When A Series Goes Dark

The Darkness from Supernatural

The Darkness from Supernatural

As I said a few times, Legends of Windemere: Ritual of the Lost Lamb gets very dark.  Remember the light-hearted fun of Luke’s first few adventures and you’ll see a stark difference in tone.  There was violence and pain, but nothing to the scale that you’re going to see.  Mostly because at least one character is going to get tortured.  It’s hard to retain the light when you go down this path.

Did I always intend to do this?  Not when I first thought up the series.  It was going to stay fluffy and light from beginning to end, which changed as I grew up.  Maybe a level of cynicism crept into things or it was just the natural progression.  One day I realized that these heroes couldn’t go through so many adventures without earning a few scars and eventually hitting a point where their luck runs out.  Some would say it had to happen earlier, but I couldn’t get it to work with the temples.  The champions failing one of those would end the prophecy, so the big opening was after them.  Their guard would be down and it would be the perfect time to strike.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about this.  The darkness is one of the reasons I keep feeling like something is wrong.  Last time I tried to edit the book, I found that I was attempting to soften things and that caused damage.  Guess I’m a little scared to go this far since there are people who still think this is a pure Young Adult book.  Then again, I’ve read some YA with stuff as bad as this.  We really do need to give teenagers more credit with these things.  Unless I’m thinking New Adult since I get those two mixed up.  Either way, I’m anxious that the tone will causes trouble.

Another factor here is that I’m not writing the characters like they’re unaware of the heaviness of the situation.  There are some jokes and antics, but the champions start the story with a gaping wound.  Some of them are depressed, some are impatient, and some are about ready to tear the planet in half.  Timoran is the only one with his head on straight, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.  So there are some cracks forming in the group and trust isn’t as high as it used to be.  With the character interactions being a main selling point of the series, it’s tough to do this to them.  I fear that readers might not accept what’s going on or give up because I’ve gone too far.

Now, I’ll be talking about that last part next week.  Yet, I will say that going too far is in the eye of the beholder.  I remember some people complaining that I didn’t go far enough.  I’m sure I’ll get another set swearing I crossed a line.  It’s another factor that makes this step into the shadows even harder.  Maybe I’m overthinking this too.  It’s entirely possible that my emotional connection to the characters makes it feel worse than it is.  Then again, my proofreader (mom) quickly pointed out that it’s darker in tone.  Something tells me this is going to cost me some sleep.

What do you think about series that take a dark turn?  Does it work if it makes sense and there’s a sign that things will lighten up later?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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36 Responses to When A Series Goes Dark

  1. twixie13 says:

    I tend to like when a lighter series gradually veers into darker territory, especially when there’s some level of hope amongst the darkness and all. It gives a sense of balance, I think. I can definitely understand how much messing with various character relationships can hurt, though. *looks to one particular bromance in her own stuff*

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    • I agree. It opens the doors for new developments and can revive a few stale areas. Darkness is also a useful tool to altering a character’s personality. It isn’t very believable for one to come out of a nightmare-like situation and act like their old selves. Hoping this isn’t too much of a sudden detour.

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  2. I actually enjoy writing from a darker perspective at times. It’s a good way to let out a lot of bottled angst. 🙂
    I think your readers will understand.
    Good luck, Charles!

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    • Thanks. It definitely helps with the angst removal. Fingers are crossed that people enjoy it though. Then again, I had a villain who was out to rape one of the female protagonists, so I hope what I have planned for this story is seen as ‘not as bad’ as that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bookwraiths says:

    Difficult question to answer. Generally, I like a good mix of light and dark in my stories. They balance themselves out. But if I’ve been reading a series because it is light and fun, then it turns dark I’m not sure how I would react. Suppose it would be yet again about whether the narrative keeps a good balance, so that I do not get too depressed. 😦

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    • Good point. I’m hoping my use of comedy and maintaining a sense that things will come out right in the end carries throughout the story. A lot of it has to deal with the characters pushing forward while suffering losses too, so we’ll see how that goes. I mean, I’ve had a little darkness in this series as time went on (Stephen, sacrifices, betrayals, etc.). Not sure if I had enough to prepare readers for this one.

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  4. It worked for Harry Potter. The first book was kind of Disneyesque. The series didn’t end that way. You might be well served to test a few chapters that go even darker than you had planned. You don’t have to publish them, but it might make the light at the end of the tunnel that much brighter.

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  5. Sometimes when characters have been under a certain amount of stress the darkness can’t help but creep in. I think it is a natural progression of things going from bad to worse until the final episode is complete and the story progression is over.

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  6. nairama says:

    I think there’s a certain amount of darkness that is required to make light, and especially heroism, visible. If it is consistent with the story, and is a feasable consequence of backsground and previous events.

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    • Thanks. Background and previous events have been heading towards this. Still, it’s hard to tell this late in a series since many readers might be more used to a higher dose of ‘light’ and humor. Either way, it seems to be a gamble even if it stays in line with the story.

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  7. L. Marie says:

    It’s never easy. But you have to go in the direction the story takes you. I wanted to write lighthearted romps. But so far sad or dark elements creep in. They just feel right to me though.

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  8. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been known to stop reading a series if it gets too dark. I’ll flip through the book quickly, then put it away and never touch the series again.
    I might be in the minority, I’ll still read the end of your series when I get the chance though.

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    • That’s what I’m worried about. I learned a while back that some people saw my stuff as Young Adult, which I never intended. So as things darkened and matured, I began to get complaints that it was no longer for children. It’s also tough to figure out what each person’s definition of dark is. I could be shouting warnings about something other people are fine with.

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      • Personally I just like stuff that isn’t as dark and that doesn’t have too strong of a romance angle in it. I don’t mind some darkness, it’s just the gore I dislike.
        I’ve never thought of your work as young adult, by the way.

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      • I guess it does start lighter and fluffier, which is a YA feel. I’ve kind of been the opposite. At least with books, I can handle gore better than darkness. Got nothing on the romance one since I see love and relationships as great sources of development.

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      • Don’t get me wrong, some romance is okay, as I s some darkness and a little gore, but once you start splitting open heads in one chapter and have the next an explicit sex scene just for shock value, I quit reading.
        A normal romance can evolve the characters, I quite agree, but some authors go a little heavy.
        I admit I’m a little behind reading your books, but you seem to have a nice balance worked out.

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      • Got it. Never been a fan of explicit sex scenes, so at least I don’t have to worry about that. Then again, I’ve seen people point at making out as hardcore. How can a story go so quickly from violence to sex with no buffer in the middle?

        The romances in my books have claimed pieces of the core. The love triangle is something I probably won’t attempt again since I hate the classic version and my variation with an opening relationship wasn’t met very well. Still, it got the characters involved to where I wanted them. I think when I started having the characters think about what life would be like after their final battle, I put a little more attention on the romance side.

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      • That makes perfect sense how you did it.
        I actually read a book where a couple could barely wait for the bloody battle to be over before tearing their clothes off, some kind of blood fetish or something I guess, it was very bizarre.
        Love triangles are very hard to get right in books, judging from the few I’ve read, that said, I can easily see where they can be used to further the plot and flesh out a character.

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      • I guess that works if they established the fetish beforehand. Although it sounds like one that you could only indulge a few times before it gets you killed.

        The problem with modern love triangles is that they follow the same points. It’s nearly always the first match that remains at the end even if cheating was involved. You have the same conversations too. Then there’s the take on it. Two girls and one guy makes him either wishy-washy or a horn dog. Two guys and one girl makes her conflicted and loved. This is why I tried the open relationship path. All three characters went into it willingly and there wasn’t going to be much friction until a choice had to be made. The fact that it went south is just due to the three characters being immature.

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  9. I guess for me it depends if the series is episodic or a continuous arc. Episodic series will always return to their starting point. Changes in the story are seldom permanent. An arc carries the assumption that change will be permanent, for good or ill.

    What’s important is for authors to be honest with the readers. Something devastating should have long term consequences. To do otherwise would be dishonest and the readers will feel that. If your darker turn is logical in light of previous events, I suspect most of your readers will stay with you.

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    • Kind of like the difference between a sitcom and an hour long drama? The hour long has episodes, but an overarching storyline that requires change. Sitcoms tend to be . . . well, situational.

      The logic definitely leads to this and the remaining darkness that is within the last 2 books. I’ve compared Book 13 with a marathon runner pulling a muscle within sight of the finish line. Although, the champions can’t stop for medical attention at this point and more is on the line than a gold medal. Not one of my best analogies.

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  10. I find it’s a natural progression of a storyline sometimes. I, too, have darkness in my book. I knew there was going to be some but I wasn’t sure how far it would go. Now, I’m seeing a different path ahead. I think it will make the story stronger. Sometimes, as you said, it just has to be in order for them to win the light in the end. Your stories sound intriguing! I’m still getting around to them.

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  11. Pingback: Writing Links 3/27/17 – Where Genres Collide

  12. Thea says:

    A little darkness is great for character growth. It’s really hard for me to read books where the main character doesn’t overcome at least one major hardship that changes them in subtle ways.

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