It's time again for another Blog Chain post. Christine's inspiration for the topic apparently came from reviews of her work. Since part of the topic was written in first person, I think it will be clearer if I post only the final questions:
How dark is too dark for your aesthetic? And is writing "dark" and "emotional" a "bad" thing?
I have a good idea of what's too dark for my taste: the boundary is right between Mockingjay and The Book Thief. Both of these stories involve war, and the heroines of both stories suffer greatly, to the point of giving the reader "suffering overload." Is all this suffering justified? That is, does it strengthen or weaken the characters in the end? Although the ending of Mockingjay was bittersweet, it provided hope that the future would be better, and the main characters did get a reward for what they'd endured, even though some of the damage done to them was permanent. I personally didn't get redemption from The Book Thief. To me, the ending of The Book Thief destroyed everything Liesel had been building during the rest of the story, so I felt like the plot was negating the theme of the book. I would have liked to have seen what happened to Liesel between the ending and the epilogue in order to determine whether books really did do more for her than offer a distraction from her situation. Maybe I should re-read the ending--sometime after I read my Mount Everest of Unread Books.
As for dark and emotional writing, stories are supposed to engage our emotions, so there's nothing wrong with doing that. Is there such a thing as being too emotional? Different people and different cultures have different ideas on how acceptable it is to express emotion, and readers vary in how well they perceive emotions. For example, stories written for young children might use said-bookisms, extravagant gestures, and dramatic words to convey emotion. A more experienced reader might find this type of showing over-the-top and prefer a subtle style. People also vary as to how dark they prefer a story to be; moods or circumstances may make a person more or less tolerant of dark writing. No one story can appeal to everyone; even classics and best-sellers get one-star ratings. All an author can do is write the story as true and as well as she can, then let the story go and trust it will find its audience.
Kate discussed this topic yesterday, and Christine will address her own topic tomorrow.