Is my story to dark?

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  • #36299
    Sarah Inkdragon
    @sarah-inkdragon

    Hello everyone! I’ve got a bit of a dilemma going on. So, my fantasy WIP, the first in a trilogy, is finally kicking off, I’ve got a writing calendar of how words I need to write a day to finish the first draft(goal of 100,000 words) within a year, and I’m sooo excited.

    However…. I’ve created the characters, the cultures, the worlds, the religions, and everything else, and my story is….(How do I say this…)…. dark. It’s not pretty. It’s intense. It’s not flowers and rainbows, it’s scary sometimes. It’s real.

    And I don’t mean horror movie scary. The theme is love and sacrifice, along with other themes of acceptance, racism, and hope. And I love my book. I love the story, I love the characters, I love everything about it. It’s my story.

    But on another note, it’s a book I’d recommend for 15+. It’s got scary things in it. Not witchcraft, or things like that, but real elements from our world taken and put into fantasy. Demons. Satan. Blood. Evil. Spiritual warfare, on a physical level.

    Anyway, what I’m trying to say is… I don’t want to change these elements. They’re not graphic most of the time, not overly creepy or weird, but they are there. As a Christian, I know there are demons. I know Satan exists. And I’m not going to leave him out of a story or make him “nicer” just to please people. I’m going to write evil as it is–evil. I’m not going to squish my writing into a generic safe box. I’m going to make it real. Heck, it’s going to be scary sometimes. But I want that. I want to show the immense difference between light and dark. I want to.

    But at the same time… I don’t want my plot to be to dark. What do you guys think? If you’d like, I can give you some short snippets to read over and see what you think.  But please tell me what you think. Do you think it’s to dark?

    Thanks so much! I’m tagging everyone I know…. @daeus-lamb @morreafirebird @filewriter @devastate-lasting @sarah-narnathron @ethryndal @r-m-archer @allison-grace @sageinthemeadow @warrenluther04 @elizabeth @anyone-else

     

    "Come waste your time with me..."

    #36301
    Filewriter
    @filewriter

    @sarah-inkdragon, I would love it if you could put up some snippets. That might help me help you. 😉

    To be honest if you did try to make those dark and scary things “nicer” or “less evil”, I probably wouldn’t read it. Sometimes stories have to cover difficult topics in order for them to be effective. You know what I mean? Still, I think I could give you a better answer if I knew more of what you were talking about.

    Thanks so much for tagging me!

    All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. ~ J. R. R. Tolkien

    #36304
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    @sarah-inkdragon I think that if the darkness is portrayed thoughtfully and carefully and it fits the story and the message you’re trying to send that it’s perfectly fine. Those things do exist, and I think they’re often skimmed over. Have you read This Present Darkness and Out of the Darkness by Frank Peretti? I think those were handled very well in the areas you’re discussing.

    You said that you don’t want it to be dark. I think that so long as you make a clear distinction between the light and the dark and make it very clear that evil has consequences (which I don’t have much doubt you will, hearing what I have in this post) and that the light is in the right and you don’t dwell on the darkness then you should be as safe as you can be. But I think stories that deal with real darkness are going to be heavy and dark to one extent or another because it is inherently an important, weighty topic and it’s not pretty. That’s just something you can’t change.

    I think it should be handled with care (again, reading what I have here I trust you to be careful about it and make God a big part of the writing), but I don’t think it should be made any lighter than it can be without losing its potency, so if making it lighter would lose something from the message then I think it’s better to let it be a little bit dark and let it ring true than to try to soften it.

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. ENFP. Singer.

    #36312
    Sarah Baran
    @ethryndal

    @Sarah-Inkdragon Basically, what @R-M-Archer said.

    You know, I really don’t think a book can be “too dark” if it continually and fiercely shows the light of Christ combating that darkness. We live in a fallen world. Life is harsh. People are sinful. These are facts of life, and diminishing them only diminishes what you’re trying to say about them. That doesn’t mean we ought to be explicit in the darkness, or dwell too heavily on it, as I know you agree—no need to explain every teensy-weensy detail of human depravity, or all the horrible blackness of satanism—but the fact of the matter remains, the more honest you are in your belief of a fallen world, the more it shows just how much we, as a people, need Jesus’ saving grace.

    INTJ ➸ https://thesarcasticelf.wordpress.com/

    #36313
    Sarah Inkdragon
    @sarah-inkdragon

    @filewriter

    I’ll chase down some snippets for you…. And thanks for the feedback!

    @r-m-archer

    Thanks so much! I love Peretti, but I haven’t read those two books of his yet… I have read The Oath and his YA Adventure series, and they’re both pretty intense and dark(especially The Oath) but they were both handled well and satisfying to read.

    The main problem with my novel right now is that I want to make sure the balance is good between light and dark, because I obviously don’t want to linger on the dark to long. But I also want to show it, and not just as a passing reference. I want people to understand just what darkness is, so that they can understand what light is.

    Also, I’m not writing for a Christian audience. Not that I’ll ban you all from reading my books, but this trilogy is geared towards a secular audience. I’ve always found that Christian fantasy is somewhat…. terrible.(Sorry to whoever writes fantasy, send me your book and maybe I’ll change my mind.) Also, I want people other than Christians to read it, because let’s face it–no matter how much you market it, or how pretty your cover is, a non-Christian is never going to pick your book that is specifically marked “Christian Fantasy” over one that promises battles, romance, and dragons. So it’s my goal to create a series that can be enjoyed by both Christians and non-Christians. I want to write all the good stuff–battles, romance, and dragons–but I want it also to be clean. I want to write high epic fantasy that kids can read without their parents having to Google it for bad elements, and watch out for worrisome themes. And on the same note, I want Christians to be able to read it and be able to pick up Christian teachings and Christian elements.

    So naturally, it’s a bit hard to balance the elements. But we’ll get there, whether it takes one year or ten.

    "Come waste your time with me..."

    #36314
    Elizabeth
    @elizabeth

    Hey! I’d definitely be interested in reading this. Sounds epic.

    In regards to your question—one of the greatest aspects of Christianity, to me, is its ability to trump sin darkness itself. That being said, a Christian novel that is—while dark in the beginning—light in the end, despite the pitfalls of sin, reflects not only the reality around us, but the story of the Bible. Really, I see no issue with what you said, but the light and the power of Christ should be shown in the end to reconcile with the sin shown.

    Make sense?

    INTP. Writer of fantasy and sci-fi. Wannabe artist. Anime geek. Merakian.

    #36315
    Sarah Inkdragon
    @sarah-inkdragon

    @ethryndal

    Totally! From a fellow INTJ… I’m a bit… (doesn’t know what to call it) pessimistic(?) sometimes. I see things as they are, and also as they could be. And I want to fix it… but I can’t fix all of it. So I’m going to do my best to show people in both a Christian and secular audience what is wrong with the world. Because if you can’t see it, you can’t fix it, and this world is broken right in two.

    *looks up at rant*

    When did I suddenly become so dramatic? Anyhow, *reverts back to cool, calm INTJ self* sometimes I just don’t understand how other people make it through life. How can they not see how bad everything is? *is utterly confused*

    "Come waste your time with me..."

    #36318
    Sarah Inkdragon
    @sarah-inkdragon

    @elizabeth

    Thanks! Yes, the end, while a bit bittersweet, will be very hopeful. The rest of the books though, especially the middle one, are pretty grim at times. The first is just a bit lighter, because my charries are just coming to realize how bad things are. And then it just goes down from there, until they finally put their heads on straight and actually decide to do something about it.

    "Come waste your time with me..."

    #36321
    Kayla Joy
    @kayla-joy

    @sarah-inkdragon I think if you are writing it for an older audience, then you can write it for an older audience. Don’t hold back because your afraid some young kid is going to read it. And you can write a good fantasy book geared towards a secular audience and still put Christian themes into it. Just look at Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. 🙂

    Red haired Disney Nerd. Proverbs 3:5-6 ENFP-T

    #36324
    Sarah Inkdragon
    @sarah-inkdragon

    @kayla-joy

    Thanks! I love Lotr and The Hobbit. 🙂

    "Come waste your time with me..."

    #36331
    K.M. Small
    @morreafirebird

    @sarah-inkdragon have you been picking through my thoughts? Because I was literally just thinking about this 😛

    Right away, I’d say don’t change the story you’re writing. If the elements are dark, they’re dark. So long as you’re trying to show the Light, that’s okay. Actually, it’s better than okay: people should know that a battle between light and dark is being raged in the world, and it’s awesome that you want to reveal that through your writing.

    As for it being too dark, it definitely depends on the audience. I for one don’t mind reading dark things so long as they’re clean and portrayed exactly as they are: darkness. Some readers might not be as comfortable with it, especially younger ones, so when you do get to marketing the book, you might want to keep that in mind.

    Gillian Bronte Adams does this really well in her Songkeeper Chronicles. Yes, it is Christian fantasy, but I believe it’s done really well and the second book gets pretty dark at the end. It scared me a bit, but the Light balanced it out. Then there’s the third book…which is really depressing (so far), yet the elements of hope make it bearable and powerful.

    So anyway, I think you’re fine. Though if you do want to post snippets or give specific examples of stuff you think might be too dark, just tag me and I’ll give my thoughts 😀

    ~ Khylie
    "Beauty will save the world." - Dostoevsky

    #36344
    Sarah Inkdragon
    @sarah-inkdragon

    @morreafirebird

    Thanks! We can be angst buddies… *evil author laugh*

    But yes, I love books where light and dark are portrayed vividly, along with character arcs. A book without character arcs isn’t a book to me. It’s a monologue. Sure, I like reading Nancy Drew or some other generic mystery once in a while, but I’d totally take a character that used to be an assassin struggled with guilt over the many deaths he’s caused any day.

    As for how dark exactly this trilogy is… it’s not dark in the sense of unnecessary killing, gore, etc, but more dark in style, emotion, religion, and other elements. My characters get depressed. One is suicidal the whole series. Another neglects his health and needs for others, thinking their not worth it because they’re a monster–both in blood and reputation. There’s some torture, though nothing to terrible or graphic. There’s mentions of infidelity. There’s real, live demon hoards commanded by their master(guess who he is) trying to take over the world, and killing everyone in their way.

    But at the same time, there’s light. There’s jokes. The good guys win. The bad guys lose–but some of them walk away realizing that maybe something is wrong with the world. The sun shines. People start to see themselves not as monsters, but humans with incredible gifts given to protect others, not harm them. People love. People laugh.

    As for cleanness… I’m not going to lie, people call other people idiots and taunt them. Nothing other that that though, unless it’s some random character *glances around* who likes to make fun of people in foreign languages, or another that will yell at you in long dead languages because he likes the look on people’s faces when he starts speaking senseless gibberish that no one’s ever heard of… *cough* my villain *cough*

    Ya, I don’t mind reading dark things either, all long as it’s not tooo graphic and such. I rather enjoy them, actually. (Call me weird, whatever. I’m an INTJ. I like seeing other people suffer. I am also a writer, so I can take their suffering as novel research.)

    And I seriously need to read the Songkeeper Chronicles! They’ve been on my TBR list waaay to long to be healthy. 😉

     

    "Come waste your time with me..."

    #36348
    Aysia Serene
    @aysia-serene

      I can’t answer your questions, but — when you finish this story, let me know. Just from your description and passion, it sounds phenomenal and well-thought-through and exactly the kind of book I want to read.

      I'm the person you talked to in third grade and never saw again.

      #36351
      Rachel
      @rachelle

        I definitely don’t like getting bogged down and depressed with darkness in stories, but, like others mentioned, I think that’s where the light and hopeful aspects come in to play their part. Don’t let the darkness be the meat of the story; show us the light and the hope that it can be better throughout the story, not just at the end.

        #36352
        Sarah Baran
        @ethryndal

        @Sarah-Inkdragon HA, I feel ya. People call us cynical. I prefer the term “realistic”. :p

        INTJ ➸ https://thesarcasticelf.wordpress.com/

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