Sunday, July 28, 2013

Some like it DARK

Most fiction writers put a lot of themselves into their hero/heroine. They either draw from their own life experiences when the character faces trials, or they endow the lead with some of their own characteristics. You have to invest a lot of time into your protagonist, to make them likable, interesting, and readable. Then you have to make the plot thicken so here comes the conflicts, the antagonist/villain, or natural disaster to liven things up a bit. So as a writer one has to do some pretty terrible things to their beloved characters. Which in itself is a little twisted if you think about it. It's like tormenting yourself, tearing out your own heart and soul and punishing one you love for the enjoyment of others. Yep, we authors are a sick twisted bunch.
In my series the "Children of Cain" my heroine, Gwenevere, goes through quite a lot to put it mildly. But for me, the dark nature of her reality is what gives the series a sense of realism. I, like many before me, have drawn heavily from my own life when creating my literary fantasy land. And although my childhood was not an easy one, I attribute the person I am today to my ability to overcome and learn from past mistakes and trials. To me a story such as mine wouldn't be realistic without the darkness. Her strength of character wouldn't shine forth without the obstacles to push her to find greatness within herself. So, although I love and worship my little sarcastic green-eyed Witch (Gwen) I have to push her to the breaking point time and time again.

Before publishing the first book ("The Forsaken") in the series, I had a group of beta readers give me some notes. However, a few felt that there was too much darkness in the subject matter. Some objected to certain "bad" characters in the book not understanding why they had to be a part of the story or why Gwen had to go through these terrible things.

Something all writers understand, but not all readers do, is that every obstacle, every plot turn along the journey is carefully orchestrated to develop the character or to move the story along. There is a reason Gwen has to go through these things, it's all to turn her into the person she needs to be by the end of the series when she has to make some pretty hard choices.

One of my favorite dark tales is "The Black Jewels" series by Anne Bishop. A great read if you like Fantasy, dark magi,c and amazing world building. I've noticed that the books that I truly enjoy are the ones that aren't afraid to go into dark places and expose the weaknesses of their world. However, they often end with a message of hope that seems to reiterate the saying, "There can be no light without the dark."

But what do you think? Do you like things on the dark side or do you prefer to keep the mood light? What are your favorite books? Whether dark or light, share them in the comments. Now go forth and read, love, and enjoy life. Till next weekend.

R.J. Craddock