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Sunday, April 03, 2011

How Dark Is Too Dark?

How dark is too dark? That's a question I've been mulling over a bit lately.

I have a story set post apocalypse and the world is very grim. The heroine was born and raised and has lived her entire life in this time and place. Her actions and lack of remorse make complete sense in her world, but I wonder if her actions will make her unsympathetic to readers.

It seems as if heroes can get away with being darker more easily than heroines. But this hero grew up in a considerably better place than his heroine did and he's not as edgy as she is.

Maybe this is one of the struggles I'm having as I write this idea. If I stay true to Point of View (POV), there's a very real chance that the reader won't like her, but if I try to soften her, I'm doing my character a disservice. She is as tough and as emotionally insulated as she's needed to be to survive. Her life is a hard one, her decisions and actions fostered from a totally different reality than what we face today.

Despite this, I like her. She's tough and smart and she's fiercely loyal to those she loved--even after their deaths. She knows she'll die young since average life expectancy is around 25, with people like her who are loners dying earlier than that, but instead of bemoaning this, she survives.

That's the bottom line--she's a survivor.

Meeting the hero will rock her out of her rut and change everything for her. She'll have to learn to go beyond survival to living.

The only way I can think to temper her edge is to write a lot of the story in her POV and hope that if the reader sees how she thinks that they'll be more accepting of her actions. I guess I'll have to see how that goes after I write more, but I'm hoping it works.