Story Warriors #017:  Why Jacob Carpenter’s Stories Are So Dark

Story Warriors #017:
Why Jacob Carpenter’s Stories Are So Dark

“In the drying beds of a sewage plant, raking human waste into piles, your mind journeys, especially a mind forever voyaging into the dark side.”

According to screen writer and video games producer, Jacob Carpenter, “My best ideas usually come from these periods of intense dehumanization and struggle.”

This is a story of fear and hope and unconditional love, packed with tools for powerful storytelling.

With recurring nightmares as a child…

Jacob faced his fears straight on. He studied horror films.

His parents made a deal with him. He could watch any film he wanted provided he read the book version first.

That’s how Jacob discovered that the dark side is where the human condition is at its most profound. It’s where storytelling is at its most impacting.

“Terror through media is like a roller coaster. It’s that safe danger that we all want to experience.”

But it’s not just about the emotional roller coaster.

“The point of exploring the villain, for example, is not to point out how terrible he is,” Jacob says. “The point of the villain is to point out how human he is.”

Ah, good. So that would set up the happy ending, right?


“I like things to end on a downer, because I love humanity. I love humanity so much. I want to see humanity succeed,” he says.

“And I want to reinforce the importance of that. And to me, that is reinforced by seeing it fail.”

And here we are in 2020.

“We’re waiting for our Citizen Kane. We’re waiting for the thing that establishes that paradigm shift. It’s an opportunity to do something new and beautiful.”

Jacob feels that the struggle for redemption is upon us.

“I don’t know that it will cause any change in storytelling. But I do think that storytelling will be part of the way we get through it.”

The tools he uses to get through it are riveting ones which all storytellers can, to some degree, make use of.

Check out Jacob’s extraordinary journey into the dark side, and how unconditional love keeps him whole.

“Everyday that I don’t become a super-villain is a day that I’ve succeeded,” he laughs, “because the capacity is certainly there.”

It’s all on this episode of Story Warriors, the podcast for crafting great stories.

It’s the longest episode yet, and it’s chock full of engrossing wisdom.

So fasten your seatbelt, strap on a helmet and dive with us into the depths of the dark side…

… if you dare.

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Google PodcastsListen on SpotifyListen on Spotify