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Cerebus Syndrome and You
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Cerebus Syndrome and You:

 1 feotakahari, Tue, 13th Sep '11 1:01:09 AM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
Every freaking time I create a new setting and write more than one short story for it, I realize some dark implication that I didn't originally think of, and wind up making the series significantly darker because of it. This happens whether the story was originally cheery (Affectionate Parody of role-playing game fanfic? If the main character gets his hands on the Sword of Plot Advancement, he'll become a mass murderer) or was dark even before I went and made it darker(the dead are judged by their own consciences, and receive the punishment they feel they deserve? What about sexual abuse victims who blame themselves for the abuse?) At this point, I've all but given up trying to avoid it.

Anyone else have problems with this, or with other forms of Cerebus Syndrome?

edited 13th Sep '11 1:01:49 AM by feotakahari

That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
 2 Morven, Tue, 13th Sep '11 1:19:18 AM from Seattle, WA, USA
Nemesis
All my stories are dark and serious from the get-go, so I avoid it by pre-causing it, I guess!
A brighter future for a darker age.
I fear this like you wouldn't believe, but I have no proof of actually slipping into it yet.
Hello Kitty isn't a cat. I don't know what to believe anymore.
 4 Misuki, Tue, 13th Sep '11 7:44:05 AM from Right in the corner of your eye... Relationship Status: One Is The Loneliest Number
Loyal Listener
I've done this with my writing too, I'm sure. And one piece I intend on invoking this trope intentionally. Sometimes the darker elements just can't be avoided if you want to tell a good story, IMO.
"Those imperfections in our reality are the seams and the cracks into which our out-sized love can seep and pool." - Cecil, "Condos"
 5 Voltech 44, Tue, 13th Sep '11 8:25:37 AM from Alongside a Virtual Weasel
All Guns Sparking
Cerberus Syndrome is my bro...a bro that constantly turns up with a can of black paint when I'm trying to put up some sky-colored wallpaper. Also, he holds me at gunpoint regularly, [[{Metaphorgotten} so...I guess he's not really my bro.]]

Anyway, it tends to intrude and turn stories — stories that aren't necessarily lighthearted, but have plenty of humorous moments — into cesspools of dark implications and character downfalls that I scarcely knew I could make. In the case of a story I've been working on, pretty much everything in Part 4 takes all the vaguely disturbing elements of the tale and takes it up several dozen notches — heroes go berserk and start attacking friends, the Big Bad starts wantonly blowing up entire countries, everybody's got some degree of corruption-induced insanity, and the cast starts dropping like flies.

Fortunately, the last part of the story has enough C Mo As to compensate, and pull things back toward a happy ending. But man, it makes me wonder just where I get these troublesome ideas...
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 6 d Roy, Tue, 13th Sep '11 8:39:53 AM Relationship Status: Getting away with murder
My series (btw, it got expanded) goes like this...

Ep 1: Military mission...teenagers form a nonsensical afterschool club!

Ep 2: This club is stupid...let's go do something even more stupid! How about going around exploring urban legends?

Ep 3: Weirdly hilarious urban legend exploration with pop cultural references...

Ep 4: that continues. The team goes harass the Author Avatar for lulz.

Ep 5: Extremely horrifying exploration ensues with the team barely manage to escape.

Ep 6: The team rethinks over this whole plan. Damned test!

Ep 7: Let's do this one more time, shall we? What better place than an abandoned hospital...occupied with murderous gang-rapers? Holy shit, okay, we're done here.

Ep 8: Apparently they're not. Wait a second, did one of them just got stabbed?

Ep 9: Oh, oh holy hell, those gangs are really on to us.

Ep 10: Did...did they just kill someone?

Ep 11: WHAT DO YOU MEAN!

And it goes on like that till the end of the first season. It gets better in the latter seasons, though.
"Allah may guide their bullets, but Jesus helps those who aim down the sights."
 7 Mad Man X, Tue, 13th Sep '11 8:59:25 AM from Illinois, USA
That Dude With That
Ugh. All I want to do is create an awesome Biopunk story bringing around some fridge horror of future science. But I'm REALLY starting to hate myself with the preachier things in mind I could babble about. I mean, for chrissakes, The End of the World as We Know It is caused by Mother Nature, and the remnants of God send one punk thrusted into the mess to clean things up.

There's just gotta be a better way of saying "Kick religion and the meaning of life to the side if it's driving you crazy, just worry about your friends and family you can help."

edited 13th Sep '11 9:01:28 AM by MadManX

 8 nrjxll, Tue, 13th Sep '11 11:18:51 AM Relationship Status: Not war
Huh. I was just thinking about making this thread.

Actually, what I've encountered in my writings is really much closer to Continuity Creep then Cerebus Syndrome. Nevertheless, I have enough issues with the concept that one of my big concerns regarding my current writing project is that - taking into account the extensive amount of comedy and the eventual high stakes - if I start out without doing something to establish the latter, it'll look like I'm undergoing Cerebus Syndrome, which would be something I'd rather avoid.

Responsible adult
I'm a Dramedy writer by default. I can't allow either wackiness or gloominess to take over, because the balance between the drama (conflict) and laughter (what there is to lose and what's worth protecting) is essential to driving the genre. So I'm pretty good about watching this sort of thing.
"Proto-Indo-European makes the damnedest words related. It's great. It's the Kevin Bacon of etymology." ~Madrugada
 10 Mr AHR, Tue, 13th Sep '11 11:50:44 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
I...don't know.

I just kinda...go with it.

I'm an optimist by nature, but life isn't always dark or always sunny.

It's kinda both.

Sometimes even simultaneously.
Shadowed Philosopher
I tend towards my settings being either pretty dark to begin with or falling apart in horrific ways over the course of the story. Which is basically intentional; it's not interesting for me to write about stuff that doesn't have the extra tension associated with actual, violent, murderous combat at least a possibility. This probably says something about me, but I'm not going to listen to it.
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
 12 Night, Tue, 13th Sep '11 1:12:24 PM from PSNS Intrepid Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Who you are does not matter.
If it was always planned, does it still count?

But more seriously it was always dramatic. I had someone getting their head bashed in because of a mistake in the second chapter of In The Service. Sette was sitting in a dark cell repeating a mantra against her father in the first chapter of A Numbered Existence. Night Life was always about the halfway state of the ADP, trapped between budget and equipment that aren't quite enough and a job that absolutely must get done.

In a lot of ways, they get better as time goes on; people adapt, their methods and tools evolve to meet the threats more effectively, they band together.

edited 13th Sep '11 3:29:11 PM by Night

"Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other...and rise."
 13 chihuahua 0, Tue, 13th Sep '11 1:49:31 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
My goal for at least one of my stories is to keep a balance of lightheartness and grimdark for the entire narrative, even for the ending (climax dark, ending bittersweet).

Let's say that I put a breather point in the darkest hour part, just to surprise the readers when the climax sequence comes roaring in.

 14 USAF713, Tue, 13th Sep '11 2:07:09 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
All my stories are dark and serious from the get-go, so I avoid it by pre-causing it, I guess!

This.

Although I'm never uniformly dark. That would be... bad...

If I do pull a switch, I plan it from the beginning and use strategic Fridge Horror. My current project runs on this trope. I manage to make utopia (and I don't mean "dystopia pretending to be utopia, " I mean real utopia) dark. Granted, the whole point is that there is no such thing as utopia, dystopia, heroes, or villains, so...
I am now known as Flyboy.
Shadowed Philosopher
[up]I always get this double take reading your posts for a bit after you change your avatar, realizing you're in fact the same person. tongue
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
 16 USAF713, Tue, 13th Sep '11 3:26:05 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
I always get this double take reading your posts for a bit after you change your avatar, realizing you're in fact the same person.

Heh, it's working! Nah, really, I meant to go back to Jack, but I decided to change instead. I'm picking characters which illustrate various tropes related to idealism, because it's amusing.

And Darth Revan is a beast. evil grin

Anyhow, as for Cerebus Syndrome, I think it's only bad if it's not planned in advance and written accordingly and well. If you intend to do it, it can be shockingly effective...
I am now known as Flyboy.
 17 nrjxll, Tue, 13th Sep '11 3:48:56 PM Relationship Status: Not war
If it was always planned, does it still count?

Many examples on the page say yes.

[up]At least for my part, it's not that I feel it's bad so much as... I don't know, annoying. The implication that it's impossible to keep a comedic series going without turning it into something dramatic bothers me more than a little.

edited 13th Sep '11 3:51:35 PM by nrjxll

 18 USAF713, Tue, 13th Sep '11 4:06:14 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
~shrug~

No, but it's probably easier to write...
I am now known as Flyboy.
 19 Mild Guy, Tue, 13th Sep '11 11:30:46 PM from the bed I made.
I squeeze gats.
I like horror mixed with comedy, and thus I wish I saw Cerebus Syndrome show up in more media. There's no reason drama, horror, and comedy have to remain segregated in everything. There will always be people who whine when the tone begins to shift, as if the writer were failing somehow. They liked their happier forget-my-troubles monster-of-the-week storylines and now they feel betrayed.

Me, I savor the emotional shock of seeing shit get real. What's the use of heroics if there's never anything dark—seriously and truly dark to war against? Rhetorical question there. I know tastes differ.

What I'm not sure of if I would ever use it in my own projects. I'd probably have the darker elements appear early on, because I love writing that stuff. I can't picture myself writing so many episodes or books of comedy and consequence free hijinks only to lull the audience into a false sense of security. But then maybe it's worth the sacrifice...

 20 nrjxll, Wed, 14th Sep '11 12:21:43 AM Relationship Status: Not war
Um, you seem to be misusing the trope, unless you mean something more general by "horror" what it sounds like. Cerebus Syndrome is "comedic work gets more dramatic (which does not necessarily equate to "darker" in the sense of Darker and Edgier) over time". A mixture of comedy and horror is not Cerebus Syndrome. A comedy work that turns into horror and/or develops horror elements is Cerebus Syndrome, but is hardly the only form it can take.

edited 14th Sep '11 12:21:57 AM by nrjxll

Her with the hat
This actually happened with two friends of mine. They both wrote AU fanfic in the same fandom, and for fun they decided to write a Porn Without Plot Crack Fic crossing over characters from their A Us.

Except they enjoyed it so much that they decided to start planning a sequel, and what would happen after that, and how the characters relationship would develop etc., until they suddenly realised their PWP Crack Fic had suddenly developed a plot and had more serious drama than crack.

So they decided to rewrite the initial fic in keeping with the later tone.
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 22 sabrina diamond, Wed, 14th Sep '11 3:58:10 AM from in my belly... Relationship Status:
Join the club. I do this almost every time I write a story :D But sometimes if I feel like it, I add a Bittersweet Ending. I like Cerebus Syndrome but I try not to make it go overboard.

For example: I like a game, I write a story about that incident, but add a few tragic events, then halfway through it turns into a tragedy.

edited 14th Sep '11 4:01:32 AM by sabrina_diamond

You are a Innocent Uke! Cute and sweet of all ukes! my profile
 23 Wolf 1066, Wed, 14th Sep '11 7:38:57 PM from New Zealand Relationship Status: In my bunk
Wolf1066
Inspired by another thread (who would you be in a Fantasy Kitchen Sink), wherein I broke out the Inner Sue and came up with a nicely OTT character, I decided to start writing a Fantasy Kitchen Sink story with that character as a protagonist.

The idea started out very light, fluffy, affectionate-parody/piss-take and, before I could write even a couple of pages more ideas started flowing in, research was done, characters, races and the world started getting refined and suddenly I'm doing it as serious fiction complete with suicidally-inclined immortals, brutal fighting and slavery among other things.

Consequently, the stuff I'd written has to be scrapped and a new Darker and Edgier beginning is taking its place.

I think the Cerebus Syndrome hit before I even had a chance to properly formulate the 'verse.
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
 24 USAF713, Wed, 14th Sep '11 7:54:44 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
I think the only thing I've worked on so far that didn't immediately become "this is going to be a very dark story later on" was, ironically, a story about perpetual war...

...in a setting where nobody can die permanently and death is, essentially, meaningless.

edited 14th Sep '11 7:55:07 PM by USAF713

I am now known as Flyboy.
Shadowed Philosopher
I think if I tried to write something uniformly lighthearted I would fail. I can have elements of humor, or humorous moments, but as previously noted I only really write scenarios with actual life-or-death combat in them, and I really wouldn't feel right writing such a scenario in a lighthearted tone.
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
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