What makes a fic dark?

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    is obsessed with Noivern! Zekurom's Avatar
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    Default What makes a fic dark?

    I know I've used the term "dark" in the past a lot, but I've been starting to think about what the word actually means. People throw it around a lot, saying that this piece is "darker" than another to somehow claim it as superior (see all the fan hype over Pokémon Special).

    In my original conception of it, darkness involved angst, and cynicism. But there are many fics that don't involve either of those that are still "dark", and many fics that have such things that aren't. So now I'm at a loss to what "darkness" really means in a story and why it's such a popular tag on stories.

    What does "dark" in a story mean to you?
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Personally, to understand what a ‘dark’ fic is, I have to define what a ‘light’ fic is in my opinion. In my opinion a ‘light’ fic is the classic story of a hero who rises up to fulfill some calling and is, well, the hero. He’s normally strong, believes in his views, but most importantly, in the end, people can clearly say “This guy is a hero!” Then with the plot ‘light’ fics tend to focus on how hard work, determination, love and strength can triumph over evil, the classic shonen tale.

    This is where ‘dark’ comes in. To me, a ‘dark’ fic is the opposite. The character’s actions are questionable, and people don’t know whether to root for him or not. He’s not a hero, but at times a villain, or somewhere in between. Faith, love, determination, hard work, all the things ‘light’ fics stand for are undermined in one way, shape, or form. Perhaps in the end, love can do nothing against the beast; maybe no matter how hard you try you end up failing. Things go from bad to worse, and in the end, the main character has to lose something of value to even come close to winning, or perhaps never does.

    Those are my thoughts on what the ‘classic light and dark’ fics are, but it’s pretty obvious that there are few like that. Instead many combine the aspects in the two, creating something new and interesting. In my opinion saying something is better just because it’s ‘dark’ is just grasping at straws, but it really comes down to what emotion you want the fic to give you. Do you want to feel like there’s nowhere to go but up, or that the fall is gonna hurt?

    Not sure if this made any sense, since I sorta got lost somewhere in my own thoughts/words, but hope somebody understands what I just wrote.

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    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    I think that's a good way to put it, Chaosj2. But at the same time, can "light" fics be praised as much as "dark" fics are?
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Chaos said it the best, in my opinion.

    Though the dark fic doesn't necessarily need to have a questionable main character but possibly also a positive character who ends up entangled in all the darkness of the story. It could be referred to as the mixture between the light and the dark fic just like he suggested.

    For example; take anime "Puella Magi Madoka Magica".

    It starts of light-hearted only for it to get dark and serious with massive trope deconstructions for such genre. The main character however is this positive girl, she's not questionable, she does no real harm to anyone, she only wishes peace. And while she still is such a good character, great sacrifices are made in the very end and in a such bittersweet way that it really turns out to be some sort of mixture between 'light' and 'dark'. 'Light' in the way how the hero/heroine manage to accomplish their wish even if it means to make a sacrifice and 'dark' in the way that the big sacrifice is made, people do die and don't come back and that things don't end up as perfect after all.

    I agree that it would be great idea to combine the aspects of the two as it would make for an interesting story just like my example above suggested.

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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chaosj2 View Post
    This is where ‘dark’ comes in. To me, a ‘dark’ fic is the opposite. The character’s actions are questionable, and people don’t know whether to root for him or not. He’s not a hero, but at times a villain, or somewhere in between. Faith, love, determination, hard work, all the things ‘light’ fics stand for are undermined in one way, shape, or form. Perhaps in the end, love can do nothing against the beast; maybe no matter how hard you try you end up failing. Things go from bad to worse, and in the end, the main character has to lose something of value to even come close to winning, or perhaps never does.
    So to you, darkness is about Black and Gray Morality, and perhaps about tough breaks and hardship for the sake of it, as well as anti-idealism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsutarja View Post
    It starts of light-hearted only for it to get dark and serious with massive trope deconstructions for such genre. The main character however is this positive girl, she's not questionable, she does no real harm to anyone, she only wishes peace. And while she still is such a good character, great sacrifices are made in the very end and in a such bittersweet way that it really turns out to be some sort of mixture between 'light' and 'dark'. 'Light' in the way how the hero/heroine manage to accomplish their wish even if it means to make a sacrifice and 'dark' in the way that the big sacrifice is made, people do die and don't come back and that things don't end up as perfect after all.
    There's another problem I wanted to discuss. Some people will claim that "a victory without sacrifice is no victory at all", which is definitely a core tenet of most fics that people consider "dark". Is this an admirable, or even realistic principle? Are people right to criticize stories where everything does come out perfect at the end as "trite" and "childish"? As LightningTopaz mentioned, are people right to praise dark stories more strongly than light ones?
    Last edited by Zekurom; 28th March 2012 at 02:49 PM.
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    ポケモン Tsutarja's Avatar
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by Smuglord View Post
    There's another problem I wanted to discuss. Some people will claim that "a victory without sacrifice is no victory at all", which is definitely a core tenet of most fics that people consider "dark". Is this an admirable, or even realistic principle? Are people right to criticize stories where everything does come out perfect at the end as "trite" and "childish"? As LightningTopaz mentioned, are people right to praise dark stories more strongly than light ones?
    Well simply because a story is 'dark' doesn't mean it's not allowed to be given a happy, sacrifice-less ending. I mean sure, bad things occur, but a happy end isn't something unrealistic, not even in real life. I'd say it depends from your story though, the way your story was written and basically how everything was written as well as the individuals who read your story since many have split opinions regarding that topic.

    Though I do personally believe that the majority nowadays prefers serious stories with a mix of realism inside them. But whether it's a right thing to do? I don't really know. I guess what attracts people more to those type of series is the fact that they can correlate to them since the world we live in today isn't exactly the most wonderful place, especially with all the murders, sexual assaults or other crimes taking place. That said, a dark story doesn't need to be exactly as realistic as our world, in my opinion, I think it's perfectly okay to tone it down a bit.

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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsutarja
    I do personally believe that the majority nowadays prefers serious stories with a mix of realism inside them. But whether it's a right thing to do? I don't really know. I guess what attracts people more to those type of series is the fact that they can correlate to them since the world we live in today isn't exactly the most wonderful place, especially with all the murders, sexual assaults or other crimes taking place. That said, a dark story doesn't need to be exactly as realistic as our world, in my opinion, I think it's perfectly okay to tone it down a bit.
    I guess it's just that I expect stories that do get into the serious, anti-ideal stuff to examine it philosophically (like Evangelion), instead of just taking it as it comes. Some people don't have that requirement, and that's their choice. But it miffs me a bit that people actually like torturing themselves by attaching themselves emotionally to a character who undergoes hardship and never recovers from it.

    But what do I know, I don't watch horror movies either.
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    My fanfics that I'm writing aren't exactly dark but not exactly light either. I'll describe it:

    My Pokemon fic, Pokemon Journeys: Black & White, expands on the themes of ideals vs truth and conflicting beliefs. The heroine, Hilda, strives to stop N and Team Plasma and their twisted ideals but also finds that their claims of humans treating Pokemon isn't false for certain people. While she meets good people who respect their Pokemon, she also meets bad people who use Pokemon but not in ways she agrees with among others. However, she holds onto the belief that Pokemon and humans are able to get along even if some don't while others do with her as a shining example of the latter. Basically, it's not dark but rather just realistic. It doesn't show death but doesn't deny it. There are characters with gray personalities as I portray the Pokemon World as imperfect like ours so it's pretty realistic. And so on. Basically, it's not dark but it's not light either. I even show the emotional torment that a Trainer goes through when his/her Pokemon are stolen.

    In my MLP:FiM/Sailor Moon mash-up, My Little Sailor Soldiers: Friendship is Magic, I basically rewrite the series as a Good vs. Evil kind of story along with themes of friendship, love and understanding one another. There are some dark moments like the torment of Princess Luna but there is a happy ending where things turn out alright. BUT I have make sure that the story and characters have truly earned their happy ending and that it's not contrived. Happy endings work when it all feel right to the reader but that varies with each one, of course.

    Really, my fanfics are to be pretty G rated if you ask me. While I'm a fan of Higurashi, I like to write stories that aren't too light but not too dark and overall enjoyable to read. I just make sure that my stories are likable and believable.

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    Let's get funky! Gama's Avatar Former Head Administrator
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    I'm not sure I agree 100% with the definition of dark that has been given thus far. What Chaos has said is indeed dark but it is a specific form of dark fic in my opinion.

    I think a fic is "dark" when it deals with "dark" themes, and, of course, that means it can be of varying levels of "darkness". Dark themes, I would say, are things like violence (not superficial violence like in the Pokemon anime, for example), in depth descriptions of death, and generally more detailed description of "bad things". I think, essentially, the big difference is that in a fic that is not "dark", the more evil actions are not described in as much detail... perhaps they are not as evil.

    I don't think this means a fic has to be dark to be good. Looking at the dark side of things is only looking at one side of things. There are a lot of things in life that are not dark, and there are a lot of stories to be told that aren't necessarily enormously reflective of life anyway.

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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Generally a dark fic has more mature content than a standard fic. Just don't get "mature" confused with, as Image Comics did in the old days, "adolescent."

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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    I think a dark fic is mostly concerned with themes, hidden messages, the mood, word usage... Whatever creates that gloom and doom feeling to it. You know, the horror movie stuff. Dark definitely doesn't make it better, per say. I love it when things are dark though. I 'light' story, in my opinion, is a fairytale-esque story. The happy romance, the win with little adversity, happy and bright themes and 'cheerful' words. I think it's all dependent the mood that the author creates.

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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    i think dark kind of deals with a mysterious, violent, and maybe containing dark humor. it may be the writing style people choose to use, but it's mostly the mood of the story that makes it "dark."

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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    The main thing I think of with "dark" vs. "light" in terms of story content, is that people die in dark stories and in light stories.

    The key difference is that lighter stories usually move on, whereas darker stories tend to dwell on death. This can be applied to other concepts as well, such as drug use, alcohol abuse, and self-hatred.

    The original Godzilla, for example, was a pretty dark movie. It dwelt on the aftermath of Godzilla's rampages through Tokyo, creating this very doom-and-gloom atmosphere that works very well for what the movie tried (and succeeded) to do. Compare that to King Kong vs. Godzilla, where deaths obviously occur, but they're not dwelt on, and the movie has this overall satirical, goofy tone to it.

    (I'm Lugion, btw. April Fools!)

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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kodizzle View Post
    The main thing I think of with "dark" vs. "light" in terms of story content, is that people die in dark stories and in light stories.

    The key difference is that lighter stories usually move on, whereas darker stories tend to dwell on death. This can be applied to other concepts as well, such as drug use, alcohol abuse, and self-hatred.
    But would anybody ever express a need to move on? Kind of a melancholy acceptance that eventually, everybody is a failure?

    The original Godzilla, for example, was a pretty dark movie. It dwelt on the aftermath of Godzilla's rampages through Tokyo, creating this very doom-and-gloom atmosphere that works very well for what the movie tried (and succeeded) to do. Compare that to King Kong vs. Godzilla, where deaths obviously occur, but they're not dwelt on, and the movie has this overall satirical, goofy tone to it.
    Does darkness necessarily mean doom and gloom? I again refer to Pokémon Special. From what I've heard other people say, it's much "darker" than the anime and games, and yet I don't see too much of a gloomy mood in that manga at all. Who's incorrect here?

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    I though as much. >_>
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Well, my perception of "Dark" is that it dives into the more descriptive end of evil.

    And whereas Light/good is obvious or doesn't really require a vivid description, evil isn't.

    For example: Making one happy is easy to describe, you can say for instance he/she smiled, or was brought back o life, but on the other hand, describing anger/rage, hatred/loath, sadness and remorse, angst and misery, depending on how the writer intends to make use of them, might require a deep and very vivid description, sometimes lasting more than momentarily, maybe even having a significant affect on the plot and a character's development.

    Then again, that's just my viewpoint.
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