

Thoughts? And I'd really like to know if Clive Barker believes in Cenobites.

Edited to add:

Apparently Mr. Barker does believe in "evil things" all around us.


Maryann Miller said...

I don't think you have to believe in something to write about it. For your specific issue of the devil, all you have to do is know enough about the devil and evil to make it convincing in your story.

Came over to your blog because of the comment you left for me at Blood Red Pencil. Had to thank you personally for the nice words you left there. :-)

Jenny Beans said...

Thank you for stopping by, Maryann. I really enjoyed your post on BRP! I think you're right, that as long as you know enough about what you're writing, you can make it pretty convincing.

AravisGirl said...

It has to be real enough to you. It may exist only in your mind, but it does need to Exist on some level or another.

PS I do believe dragons are really just like oversized chameleons from back when the Earth had more oxygen ;)

thePuck said...

Stories are about people, always. People doesn't mean human, it means a mind. Lucifer is just another mind to deal with, same thing with dragons (if they are there as something other than a boogedy to be a danger) and everything else.

Just kick in the old empathy...what would it be like to be Lucifer, really? What would motivate you? Evil isn't a good answer...remember, no one considers themselves evil, they think they are doing the right thing.