I like to approach dark topics in the most visceral manner I can get away with. I won't get into examples in this post, but many of my stories portray something as fundamentally wrong in a way that some readers have difficulty reading all the way through. I figured my approach was necessary on some levels--it's easy to make something acceptable or even attractive if you sanitize it too much. I've been watching a cartoon called Steven Universe, and I can't help but find it striking how many dark subjects it handles in a manner appropriate for 8-year-old viewers. PTSD, survivor's guilt, abusive relationships . . . To my utter bafflement, they even managed a rape metaphor that was tasteful and age-appropriate! I've seen that episode twice, and I still can't believe my last sentence isn't a contradiction in terms. What's more, none of it ever feels like it's trivialized or made less important by being dealt with through abstractions and metaphors. In all honesty, it's making me feel a little inadequate. I'll still write grotesque stories, since the techniques in Steven Universe are way beyond my skill level, but I'm starting to wonder how much I actually need to show all this awful stuff. What are your thoughts on the darkest parts of fiction? How much of a purpose do you think they serve?