I'm writing a story centered around a protagonist trying to live a normal life while suppressing his evil impulses and the temptation of giving into those dark desires. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde is my inspiration, but that book was written from a third person perspective, a friend of the character looking into his life from the outside. Can I do this with a first person narrator without creeping out the reader?

A little background: The narrator was born into a cult, and is half-demon as a result of a ritual performed at his birth.

  • Rule 1: We don't talk about Fight Club. May 6, 2020 at 13:28
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? how can I showcase the internal struggles between a man and his demons? May 6, 2020 at 13:36
  • 1
    Hi Incognito. Your question was in danger of being closed because it went into so much specific detail on your story. I have edited to focus on the universal elements. Please revert if you are not happy with the edit. May 6, 2020 at 13:56
  • 1
    Why do you not want to creep out the reader? Writing about a person fighting their dark desires to commit evil acts is a creepy topic after all.
    – Philipp
    May 7, 2020 at 12:00

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure making this un-creepy is either possible or desirable. Your premise is deliberately creepy, why fight against that? What you need to do is build empathy with your main character. If he's fighting really hard to be a good person, and not always succeeding, most people will be able to identify with that. For him, the stakes are just a bit higher, and the scenery a bit more intense.


To begin, with Lewis Carroll: If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.

To continue, the question is, what your intent is in writing the story? What changes do you want to effect in the reader as they read the story?

A man has a dark side, characterized by demons. Perhaps the demons represent the notion that everyone has original sin (or words appropriate to a particular faith). Perhaps the demons represent the notion that modern life deadens our innate empathy. Perhaps the demons represent the notion that the existence of rock-and-roll/comics/Democrats/Republicans/thin-crust-pizzas corrupts the goodness of the individual. And so on and so on. Each of these possibilities requires a different colorization and texture for the demons.

I assume that once you describe the demons, you have thoughts about how the protagonist (and by extension, the readers) should respond and, thus, defeat the demons. Perhaps meditation, prayer, good works, tithing, or animal sacrifice are the answer. Maybe something else. More importantly, how you motivate the readers to adopt your "best practices." Describing a particular utopia in which the best practices are widespread sometimes works. But, for what it is worth, scaring the hell out of the worshipers (readers) is a time-honored tradition. Do it my way or suffer the pains of eternal fires (or bad hair days/endless cable news/bland frozen meals). Do I have your attention now?

So, the creepier, the better. But the responsible writer will ensure that there is a viable path out of the madness. No one wants to deal with a mob of folks all riled up with no clear place to go.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.