1. GrottyStatute74
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    About Dark Fantasy

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by GrottyStatute74, Apr 3, 2016.

    Let's talk about Dark Fantasy, shall we?

    It's frequent for Dark Fantasy to be misunderstood for horror. Having the same sort of gritty, bleak and... Well, 'dark' theme the Horror genre has.

    I ask you, what do you think sets Dark Fantasy apart from genres like Horror? I am currently in a process of writing a novel that I plan to categorize in this beautiful genre, so this is also a place to find some tips to set your work apart.

    :supersmile:
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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  3. Boger
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    Horror is quickly referred to when something is immoral. Fantasy is the genre that shows morality can be fabricated.

    In a broad sense fiction can do the same thing but then we say it's a thriller. I guess there's a threshold where things stop being humane no matter the amount of context. Horror has the extra dimension of hostility. Throw in a naive, overconfident main character as a victim, and you're done.
     
  4. Simpson17866
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    My favorite way of distinguishing Horror from Action is:

    Action is when you want the hero to face the challenge because you want the hero to win
    Horror is when you don't want the hero to face the challenge because you don't want the hero to lose
    Dark Fantasy is about what the challenge is, not about how strong it is. You can have a non-Horror Dark Fantasy where the evil is supernatural, but where the good is stronger, and you van have a non-DF Horror where the evil is perfectly natural and yet still stronger than the good.

    Dark Fantasy: the evil is supernatural
    Horror: the evil is stronger than the good
    Never mind, please look at my next post instead of this one:
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
  5. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    @Simpson17866 : Interesting :D This classification would mean that I would NOT write dark fantasy. But I do ;)

    My kind of brand focusses on ambivalence. Every MC has a real good reason to act like he does, but the outcome is not morally right. Or not always. Or is it? This is the question which makes my WIP a bit 'disturbing' to read, because there is no 'good' and 'evil'.
     
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  6. Simpson17866
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    Actually, now that you mention it I'm thinking my original definition of Dark Fantasy was a little simplistic :oops: Every Epic Fantasy has a supernatural evil and the vast majority of them would not be called "Dark," so I think I should actually work on that a bit more.

    EDIT: OK, let me try this again:

    Horror is about quality (evil* therewith is stronger than good)
    Dark is about quantity (evil* therewith is more pervasive than good)​

    Does this work better?

    *I think we're still talking about the same thing even if I'm using a stronger word than you are: I would describe "doing the wrong thing for what one considers to be the right reason" to be "wrong" rather than "ambivalent"
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
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  7. GrottyStatute74
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    I think that it doesn't necessarily need to be supernatural (If I understood Mr. Simpson's post correctly).

    The thing that dark famtasy needs to do, for me, is to make good not prevail, and be dark at it. Just look at the Witcher for example (both the books and the games, though I think that the books are better at this... The little I read). There's misery all around, disgusting creatures, no good, but it's obvious it's not horror.

    Good does not prevail. And there are morally questionable decisions... This is the kind of Dark Fantasy I am (trying) to write.
     
  8. GrottyStatute74
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    When I mention that evil doesn't have to be supernatural... It can be a tyrannical king in a Fantasy land committing brutal crimes.

    And also my story has no antagonist... Is that bad?
     
  9. Feo Takahari
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    A writer on another site was fond of saying that in fantasy, you have a gun (or fantasy equivalent thereof) and the bad guy has a gun. In horror, the bad guy has a gun and you have antlers.

    In practice, I think the distinction between dark fantasy and horror is often one of social order. In a typical horror story, the normal social order is threatened by dark, corruptive forces from outside the protagonist's understanding. In a typical dark fantasy, dark, corruptive forces are baked into the social order and cannot be removed from it, as much a fact of life as plagues and earthquakes. All the protagonists can do is work around the darkness or try to master it.
     
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  10. Greenwood
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    Yup. I reckon this. Same here ;)
     
  11. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I think dark fantasy is fantasy that's a little more scary/creepy but not outright horror. It's usually distinguished by having less scares, but having the same dark themes, creatures and visuals. Thus it is dark more than it is actually frightening.
     
  12. marty-daly86
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    I always assumed Dark Fantasy was just fantasy with a twist.
    Fantasy: Flick your wand cast a spell....Dark Fantasy: Stick your wand in someone' eye, use the blood (and other bits of slushy eye meat) to cast said spell.

    I'm probably wrong and that is probably a crappy way to explain it but ah well! lol
     
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  13. Oscar Leigh
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    Sort of. That's kind of the effect implication rather than general. It is basically that. It's fantasy that's not outright horror but has a horror "twist". A splash of horror elements. Rather than being "supernatural horror' or "horror/fantasy" or something. It's less horror-y.
     
  14. IlaridaArch
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    I was granted a gift in the moment of my birth. I was to cure diabetes off this planet. But first I need to collect power, suck the bonemarrow out of dead fetuses.

    Off to graveyard. Cya!
     
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  15. Oscar Leigh
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    And that's dark fantasy.
     
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  16. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    I think what separates dark fantasy from horror is that in Dark fantasy, you have set your world to already have monsters and magic as being real. So there is no surprise that the bad guy shoots lightning bolts from his fingers or a dragon burns cities to the ground. In normal horror, the scary part is that a monster has appeared that no one thought it would be possible. That's what makes for some of the scare tactics.
     
  17. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure that's true though. Because an example of something that has horror and fantasy would just be a genera blend. Standard. Very few things are one genre. The point of the term is it's "dark" not "horror" so there's a differentiation.
     
  18. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    Maybe I should have added that for me, Dark fantasy finishes with the antagonist winning at the end, even if defeated. I think of LOTR as being dark fantasy. In the end, Sauron is defeated, but Bilbo and Frodo never recover. Darkness is still in the world, but no leader.
    Hope this clears things up a little.
     
  19. Oscar Leigh
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    Not really. My point was it's not outright horror hence the point of the term. What does Lord of the Rings, epic high fantasy, have to do with that? Now you sound like you're going the other direction and it's the darkness requirement is quite low. :confuzled:
     
  20. GrottyStatute74
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    We shouldn't forget the question of morality in dark fantasy. A great example might be Game of Thrones. There is no clear "good", nor "evil". It's not that the good looking light triumphs over the ugly dark. It's much more complicated than that.

    Agreed?
     
  21. IlaridaArch
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    Question of morality isn't a specific feature for dark fantasy only, so you shouldn't try to define dark fantasy through that. Complex morality questions and challenges should be part of any story. Well, maybe excluding children stories which should go more simple about it.
     
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  22. GrottyStatute74
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    But it's still a pretty big part. In a world where the "bad guy" triumphs, morality is pretty important. I tend to always look for characters that aren't plain good or bad. Maybe the bad guy isn't that bad, maybe the good guy isnt good... It should be considered one of the trademarks of the genre. That's my opinion at least.

    And I see, part of every story... But I see it as more important in dark fantasy. If you take a look at previous answers in this thread, I think that morality is very important here. Besides the grusomness, it's really what puts dark in dark fantasy.


    My opinion.
     
  23. Oscar Leigh
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    It's certainly required for it to take a more complex approach to morality, but not by much. The important part is the inclusion of horror elements, of any kind. A fantasy with notable horror elements is dark if it doesn't cross over to full horror. Game of Thrones isn't dark fantasy just because it is gritty. Because it's has no strong eerieness, no fear themes. The Dark Tower series is dark fantasy. Game of Thrones is fantasy noir.
     
  24. X Equestris
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    I'd say there are definitely fear themes, whether it's literal monsters like the Others and their wights, or figurative ones like Ramsay Bolton. And I think horror elements are secondary in dark fantasy. To me, dark fantasy is more about the state of the setting. Dark elements--whether they're out and out evil or simple selfishness to the point of harm--are tightly bound into it, and the protagonist will be able to make little--if any--headway in rooting them out. And for all their terribleness, those dark elements could be better than what happens without them.
     
  25. Domino355
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    Well, the way I see it, both aren't necessarily different genres. They overlap, really.
    What I mean is, Horror is an emotion based genre. Like drama, action and the like, horror describes the main emotion you want to invoke inyour reader, in this case, fear. You can have two movies about psycotic serial killers. One focuses on the suspense of trying to catch the killer, therefore be described as thriller, the other focuses on the brutal ways the killer kills his victims, therefore being described as horror.
    Fantasy, on the other hand is a setting based genre. Setting based genres and emotion based genres don't contradict, they overlap. What exactly qualifies as fantasy is up to debate, but the bottom line is, you can have action-fantasy, drama fantasy (Twilight and the like) or horror fantasy (HP Lovecraft).
    So dark fantasy, in my point of view, does sometimes fall into the horror category, but alot of other times, it will fall into the other type of stories, depending on its definitive emotion.
     
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