Come to the Dark Side. We’ve got STORIES: A Blast from the Past

Musing a bit here but back when I got started, late 80’s to early 90’s, the music I listened to was all of a piece (bear with me.  I’m going somewhere here).  Love songs and ballads, lightweight pop music, that sort of stuff.  The fiction I read was mostly, almost entirely, pretty upbeat as well.  As one example, I got so bothered, so freaked by the “danger” to the protagonist in the late Harry Harrison’s “The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge” that I nearly dropped the book.  I got through it and ended up reading it and the rest of the series, but it was a close thing.  I couldn’t really deal with the darker elements of life, not even in fiction and music.

This showed in my own writing.  I never really put my characters in jeopardy (EMT was probably the most “risk” I put my characters through at that time).  And when I tried, I tended to shy away from expressing it vividly.

The result was rather weak writing.  I was able to sell some stuff if I had a clever enough gimmick but that was about it.

More recently, I’ve gained an appreciation for the dark.  John Ringo’s books have introduced me to power and gothic/symphonic metal.  And that was really a catalyst.  The fear, the outright terror for the fate of the characters one is reading, is what makes for powerful fiction.  Back when I was in sunshine land I could not have written “Plague Station” (still looking for a few beta readers if anyone’s interested).  I had the idea for “Oruk Means Hard Work” years ago but I couldn’t have written it because I couldn’t have written the ending, the way it had to end.

There’s a great line from a movie that was otherwise, IMO, pretty lame:  if you want to paint pictures like that, you’ve got to use some dark colors.

So don’t be afraid of the dark.  Embrace it.  Use it.  Therein lies great power for your fiction.

Thus ends this musing.

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