I’ve been thinking about some common aspects of the stories I like. And I’ve found that one of them is hope. In this post, I’ll share why.
Not so long ago, I’ve thought that I don’t like darker stories in general. But, as time went by, I came to the conclusion that it’s not about how dark a story is or isn’t. I’ve read stories that were quite dark in nature, dealt with heavy topics, and I liked them a lot. And I’ve seen lighter stories that haven’t left a lasting mark.
One of the sparks for these thoughts was my declining enjoyment of World of Warcraft‘s story. Since it corresponded with some of the darker turns for the story, it’d be easy – given my early preferences – to blame that. I realized the issue is elsewhere and decided to look back at my reads, as well as into movies and other game stories I’ve seen, to look deeper to find the true reason.
For example – The Terminator is quite a dark movie with the enemy being an unstoppable cyborg that forces the main couple on an endless run. But they aren’t giving up – they do their best and hold to hope, no matter how slim it may be, that they’ll see things through.
So, I’ve thought about my favorite reads. Sure – some of them are on the lighter end.
J.D. Hallowell’s Dragon Fate may easily take that place – it’s a very light-hearted take on dragon fantasy and really enjoyable for me. Sure, the characters – the main source of the lighter atmosphere due to some of their interactions – carry the story quite well. But it’s the fact that there’s also no lack of hope for a brighter future. Not in the time when the characters don’t know what’s going on yet – and not when they discover who their adversary is.
But then, there are darker stories, some I’ve enjoyed just as much. I have to mention one of my absolute favorites – Daniel M. Ford’s Paladin trilogy. A story that takes place in a world ravaged by two decades of war that had soon entered a stalemate no one is able to break out of. It’s clear from the beginning that the MC has a lot of work before him to get the world into a better state but they know it’s possible, even if the chance may be quite low.
On that matter, I have to mention the third book of James Harrington’s Drakin series – Empire of Ashes. That book deals with a lot of heavy topics, including War Crimes that easily stand up to the atrocities of WWII and the post-apocalyptic atmosphere comparable to the future snippets of the Terminator series. Again, the answer is in the characters and the motivation – hope for a better world that pushes them to risk a lot for others.
Circling back to one of the original thoughts, I’ve realized that’s one of the issues I see in Warcraft story after Legion – hope, which was a key element of the story before that, isn’t there anymore. Not in the way I’d like to see. And with that, my perception of the story changed, and so did my enjoyment of it.
This affects me on the other side as well – the story I work on follows in the footsteps of many stories I like in the manner that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and even if the light is faint, it’s still there. It’s what draws me forward when reading, watching a movie, or writing.
I’m curious to know whether you have some element of stories that’s not something in the “first row” – such as the plot and the characters – but is important to you for enjoying a story, in a way hope is for me. So if there’s something like that, you’re welcome to mention it in the comments, along with some of your favorite examples.
Until next time…