The Storyteller Reports: Is There Too Much Darkness In Today’s Fiction?

I am pressed for time, so I will speak swiftly. For those of you wondering about the FastPencil edition of The Quest, it’s still rebelling against me. It won’t publish. I’m working on it, but I’m also juggling college coursework.

In the meantime, I want to leave just a thought today. Have you ever gotten the feeling that a lot of modern fiction tends to be grim and violent? I was writing on Friday about why I put down Watchmen in favor of more optimistic literature. Now I’m wondering whether Watchmen and other dark tales have too much power in today’s storytelling landscape.

Look at movies like The Dark KnightThe Road, and A Prophet. They were all critically acclaimed and all full of deadly moral choices. Think about the works of Cormac McCarthy, or Stephen King, or even Brad Thor. Think about The Hunger Games. Think about Twilight, even. The Wall Street Journal uncovers a brutal trend in YA novels that turns my stomach.

We still have our Harry Potters and our Frodo Bagginses. I don’t hear such hopeful works discussed in the same tone. Films like The Help, and books likeHotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, rake in plenty of cash, and people say they love them, but they don’t carry the same weight as The Godfather or a drug addict’s new book.

The message that I am being sent is this: successful, serious fiction needs to be dark. If you want to be successful and seriously considered in your literature, you have to focus on the dark side of humanity. Inspirational stories, or stories with pure good and evil, are lightweight and don’t merit as much esteem.

Am I right?

***

Hello! I don’t know if you heard, but this blog is moving to a new one. It’ll have all the same weekly features, and news about The Kingdom Trilogy. It will also acknowledge the other projects that I dip my toes in. Check it out here. I’ll post the weekly features on both sites for a while, but before long I’ll make the full transition to the new site.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful day!

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Twitter: A Novel In The Making

I used to think Twitter was stupid. Then I thought it was a hub for great links and one-liners. And then came a couple of conversations that blew me away.

Here’s the first one.

“Fireworks are beautiful. Bright, untamed, dangerous… I wish my soul looked like one of those things. #imnotjokingaround

stinginthetail Sheila NomNomDePlume

@TheKingdomBooks fireworks don’t last – souls are eternal”

Wow. When I read that tweet, I had to sit back in my chair for a minute. I had to do some thinking. It’s one of the most unexpected and profound things I’ve ever read in my life. Period.

Could you take some time to check out Sheila’s amazing blog?

Moving on, that same day a college friend went after one of my tweets in a thought-provoking exchange…

TheKingdomBooks Sean Matthew McGuire

“So I was thinking. What would it take to make you travel far away from your home, on a job that might kill you? #question #motivation #life

CrazyColinKelly Colin Kelly

@TheKingdomBooks Well, coercian for the good, reward for the apathetic, and miscief for the evil. #ThinkLikeAVillian

@CrazyColinKelly Couldn’t a good man choose, too? And would an apathetic man care about reward?”

@TheKingdomBooks if you want to give a good man a choice, then Duty. I’d rather not afford him that choice as he can change his mind.”

@CrazyColinKelly But is a good man truly good if he does not have a choice?”

@TheKingdomBooks you have a choice to not be good? What happens when you aren’t? Isnt being evil more of a choice? #thinkvillian

@CrazyColinKelly OF COURSE YOU HAVE A CHOICE!!! WHERE DO YOU THINK STORIES CAME FROM IN THE FIRST PLACE?!”

@CrazyColinKelly And evil is only more of a choice when the chooser does not understand good. Like when it’s hollow and tied to a culture.”

@TheKingdomBooks Dude, playing devils advocate here. But my point is that it’s really easy to be complacent, not Good. And usually (cont)”

@TheKingdomBooks (cont) when we hear about the ability to choose, its for the ability to choose evil. We could play puppets, but we (cont)”

@TheKingdomBooks (cont) have been given the ability of Free Will, Puppets naturally choose Good, Free will allows Evil choices #ThinkVillian

@TheKingdomBooks Let’s say someone knows and understands Good and Evil and procedes to do an evil act in free will Did they not choose evil?”

@CrazyColinKelly Yes. But they can choose good just as freely. It is therefore foolish to say evil is “more” of a choice.”

@CrazyColinKelly And Puppets cannot naturally choose good, because by their nature they cannot choose anything.”

It never hit me until then about the power of Twitter. It puts a funny feeling in my gut. We are part of a living novel, day in and day out. We’re having conversations like this. I’ve interacted with writers in Stockholm, London, and all over the U.S.A. After centuries of isolation, the nations of the world keep growing closer together.

Have you ever thought about the age you’re living in? How might someone write about your times, two centuries from now? Can you imagine the post you’re reading right now as part of some exciting new technology that pushes civilization forward?

If that’s not a story worth reading, I don’t know what is.