This week: Looking to the Dark Side in FantasyEdited by: Dawn Embers
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Fantasy Newsletter by Dawn
A look at the darker side of fantasy and how some horror can be involved in a fantasy story. It's a quick peek into the subgenera of dark fantasy.
October is a month of many things with a particular focus on those related to Halloween. Aside from the onslaught in stores of pumpkin spice and fun sized candy bars, there are many around that decorate in preparation for the spooky seasons or holiday. Even Disney spruces up most of its locations with Halloween based items that are both cheerful and at times dark. There are also writing genres that get a little boost this time of year as attentions gear towards stories like Nightmare Before Christmas and Goosebumps, any new horror movie and haunted mansions. It's not just a label of fantasy either, there is a specific subgenere within speculative fiction geared a little more towards the darker side of things (not just the dark side in Sci-Fi).
What is Dark Fantasy?
The general definition according to a few different web sites including how it is defined on Goodreads is a term used to describe a fantasy story that has a pronounced horror element. At times it is considered synonymous for supernatural horror, which has fantastical elements within a horror based story. Others have different definitions, however, and have used the term in various contexts over the years. Some have even applied the term to high fantasy stories that feature anti-heroic or morally ambiguous protagonists.
Some examples of books labelled as "dark fantasy" on Goodreads include: The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, The Way of Shadows by Brent Week, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Sabriel by Garth Nix and Heir to the Shadow by Anne Bishop.
Common themes are things like shadows, darkness, urban settings and epic struggles like those found in Game of Thrones. There are many different options when it comes to dark fantasy with the plethora of horror methods combined with different ways to write fantasy.
Looking for some ideas and tips on how to write dark fantasy? Here are a couple of sites to peruse that discuss some suggestions on how to write dark fantasy and a couple of rants on what the authors prefer people not to do within the subgenre:
Looking for inspiration? Make sure to check out images on Google, walks around town with the Halloween decorations in October and of course check out some classic literature such as Edgar Allan Poe. Then consider what you want to write in a fantasy story that might be considered on the dark side. Don't be afraid to join the dark side at least for a story or two just avoid the Death Star. Just kidding. Create one of those too if it works within your story because it's not just fantasy that can be dark, there are definite options for science fiction that uses elements of horror too. Either way, write whatever speculative, fantastical and creepy tale that comes to mind and share it here.
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What is the dark side of your speculative fiction stories?
Last month, I discussed books, in particular ones that you might re-read. A couple of comments were sent in about reading books more than one time. Here are the comments so far over the topic:
Comment by Masterclass student
I rarely reread books. Now that you mention it, I think its time I reread Shanna by Katherine Woodiweiss. This romance books covers sex, a murder and a mystery all in one thick binding. Not a fantasy, but if you took all the elements of this book and set it in a fantasy setting this would be just as wonderful a story. It has all the elements of Game of Thrones.
Comment by BIG BAD WOLF Is Howling!
I re-read a lot of books - some 4-5, or more, times.
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