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Author Topic: Heart of Darkness  (Read 814 times)

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Heart of Darkness
« on: August 20, 2016, 09:19:05 AM »
I know that there is plenty of darkness in Fantasy - how could there not be? And so I shouldn't be surprised at writing it, but somehow, I am. I just wrote the darkest material I've ever written - probably nowhere near as dark as many others, but for me, this is exceptionally unpleasant.

And though I knew it was coming, I still find myself in a disrupted state of mind. Up until now, my "gray" characters remained "white", and its got me bummed. I wanted darkness in the story, but like my main character, I find myself whining "But did the darkness have to be so ... dark?!"

My protag met a woman, Azialeia, and they became friends, and at their parting she said something unexpected, that she's a Dvellion, a version of a fairy from childrens' stories - a ridiculous notion my protag attributed to the awkwardness of goodbyes. She told him to read about them if he ever succeeds in his goal of joining the powerful wizard order called The Year.

I think my issue stems from the fact that, unlike dragons burning cities, my darkness is both behind, around, and ahead of us in this world. This is what I wrote:

Remembering Azialeia’s farewell, I went looking in the library for references on Dvellions, but I found none. This did not surprise me – the collection focused on matters and subjects of import, and few things seemed less important than children’s tales. Dvellions were nothing more than the northern version of the fairies that delighted children in the south, and so failed to meet that threshold.

When I asked Spathas about Dvellions, he looked at me askance. “Why are you interested in them?”

“Oh,  I met a girl on the road who told me she was a Dvellion, and I thought that strange. I decided I would read about them, but I couldn’t find any books about them in the literature sections.”

Spathas shook his head and smiled. “Of course not. They aren’t listed under literature. They’re listed under politics.”

“Whatever for?”

“Because Dvellions were real people, the original people, really. They fell into ruin some seven hundred years ago, but some remnants remain in hiding, I’m sure. They were our earliest and most successful employment of Derogation.”

“What is that?”

“Derogation is the elimination of a people, their past, and, more importantly, their future.”

My mouth hung open.

Spathas shook his head. “As an emissary, I was taught many things that lie outside the commonly held views of history. The fate of the Dvellions is the premiere example of a Derogation used to successfully eliminate a troubling group. The Dvellions were a nuisance. They were an old race whose history dates back to the very beginning, long-lived and gifted with perfect memories, but of course, that was the issue. People with long memories are not the sort of people the Year is inclined to appreciate, given our habit of tailoring history to suit our purposes.”

I  couldn’t imagine why such a practice would be bothered with. I never looked at history as something anyone cared about enough to change. “What did we do with them?”

“We killed them all, and we either destroyed or altered all references to them.” Spathas delivered this news as lightly as if I had asked him about weeds plucked from the roadside. "We erased them from the world, and then from history."

I stood there in shock as Spathas went on, as he always did when discussing history.

“Well, most of them. The Year betrayed and exterminated them, but some escaped, of course. Exterminating an entire people is difficult – they have a way of running and scattering. Their Derogation was a measure to prevent the resurgence of any survivors. It reduced them from an ancient people with knowledge and power to laughable, winged sprites in children’s stories, hiding behind thistles and teaching the birds to sing. Brilliant, really.”
The Gem Cutter
"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline ArhiX

Re: Heart of Darkness
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2016, 12:08:14 PM »
"Our predecessors killed a bunch of people, almost eradicated an entire race, because we wanted to cover up some hoaxes. Why you asking? LoL"

I think... I'm as surprised as the main character is.

I'm also using this topic in my own work (the genocide) multiple times, but there's no children's tales about them. Only nightmares. Your story is not as dark, as you think it is, or I just read too much grimdark lately, OR... You are not telling us everything :F

The idea itself is dark. Genocide of entire race is not a topic to be taken lightly. But what I actually felt the most, was this ease with which Spathas spoke about it. Like it was some kind "funny thing" from the past. The darkness of the story does not come from the topic. We have funny movies about killing people (Hot Shots - anyone) sometimes even set in times of WW2. The true heart of darkness lays inside the people - characters from your story.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2016, 12:09:52 PM by ArhiX »
"The world is full of stories, and from time to time, they permit themselves to be told."

Offline TBM

Re: Heart of Darkness
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2016, 12:11:59 PM »

What's not so brilliant is that Spathas is casually telling this to a guy who is clearly shocked, who clearly isn't indoctrinated or prepared enough to hear it, and who is allowing this dude in a library containing this kind of mindblowing information. That seems like a reckless state of affairs that could easily backfire.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2016, 12:36:25 PM by TBM »

Offline JMack

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Re: Heart of Darkness
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2016, 05:26:19 PM »
Dragons burning cities can be dark because of the depiction of human pain and suffering.
But it becomes truly darker when a person brought on the attack through greed, and even darker when people make selfish choices about saving themselves or their treasures. (Hobbit book and movies, anyone?)

I can understand availing at the thought of genocide and then relegation (was that your word?). (See Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana for a similar concept to relegation.) the particular passage doesn't feel dark as a reader, but I see your point about where this has been and where it might be going.

Jerzy Kosinski's novel of the holocaust "The Painter Bird"'deals with genocide, of course, but in a unique way. The MC is a boy (10?) who is brutalized in the countryside by person after person and loses his ability to speak. (This always autobiographical l). Several times in the book, trains pass by with box cars from which the boy sees hands thrust out and moans. Kosinski's concept is that the horror of genocide is too great for most people to grasp. But if you show little horrors, while referring obliquely to greater ones, then the greater ones are put into perspective. The book climaxes with a fight in which a spoon, a bottle, and an eye ball connect in very bad ways.

I agree that the framing to your wrk is very dark. I think you'll benefit by finding small horrors to reveal this.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)

Offline Peat

Re: Heart of Darkness
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2016, 05:59:21 PM »

Maybe I'm wired wrong but my response to genocide on a fantasy race is nothing. I'm more upset by Jmack's mower being broke. Until it happens to someone, its not real. Its not dark. Just a thing. Just a plot point.

Darkness in books is what happens to the characters, not to the world.