Dark Stories

Commentary

When Dark and Gritty Is Just Exploitation

Daenerys being held aloft by freed slaves.

­Some weeks ago, the makers of the Game of Thrones TV series, Benioff and Weiss, announced their next project. Titled Confederate, it will feature an alternate-history US where the South won the Civil War and slavery is still legal. In response, many social justice advocates … read more »

Analysis

Five Heroes With Dark Reflections

Many popular heroes have faced a dark version of themselves. This trope creates thrill in a video game battle or novelty in a TV episode about an alternate reality. However, some stories go beyond that, using a hero’s dark reflection to add meaning and depth to the work. By comparing the hero to … read more »

Storytelling

Seven Ways to Use Consequences in Stories

When characters fail, either through negligence or action, their failure matters little if there are no consequences. The consequences may affect the characters directly or the people around them, but they have to be tangible and meaningful to bring anything to the plot. Consequences can enrich … read more »

Storytelling

Creating Distinct and Grounded Anti-Heroes

People are flawed, complicated, and strange, but heroes are often simplified and put on pedestals. We don’t need to make everything dark and gritty, but pretending that humanity is spotless limits our stories. That’s where anti-heroes come in. They subvert heroic stereotypes; rather than a selfless white … read more »

Storytelling

Five Horror Cliches Waiting to Be Broken

Like any genre of storytelling, horror has certain rules and techniques that make it more effective. That isn’t usually a problem. Otherwise, we might play Yakety Sax during the chase scene. But sometimes, these conventions get overused and become predictable. That’s not scary. Other times, … read more »