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  1. #31
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    What about stories that are a good blend between light and dark? Like it's not all gloomy but not all peppy either. There are sad moments and joyful moments that may tear you up either way and in the end, things turn out relatively well. The characters go through many trials and tribulations but it all pays off as they overcome their inner and outer demons to better themselves. And it's all portrayed in a believable and fairly realistic way that barely, if ever, has moments or narm or contrivances. It's just makes you feel so many different emotions.

    You know what I mean? It's not dark or light but still EPIC nonetheless.
    Last edited by matt0044; 6th April 2012 at 11:55 AM.

  2. #32
    Wordsmith unrepentantAuthor's Avatar
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    What does 'dark' actually mean, though? It's a very subjective term. Technically a fic is dark if it's set at night most of the time, no? I understand it to mean any work that explores the negative aspects of the world and human nature. I require dark fiction to have, on balance, a cynical outlook, too.

    For me, there's a clear distinction between mature and dark fiction. Both contain... not necessarily violence, but such subjects as deep emotional conflict, themes like humanity's self destructive nture or events such as tragic character regression. Violence is a plus, provided it's not gratuitous. The distinction is that mature fiction doesn't need to be miserable, you can have this content while being uplifting. Dark fiction's effect is depressive. Pessimistic.

    It's such a nebulous idea, though. I prefer to judge all fiction individually rather than creating strict definitions of genre or such distinctions. I find it restrictive.

  3. #33
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by unrepentantAuthor View Post
    It's such a nebulous idea, though. I prefer to judge all fiction individually rather than creating strict definitions of genre or such distinctions. I find it restrictive.
    I have the exact same feeling, which is why I started this thread to get other people's feelings on the subject.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gastly's Mama
    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.
    In such a case, I would ask, what makes a fic darker? It's essentially the same question. What constitutes a "dark" element of a story?
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  4. #34
    Let's get funky! Gama's Avatar Former Head Administrator
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gastly's Mama
    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.
    In such a case, I would ask, what makes a fic darker? It's essentially the same question. What constitutes a "dark" element of a story?
    Sorry, most of what has been said in this thread is legitimate even with that distinction being made, I was just pointing out what it isn't so black and white. Personally I like uA's definition the best so far.

  5. #35
    Wordsmith unrepentantAuthor's Avatar
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    Personally I like uA's definition the best so far.
    Thank you very much. Excuse me while I babble incomprehensibly out of embarrassed gratitude. *inane gibbering*

    With that out of the way, I feel I should add that there is - in my view - no objective way to classify a text as dark. Writing reams of angst can become absurd rather than bleak and thus risk losing the story its intended darkness. A 'white knight' protagonist can still be slain brutally before they reach their apex, thereby making their story - arguably - a dark one. Any aspect of the prose that successfully communicates a less than idealised view of existence can be said to be 'dark' content. Having said that, a story about suicide that isn't dark is anomalous; but such surefire morbidity is a cheap method of inserting angst. I much prefer the subtlety of gradually stripping my characters of hope until they more or less have major depressive disorder.

    Such devices will remain dark so long as we are still sensitised to despair.

  6. #36
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    I find that definitions in general are loose and vague at best, no matter where one apply them (yes, they're better applied in some instances than others), but a genre definition is a general application and runs the risk of misleading potential readers. Saying a fic is "dark" has its connotations for most people, but as this thread clearly shows, people have different conceptions of what a "dark" fic is, thus classifying one as such creates potential misunderstanding. A likewise comparison: Whenever I see a book, movie or whatever that's labeled as "sci.fi.", I have a tendency to instantly think that it involves space travel and such. But then I see it, and if it doesn't, I suddenly realize "oh, sci.fi. is more than that". While I do indeed know it is more than space travel, I have preconceptions that create expectations, and these expectations define my personal connotations of certain words and definitions, and thus I may be expecting something different than what you will see.

    As a result, while definitions can be made, they are nothing but personal, subjective definitions; they describe the connotations of a word that you've made up, as opposed to an objective denotation, which I believe does not exist. If I were to give an answer, it is that I, outwardly, try not to define anything as dark, as it does, in a way, only hold a meaning to me personally (that isn't to say classification isn't good, rather much on the contrary, but I prefer less subjectively defined terms, or more specific ones). While I have my personal definition (as defined in an earlier post), I have to admit it seems to me to have little value since others are likely to not see it entirely the same as me.

    From certain philosophical viewpoints, it can thus be argued that the definition "dark" itself does not exist (abstract personal connotations does not lead to an interpersonal concept that's definable - thus it is but a vaguely relatable concept with no intrinsic value for anyone when exchanged - it has only intrapersonal value). But I'll leave it at that, because I'm kind of moving away from the point of this thread; to probe people for what they define as "dark" (to clear eventual misunderstandings, I personally do indeed find value in discussing these kinds of things).
    unrepentantAuthor likes this.

  7. #37
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    Default Re: What makes a fic dark?

    I tend to think of a "dark" story as one that has more, well, dark subject matter. Stories that bring up heavy topics and psychological issues, where you can't quite split the world into good or evil are what I tend to think of as dark.

    But a dark vs light story is also about tone. The cartoon, Avatar the Last Airbender dealt with heavy, dark subject matter, but because they kept the tone light, even in the darkest moments the show wasn't 'dark'. Pokemon Special is darker than Pokemon because it involves deaths that people don't come back from, suffering, murder, deep, serious subject matter. A story is light if it has that optimistic tone, even in the dark, sad moments. A story is dark if it delves into the darkness of a story and deals with the deep, the dark, the nitty gritty.

    But that's just my view.
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