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Toning it Down

I’ve already gone on at length about the dark tone I was interested in implementing, no matter what genre I decided to use for my pulpy adventure novel. However, there is dark and there is dark.

Let me give you an example or two. Take a look at just about every hour-long drama on the Fox TV network produced in the past 15 years or so — X-Files, Millennium, Harsh Realm, that sort of thing. Most of these shows have something of a common tone, and not just because the particular examples I named were all Chris Carter shows. Look at Supernatural, the remake of Night Stalker and so on. Look at Battlestar Galactica. All of these shows are, generally speaking, pretty dark.

Now, take a look at Veronica Mars, originally on UPN, now on CW. If I were to just describe the plots of a handful of episodes of Veronica Mars, they would read on the page as pretty much as dark in their own ways as any show Chris Carter ever worked on. Parental abandonment. Veronica being drugged and raped. Murder. Honestly, it’s a dark, dark show. However, it doesn’t feel dark because, in spite of the dark fictional world of the series, it is presented with a remarkably light tone. Its darkness is balanced with light — a witty and intelligent main character, the remarkable relationship between Veronica and her father, literate dialog. The show is dark, but it’s never gloomy.

Gloom is something I don’t really care for, and far too many writers in many fields mistake gloom for darkness.

I am not after gloom in my pulpy adventure novel — not much, at least. I want a nice balance of rich, dark colors, not just a bunch of muddy grays. I want humor and colorful characters and a world that, if only for the amount of time it takes you to read the book, you’d like to inhabit.

Because, you know, I’d move to Neptune in a heartbeat. Really.

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