Grim/dark = realistic? Where did this idea come from? - Page 3


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Thread: Grim/dark = realistic? Where did this idea come from?

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I don't get why you seem dead set on conflating dark fiction with hopelessness. Some dark fiction is non-stop brutality and ugliness, and yes maybe nihilistic...but believe it or not that isn't every story, or even most. It's certainly not the ones that are worth reading.
    A big part of what I'm trying to say is exactly that--dark fiction does not have to be nihilistic. I know that isn't every story. I like a good dose of darkness in fiction. But I see a lot of emphasis as of late on deconstructing heroic tropes but letting the classic evil tropes stand. The selectivity is just very, very, odd. And there are many flat-out nihilistic works, but there's also this general movement toward it which can only be gathered from looking at a bunch of different things.

    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I'm not sure if you have actually read King's original novel of The Shining but the ending is actually surprisingly optimistic: Danny Torrance and his mother escape The Overlook and Danny, who starts off the book, makes a real friend in Halloran (not sure if I spelled that right) and with all things considered it's a happy ending of sorts. It's certainly not a 'monochrome of hopelessness'. There's even a kind of redemptive arc with Jack - a lot of internal struggle and pathos. If the movie differs (and it does) that's a reflection on the problem of adapting a huge novel into a horror movie - there is less depth and nuance and more emphasis on shock. But we are talking about books, right?
    I was responding to the movie, not the book. Would like to read it at some point. Screenwriting is writing, too. Mainly I was responding to what the person who liked the movie told me, which implicated that it was more "real" than, for example, Nightmare on Elm Street, simply because it was depressing.

    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Similarly, I don't understand why you seem to believe that reflecting happy or optimistic aspects of the world condemns your work to be labeled idealistic or in any way 'lesser'. One of my favorite books is Hemingway's The Old Man And The Sea. It's a fairly optimistic novel, on the whole. Arguably, it's actually a Christian novel - there's a lot of references and themes - and moments of joy. But it hits home and is utterly, in my opinion, authentic. It's not idealistic at all and nobody would say it's naive.
    I see people dismiss stories, usually older stories, for being not "realistic" enough. In fantasy, Lord of the Rings seems to be the go-to, and is often dismissed for being too morally black and white, too idealistic, etc. (very strange for that particular mythos, which is actually rather melancholic and often dark). Game of Thrones is no more realistic than Lord of the Rings. Or, to use your example, any of the usual misery fiction I might read in a modern literary magazine is no more realistic than The Old Man And The Sea.

    Also, thank you for bringing up authenticity. I think this is probably a better word than "realism," because you could have a fairy tale set in a completely imaginary universe that still feels authentic.

    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    The main thing is to achieve balance. Idealism happens when your stories feature sappy love scenes with radiant sunsets and everybody is basically a good person with good motivations and the whole story is just unbalanced. Idealism is a Hallmark greeting card or a grocery store romance or the end of a 1960's Disney movie. Idealism is when there's no bite of real, practical problems - when the princess is always made up and the prince never has B.O. Avoiding that should be common sense.
    Agree for the most part. Obviously fiction needs a conflict. Don't necessarily need to bring up every day problems like B. O., especially in fantasy, but even the old Disney princess movies had scary villains and intense scenes (other than maybe Cinderella blech. no offense if you like that film).
    "So long is the way to the unknown, long is the way we have come. . ." ~ Turisas, Five Hundred and One

    "[An artist is] an idiot babbling through town. . .crying, 'Dreams, dreams for sale! Two for a kopek, two for a song; if you won't buy them, just take them for free!'" ~ Michael O' Brien,
    Sophia House

    Christ is risen from the dead,
    trampling on Death by death,
    And on those in the tombs,
    lavishing light.



  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Megan Pearson View Post
    However, if there really are things like ultimate value, truth, goodness, and morality, and if life is more than this physical world, then there exists the potential for us as human beings to become more than we really are. Then the normalization of values and morality comes from without; our standard is no longer ourselves. The result is, we become responsible for the consequences for our actions. Everything, then (by necessity), becomes accountable to something outside of ourselves.

    The truth is, our view of reality doesn't change reality.

    What matters is if we are in-line with that reality.


    Soli Deo Gloria.
    Yes! And it's that accountability that gives life, and fiction, its "bite." Without actions which have ultimate effects, not only is life meaningless, it's boring! And it makes for boring fiction.
    "So long is the way to the unknown, long is the way we have come. . ." ~ Turisas, Five Hundred and One

    "[An artist is] an idiot babbling through town. . .crying, 'Dreams, dreams for sale! Two for a kopek, two for a song; if you won't buy them, just take them for free!'" ~ Michael O' Brien,
    Sophia House

    Christ is risen from the dead,
    trampling on Death by death,
    And on those in the tombs,
    lavishing light.



  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord View Post
    A big part of what I'm trying to say is exactly that--dark fiction does not have to be nihilistic. I know that isn't every story. I like a good dose of darkness in fiction. But I see a lot of emphasis as of late on deconstructing heroic tropes but letting the classic evil tropes stand. The selectivity is just very, very, odd. And there are many flat-out nihilistic works, but there's also this general movement toward it which can only be gathered from looking at a bunch of different things.
    Can you give me an example of a book (not a movie or TV adaption of a book - screenwriting is writing too but the director, not the writer, has creative authority over the tone of the film) that is you think is wholly nihilistic?

    The reason I ask is because I get a sense that possibly your definition of what constitutes nihilism is just very different to mine. I consider a story nihilistic if it promotes the philosophy that life is inherently meaningless. The key word there is promotes - I think there's a really important difference between a dark fiction story that simply explores nihilism and a story that is actually nihilistic.

    Example: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. That is definitely a dark story and various forms of post-apocalyptic inhumanity are ever-present (as they are in most McCarthy). On its surface, the book is fairly horrible. It's a really disturbing, horrible world and McCarthy pulls no punches/ I know several people who don't like it for exactly this reason.

    What those folks are missing (and, may I suggest, what you yourself may be missing) is that underneath all this, the story is not at all about hopelessness. On the contrary, the endurance of hope is actually the main theme. It's a story about family, love, bravery, etc...all those nice things that are the total opposite of nihilism. This strange contradiction is why it's a good book.

    If more books seem nihilistic now than in the past I suggest it's because (a) There's a lot more books being published now, so there's more diversity of stories generally and (b) Readers expect to be challenged and in order to present a challenge the material needs to explore new things, and historically there has been a lot of censorship and antipathy toward sex, violence, etc.

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    The reason I ask is because I get a sense that possibly your definition of what constitutes nihilism is just very different to mine. I consider a story nihilistic if it promotes the philosophy that life is inherently meaningless. The key word there is promotes - I think there's a really important difference between a dark fiction story that simply explores nihilism and a story that is actually nihilistic.
    Yeah, there is a difference between promoting and exploring. I mentioned earlier one of my favorite A Hill to Die Upon albums which explores nihilism but ultimately does not promote it. I'm talking more about a general drift towards nihilism represented by the claim (going back to the original argument) that "darker and grittier" equals real, and that heroic ideals are imaginary. It is pretty hard to have a purely nihilistic piece of fiction because meaninglessness ultimately destroys narrative and you end up with art like John Cage's 4'33'' score. Into the Woods (the play, never saw the movie), maybe? "Everything is pointless, but I guess it's all okay, because... eff it it's a musical and we need a happy ending." That's what I got at least.

    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    If more books seem nihilistic now than in the past I suggest it's because (a) There's a lot more books being published now, so there's more diversity of stories generally and (b) Readers expect to be challenged and in order to present a challenge the material needs to explore new things, and historically there has been a lot of censorship and antipathy toward sex, violence, etc.
    Hmm I'm not sure that's the reason. Quantify what you mean by historically. . .there have been many periods over time when sex and violence were prevalent in art. It's not really a new thing. There's sex and violence in the Bible. . . I don't think people are writing grim stories just because they couldn't in the past.
    "So long is the way to the unknown, long is the way we have come. . ." ~ Turisas, Five Hundred and One

    "[An artist is] an idiot babbling through town. . .crying, 'Dreams, dreams for sale! Two for a kopek, two for a song; if you won't buy them, just take them for free!'" ~ Michael O' Brien,
    Sophia House

    Christ is risen from the dead,
    trampling on Death by death,
    And on those in the tombs,
    lavishing light.



  5. #25
    I don't understand why everyone hates nihilism so much it's the closest thing to the truth that isn't the ​Truth.
    Dead by Dawn!

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Rotten View Post
    See, before Private Ryan, directors took great pains to stabilize cameras.
    But then Spielberg showed them a new way to tell a gritty story...then all of a sudden everyone was using shaky cameras.
    That was nextgen for cinematography.
    I wanna do that to writing.
    What, shaky handwriting?
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by BornForBurning View Post
    The idea that cruelty or harshness even exists is a value judgement.

    I subjectively disagree. I think this type of grimness is a product of a society that has lost its way in the universe. It reminds me of a man wandering through a black forest, occasionally encountering light and taking joy in it, but never trying to follow the light itself.

    I honestly feel like we learn more about human nature by reading pulp and fluff than we do from reading 'deep' intellectual writing. Another important thing to note is that 'gritty' and 'grounded' don't equate to grimdark.
    I just finished Nora Roberts', "Sanctuary." I guess it's a romance, but really, it falls squarely in the camp of "Suspense/Thriller," but she's very typecast as a romance author. Not that it doesn't pay the bills for her, because it obvious does, but it was a book with some real teeth. I was pretty impressed.

  8. #28
    I have a theory that some readers (like myself) have a relatively low tolerance for happenstance, and that grim dark provides a lot of randomness and chaos (or the appearance of such) that we become willing to turn a blind eye to the main tropes of the story (refusal of the call, mythical helpers, the inciting incident, a dark night of the soul matching a failure obtaining the goal, blah blah blah). Throw me subplot cutoff halfway by a murder or something, and I'll be delighted by the surprise and willing to go along with the main plot a little easier.

  9. #29
    I have a theory that some readers (like myself) have a relatively low tolerance for happenstance
    A good writer should be able to avoid making their plot points feel like happenstance.
    Dead by Dawn!

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by BornForBurning View Post
    A good writer should be able to avoid making their plot points feel like happenstance.
    No doubt

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