How dark is too dark?

For NaNoWriMo this year, I decided to start a horror story about a man who suffers a psychotic break and becomes a serial killer, but as I’m writing, a thought occurred to me. How dark is too dark?

Some writers excel at writing fantasy or non-fiction, or comedies, but I find that what I am best at writing is horror. Horror in all its gross, terrifying detail. The story started out innocently enough (or maybe not so innocently, but certainly not so disturbing) but the farther I uncover the events of my MC, the more I start to fear what I am writing. Am I taking this too far? Are readers going to put the book down if I continue writing in this manner? Are these gratuitous violence scenes unnecessary or worse…unwelcome? Will my writing inspire someone to do bad acts in real life? How do we separate fiction from reality? Will I be offending someone by writing this? I’m sure I will be offending someone, but will I be offending too many?

But it seems to be what I’m good at! Should I stop just because the story is going to very dark places? Just because dark fiction exists, does that mean it should continue to exist? I’m actually worried that my book will not only be rejected but that it will be hated. And the worst part is that I am not even halfway through writing it and I feel that it is already becoming too dark. I ultimately know where I want the story to end up, and I know it doesn’t getting any lighter. There is no redemption in the last few pages. There is nothing but darkness.

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