Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Trend Toward Darker Fantasy

darkeness-withinMuch of fantasy written today is darker in nature than what was popular in the 1950s and earlier. Most often that trend is attributed to harder economic times with literature acting as a mirror of our collective economic well-being. But beyond that, I’ve often wondered about  the social implications of this shift in fantasy content. Recently, I read an interesting article by Diane Wing, entitled “Embrace the Darkness Within,” published in OM Times Magazine earlier this month. That article helped answer my question. She claims we need to embrace the dark side in order to survive. 

The dark side of humanity need not be evil; it is a source of power just as love is.  The dark force energies allow us to defend, to avoid negativity, to prevent injustice, and to remove energies that do not serve us on our path.  Love can create brightness and the dark forces can create personal power that when embraced, acknowledged, and honed, can show us the way to stand up for what we believe and to come more fully into ourselves.

Allowing fantasy fiction to illustrate the darker sides of human life helps readers explore and consider these darker energies in a safe environment. Just as fiction often contains positive themes that serve to model ethical and moral behavior, so too does exposing the shadows teach life skills.

This can be likened to the balance of Yin and Yang, masculine and feminine. We each possess light and dark within our natures to different degrees. Exploring both of those sides in the controlled environment of a fantasy story provides a safe means for an individual to learn about himself/herself and be more in tune to that balance. Opening to that delivers powerful  knowledge of the self, providing the impetus for personal development and self-improvement.  The darkness serves as a catalyst for growth.  The darkness is only detrimental when you choose to stay within it and not strive for the glimmer of light that waits on the other side.  The darkness of fantasy fiction helps us to reject that which is not appropriate to our well-being and serves to show us where we need development. 

Additionally, writing fantasy fiction with attention to dark forces makes the story more believable, one a reader can relate to more easily. According to Wing, “Even love has its dark side, such as jealousy or hatred, while darkness has its light by way of defending and protecting.  Everything is a blend.  Nothing is pure.  We are a mixture of all energies.  This gives us depth and the ability to create in a multitude of ways.” Allowing our fantasy characters to embrace that depth adds richness to the writing.

While darker fantasy plots and characters do reflect our economy and remind us of hardships, there is a greater good that lies within this trend—a balance of light and dark.
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Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous epic fantasy romance: Book One, SEEKING A SCRIBE, and Book Two, HERITAGE AVENGED. She has also authored the Ciel's Legacy series, with fast action mermaid/pirate storylines: TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE and TORTUGA TREASURE.  For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

1 comment:

Ella Gray said...

Such a great point, Marsha. I tend to like fantasy and UF that has an edgy and darker quality, but it only really impresses me when there is enough lightness/humor/etc. to even things out.

On the flip side, if a story is meant to be very light-hearted, it still looses some of its enjoyment for me when there's nothing dark countering that to give it depth.

I guess balance is good :)

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