My writing group read the first two chapters of my WIP and agreed that I was starting from such a dark place that they would expect the book to go toward the light. I hadn't planned to, of course. Is there a danger in making your protagonist so dark it becomes tiresome. When I say dark, I don't mean she's Hannibal Lector, of course. But she's inhabiting a pretty dismal place. How dark is too dark to sustain a novel?

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Now this is interesting. From the standpoint of equal rights, hypocrisy and so on, this is a reality that blows monkey chunks. From a fiction perspective, though, this is conflict gold. Not only is your protag struggling with, well, whatever she's struggling with, she also gets to deal with this shit on top of it.

I have to think sometimes that it's less about whether your characters are likable and more that they have struggles people can identify with on some level. I'm probably splitting hairs here, but I'm not talking about empathy. The opposite of schaedenfreude, maybe.

When everything's so dark, I don't think it's the character that the reader necessarily needs to connect with, so much as her struggles. I can't get into Sisyphus' head, but I can sure as hell relate to having to haul that goddamn rock back up the hill.

Or, maybe I'm just talkin' out my ass, here.
I worked as a journalist for more than 20 years, in newspapers, then magazines and finally in TV. I got an overdose of real world dark during those years, and now purposely seek light as an antidote.

When it comes to reading mysteries, I much prefer light. I enjoy cozies and read them like candy. The only heavy things I read are some older novels, classics really, and the occasional true crime story. But the way my brain is wired, I always end up feeling upset when I allow myself to get drawn into a really dark story. I sometimes remind myself of that sentient, Vina, in the original Star Trek pilot, "The Menagerie." I just feel things too strongly to be able to comfortably read about a lot of brutality, sadism and gore.

Having said that, there is a huge market for dark, but I agree with Angie; humor is just the leavening you need to help a dark tale rise to its full potential.
This is really a genre with lots of corners, isn't it? Dark and light ones. When I say dark, I mean more that my character is dark, not necessarily what happens in the book.
I like the classic mysteries very much too. Probably not ones where cats solve crimes though.


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