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  1. #16
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    That is another great point, but can "light" emotions be described with the same complexity as "dark" emotions are?
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    From my personal experience of trying to describe them, most 'light' emotions are actually quite simple and hard to turn into complex descriptions, but I guess that's what makes them so 'magical and surreal', while most 'dark' emotions are a lot easier to give complex descriptions. Personally I think its because when you feel happy, you don't think about how it feels, you just experience it, but when you feel sad or angry, all you can think about is how you feel.

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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    I classify these two fics - The Poké Wars Chronicles: Tales From A World At War (compilation), Land Before Time: Twilight Valley - as dark fics. I classify them as dark fics not solely because they are very violent (but that plays a part too). The fact that they are war stories that deal with the horror, fanaticism, heroism, savagery and hatred of total war is the main reason I classify them as dark fics.

    Life of the Legendaries, isn't exactly a "dark fic" even though it is intensely violent because, while the violence is serious and deaths do occur, it is mostly a comedic fic.
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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?

    Personally, @LightningTopaz I think "light" fics can have the emotions within them dealt with to the same complexity as "dark" fics but I think that the emotions explored within them are necessarily different within them.

    For example, if someone feeling that they want to do something horrible, or that they have suffered something absolutely horrible is explored in great detail, I don't really see how that particular fic can't end up "dark".

    However, I do think that reactions to certain situations and feelings about how people have suffered situations of a certain severity can be explored to a great depth with the fic remaining "light". So, in short, yes, I think "light" fics can explore feelings etc. in detail and depth.

    All of this said, however, I think categorising fics in this way is necessarily problematic. I don't think you can very easily say "This is what "light" fics are like", "This is what "dark" fics are like", because your definition of what is "light" and what is "dark" is necessarily done on a case-by-case basis and is fairly subjective. I think you kind of have to look at each fic specifically and decide for yourself whether it is light or dark (and that definition may differ for different people) and, independently of that, decide whether it explores the things that the characters go through in depth.

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

    I only asked the question because it seems all the "dark" stories (which I define as dealing with gritty and/or dystopian worlds, and if there is a happy ending at all, the characters have to really work for it) get praised (some rightfully so), while the "light" stuff is dismissed as mindless drivel or as cheesy Disney-esque stuff. So, can a "light" fic be worthy enough to be praised as much as a "dark" story?
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    is obsessed with Noivern! Zekurom's Avatar
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by LightningTopaz View Post
    I only asked the question because it seems all the "dark" stories (which I define as dealing with gritty and/or dystopian worlds, and if there is a happy ending at all, the characters have to really work for it) get praised (some rightfully so), while the "light" stuff is dismissed as mindless drivel or as cheesy Disney-esque stuff. So, can a "light" fic be worthy enough to be praised as much as a "dark" story?
    This was the question that was buzzing in my mind too. How can somebody praise a work for being part of a category when that category isn't even well defined?
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by Smuglord View Post
    This was the question that was buzzing in my mind too. How can somebody praise a work for being part of a category when that category isn't even well defined?
    Maybe a Dark fic isn't defined necessarily based on the amount or detail of emotion described, but on the setting. Maybe a "dark" fic is one that is set in a "dark" world, Dark meaning grim and hopeless. A "dark" fic is probably one that is written about characters whom live in such a world.

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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Light and dark fics are hard to define, I think. Trying to draw a line between the two is like trying to look at a setting sun and trying to work out where 'day' ends and 'night' begins. Is it when there's more darkness in the sky than light? Is it when the first tinges of darkness start to creep across the sky? Or is it when the last traces of light have disappeared completely, leaving behind nothing but blackness?

    All this can be applied to light/dark fics as well, of course, and various people have different ideas of where the line lies. Some people think a fic needs to be full-on horrid, post-apocalyptic, dystopian literature that explores complex questions about the nature of humanity and mortality and the insignificance of our role in the universe. Others reckon that it becomes 'dark' when you deviate slightly from the canon way of doing things and have a character die. A large chunk of people I've seen fall somewhere in the middle. Still, all this wandering around the question isn't bringing us much closer to a definitive answer, so if you'll allow me to, I'll deviate into personal opinion a little.

    I think of a fic as dark when there's an element of uncertainty. Doubt is one of the most terrifying emotions you can experience, and when it's captured properly, that's when the darkness really grabs at you. This can be obvious, or it can be subtle. In a 'light' journeyfic, you will expect the main character to beat the Champion at the end of the story. It might take them a few tries; they might have to go on a whole new journey to get good enough, but at the end of the day, they'll win 99 times out of 100. A darker take on the same story model, however, makes you wonder. You find yourself scared that the main character might not even make it to the Champion battle. The author keeps you guessing, makes you feel the fear of uncertainty. (Note that this isn't simply 'the character loses sometimes'. That happens in most stories [even the anime] to prevent Sue-ness and boring predictability, but the defining feature here is how the author handles it. The devil is in the detail, people.) When the author allows you to feel disappointment and rejection, sympathising with the character and legitimately realising that they very well may fail to achieve their ultimate goal . . . that's dark for me.

    Obviously, that particular example relates to journey fics. The model will be different for other subgenres. You can make a post-apocalyptic story 'light' by focusing on the delivery. Look at Zombieland. You knew from the beginning there was going to be a happy ending, didn't you? And this brings me to what I think is the main point: it's all in the delivery and the execution. You could have two hypothetical fics that dealt with the exact same subject matter across the same plotline, and they could be wildly different. One could look at everything in a positive light and take it all as a bit of fun, while the other deconstructs the problems and forces you to look at them. You know how it is: some movies make jokes about death, others turn it into a world-shaking event. A football player with a broken leg could be a wonderful opportunity for slapstick in one show, or a terrible misfortune in another. It all depends on where the author focuses.

    Often, it's difficult to tell. While there are a (very) few fics that almost everybody could look at and think 'dark', most fall in that great gulf where you can't really say. For example, some people would put Champion Game into the Dark fic category. Personally, I wouldn't. (Knowing how the latter half of the story goes, though, I totally would.) But even for me, I look at something one day and call it dark, but the next day I go 'what was I thinking? It's positively glittery.'

    This is one of those questions, I think, which has no definitive answer. Good luck trying to find one, hehe.
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  9. #24
    Just Marcat Marcat's Avatar
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    If you want to say that "Dark" is judged based on the concept of good vs evil, then the term 'Dark' itself is subjective, seeing as the very concept of good vs evil is subjective.

    For instance, all those bank heist movies ( ie Italian job or Fast 5). The 'good guys' are actually doing something wrong, stealing and killing. Yet, they are considered the good guys because they're the main characters and fighting against another dude who's considered 'badder'.

    All those bad-ass characters like Riddick (from Choronicles of Riddick) or Death Race are criminals but still considered 'good guys' and you might find yourself rooting for them. This is also portrayed in alot of books and novels.

    And even then, alot of these movies or stories aren't considered 'dark'. So by definition, judging a story 'dark' based on good vs evil doesn't work.

    Personally, I judge a story dark when it portrays harsh reality. The pokemon anime is a complete 180 of that. Reality is all nice and flowery, and sometimes it can be quite cruel. When a writers implements reality in their story (of course, while maintaining the delicate balance and not overdoing it) then I call it dark.

    When the character(s) faces hardships that deeply affect him, when the goals aren't always achieved, when the world is tough and unforgiving,...etc.

    Then yes, you have a dark story, very distant from the mindless stereotype that some have grown accustomed to.

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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by Misheard Whisper View Post
    When the author allows you to feel disappointment and rejection, sympathizing with the character and legitimately realizing that they very well may fail to achieve their ultimate goal . . . that's dark for me.
    This sentence makes the most sense in describing a dark fic, yet.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinoga View Post
    Then yes, you have a dark story, very distant from the mindless stereotype that some have grown accustomed to.
    When you refer to a mindless stereotype, do you refer to a mindless stereotype of darkness, or a mindless stereotype of fiction?
    The word "quadragonal" is the only word with "dragon" in it where "dragon" is not a root word. That makes it awesome.

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    Just Marcat Marcat's Avatar
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by Smuglord View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jinoga View Post
    Then yes, you have a dark story, very distant from the mindless stereotype that some have grown accustomed to.
    When you refer to a mindless stereotype, do you refer to a mindless stereotype of darkness, or a mindless stereotype of fiction?
    I would say the mindless stereotype of darkness.

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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 think the reason that people celebrate 'darkness' is sometimes becomes people confuse darkness with depth. A fic can definitely be 'light' and still have a great deal of depth.

    Also, what Misheard said is important. There's no clear distinction between one fic being light and another being dark. There is a continuum. Rival's Story, for example, I would consider, on the whole, to have been a very light fic, but it certainly had some dark elements to it. I'd find it very difficult to quantify that as either dark or light.

  14. #29

    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    While I agree that it's difficult to distinguish between 'light' and 'dark' fics, for me the thing that marks it as dark (even if only a little) is the pretagonist asking 'Why?'. Why do what he's doing, why things happen to him. When a protagonists doubts himself (really doubt himself, not some whinning that lasts two episodes and gets resolved with an inspiring speech), his actions or his motivations, that's when I think a story begins to be 'dark', because it implies that, hey just because you think you're the good guy doesn't mean you actually are. That's what I think, that 'darkness' in a story is the fact that the protagnist may not actually be always right in the end.

  15. #30
    Reality is a dream TheLlama's Avatar
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    I think a dark story/fic isn't about antagonistical heroes, or a main character in the gray zone. To me, it's is defined by the mood. By the thoughts of the characters. By the feelings. By its grislyness.

    The thing is, a lot of stories portray only the positive sides of stories. Overcoming adversity, fighting evil, triumphing. That's all and well, but there's often not that much focus on the negative impacts such a journey has on the characters - this is especially true for the shonen genre of anime (in which pokemon and most lighthearted action series belong), not so much in western fantasy literature (LotR and the latter HP books f.ex.). What makes a story dark is when it puts into focus the despair, the hopelessness that is felt as the characters go through the main story, their journey. One where it focuses in distress, on the mental problems characters face (overcoming depression, angst, the feeling of loss, and so on), as opposed to the physical problems (training for a battle, journeying through a hard-to-navigate place, aso).

    So basically, light fics and stories steer away from the mental problems of characters (for the most part, they can have some mental problems (ref. Chimchar's story), but they're often more straightforward; less convoluted and complex). Dark fics take these more into account, and they take up large parts of the story, and are often what drives the story; the characters' struggle to overcome themselves is as important as overcoming their enemies. And, most importantly, these feelings are portrayed explicitly. It shouldn't be held back, it should be as it is in real life. When someone dies, you don't cry for two seconds (or a single episode) then get up to fight, and then everything's forgotten. When someone dies, it takes, for most people, a LONG tile, and a LONG struggle, to overcome this - maybe the characters carry it to the very end of the story). A real dark story should have these aspects down. It has to be grisly, it has to go to the cold, hard bones of the characters' minds, to break open the vault that is their soul and mind.

    And, most interesting of all, are those in which the ending isn't good. Where problems turn up unsolvable, or where the bad guys may win (at least win a little). It's not a requirement to be dark, but it makes it more interesting, in many ways. Because in the real world, the bad guys often win. The good guys can face setback after setback - and never win! And the despair and hopelessness things brings about, is great fodder for dark stories.
    Last edited by TheLlama; 4th April 2012 at 08:51 PM.

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