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How Dark Should Your Stories Go?

How Dark Should Your Stories Go?

Dark fantasy is, by definition, a pretty "dark" genre. The stories tend to be grimmer, grittier, and more maudlin than heroic or epic fantasy. Instead of the "white vs. black" or "heroes vs. villains", dark fantasy involves varying shades of grey, with anti-heroes and "bad vs. worse" throughout. Why else do you think so many people love the genre? But is there such a thing as "too dark"? Can the stories ever get too grim and morose for the reader to enjoy? If so, how can we avoid going too dark? To better understand the genre, I sat down with a few fellow dark fantasy authors to talk about the craft of the darker side of fantasy—and fiction as a whole:

Resources Mentioned:

The Writer's Guide to Character Traits:

The Panelists

EM Whittaker E.M. began writing when she turned 13, starting with fanfiction stories on RPGamer, Forfeit Island, and After growing her fanbase through these mediums, E.M. considered fictional writing after creating original characters and backstories within fandom universes. After extensive encouragement, E.M. plunged into original writing in 2012, specializing in paranormal mystery, urban fantasy and psychological thrillers. She is the author of Turbulence, the first book in The Renegades Saga, and expects to release her second book Drift by mid-spring, 2017. Website: Facebook: Twitter: @EMWhittaker2 (just starting) My interview with her: Raven Oak Bestselling science fiction & fantasy author Raven Oak is best known for Amaskan’s Blood (Epic Awards 2016 Finalist), Class-M Exile, and the collection Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays (Foreword Reviews 2016 Book of the Year Finalist). She also has several published short stories in anthologies such as Untethered: A Magic iPhone Anthology and Magic Unveiled. Raven spent most of her K-12 education doodling stories and 500 page monstrosities that are forever locked away in a filing cabinet. When she’s not writing, she’s getting her game on with tabletop games, indulging in cartography, or staring at the ocean. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband, and their three kitties who enjoy lounging across the keyboard when writing deadlines approach. LINKS: Matt Posner Matt Posner is a writer and teacher from Queens, New York. He is the author of the multi-volume School of the Ages series, about America's greatest magic school; of How to Write Dialogue, a manual for writers; and the co-author of advice manual Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships. Matt's new novel is Squared Circle Blues, about the rough and rugged lives of professional wrestlers in the 1980s. Website: Facebook: , Twitter:,