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Cerebus Syndrome and You:
Runs on AwesomenessMy current work actually starts out relatively dark and gets lighter as it goes, oddly enough.
No one believes me when I say angels can turn their panties into guns.
My stories start out with a serious concept originally but the first few chapters tend to be more light hearted and humorous character introductions. Then as the plot kicks in things get more serious and dark. I wouldn't qualify them as examples of this though, more mood whiplash or genre shift. There are examples of this in the RP group I'm in though. We'll start put with a silly idea like "kids playing truth or dare" and end up some supernatural creature attacking and almost killing everyone.
Oh man, does this ever happen to me. I started with a fluffy story about a boarding school for superheros and ended up with a gritty action story about super powered Child Soldiers. It's a good thing I chose to advert There Are No Therapists or I'd have to kiss any chance of a happy ending goodbye.
Sisterly love intensifiesHmm... Lessee, here... I can't really think of any surefire way to avoid Cerebus Syndrome. I know I got out of it, but that was due to overhauling some concepts having to do with The Verse. For my little pieces I'm planning... I noticed I've been able to avoid most horrific implications, or at least from what I can see. There's only a few that are particularly jarring, though I've figured out how to resolve them on a happy note. My story's actually based on some pretty dark concepts along with its blend of sci-fi and fantasy with religious undertones from pretty much every religion under the sun... But I avoid it being too dark through the central theme- overcoming one's personal mountains to Earn Your Happy Ending and creating their own future. I try to make sure everything gets closure, regardless of how grim the circumstances are. If it isn't happy, it's at the very least bittersweet. Basically, it tends to be avoided if you try to keep optimistic throughout your writing. That's my train of thought. Humorous characters tend to help as well. Also helps that one of my characters, a villain of all people, is an ethical hedonist.
edited 23rd Sep '11 1:50:32 PM by Motree
"I am going to commit ritual Sudoku thanks to his stupid, ignorant child." - friend of a friend.
Hmmm~my stories go back and forth. there was 1 time where it got really bad and a story that wasnt supposed to be anything but lighthearted suddenly turned into a grimdark downer ending depressfest but since then ive mostly just been stuck in the middle, but im happy there.
Pro Tip: Spiders are not technically insects, but actually skeletons made of congealed hate.
I have an idea for a story that involves a protagonist deliberately meant to be an over-the-top parody of American action heroes armed with as many Bond One Liners as bullets, but as I developed the setting around him it went from intentionally cheesy to dark and dystopian, where the Big Good is actually no better than the Big Bad. Whatever happens, I'm trying not to play the "gritty One-Man Army hero who is only truly alive on the battlefield" straight, but instead in an ironic or exaggerated fashion for comedic effect, and I'm wondering if this might create a weird dissonance with the dark setting of the story.
This makes me wonder about those of you who underwent "preemptive" Cerebus Syndrome - why can't you reverse that if it's a problem? After all, nothing about a work should be set in stone until it's actually written.
Conqueror of Hell ItselfI usually plan Cerebus Syndrome from the outset, since it is easier to introduce characters and dynamics in a lighter environment, but it is hard to keep up a lighthearted facade when some of my favorite tropes come into play. I also usually plan a point (usually the conclusion of an arc, and about halfway through the whole story) where it all goes to hell.
Wow, this kind of describes the arc of what I write. I started out with writing light-hearted slice-of-life Harvest Moon fanfiction. Nowadays I write stories involving human sacrifice, obsession, torture, and all that dark stuff. But hey, at least my story about light-hearted high school life is still happy!...oh wait...
edited 26th Sep '11 6:41:46 AM by blorgit
So I never got an answer on this: what's with the "preemptive" Cerebus Syndrome? Several of the posters here have mentioned taking a work down a darker path before they ever actually started writing it, so my question to them: why can't you reverse that? Only what you've actually written should be set in stone.
*hrrrrrk*^ I don't think that counts as anything, unless it's intentional. If it was intentional then it would be... Growing the Beard? Maybe. I dunno. I kinda had this happen to me recently. I had a couple characters with humorous personalities appear in a one-shot scene I did for fun; people said it was kind of funny. Later when I put them in a similar but more realistic scenario, it got to the point where I actually got a little uncomfortable writing it. And the characters didn't come out funny at all, even though I'd always imagined them to be.
edited 17th Oct '11 11:40:50 PM by Merlo
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am...
I'm talking about things like, say, this post (which is what prompted my first post on the subject):
I have an idea for a story that involves a protagonist deliberately meant to be an over-the-top parody of American action heroes armed with as many Bond One Liners as bullets, but as I developed the setting around him it went from intentionally cheesy to dark and dystopian, where the Big Good is actually no better than the Big Bad. Whatever happens, I'm trying not to play the "gritty One-Man Army hero who is only truly alive on the battlefield" straight, but instead in an ironic or exaggerated fashion for comedic effect, and I'm wondering if this might create a weird dissonance with the dark setting of the story.If turning your setting darker causes problems for the work, and you haven't actually written anything yet, then why can't you just go back to the original tone of the setting? Only what's actually written should be set in stone. I saw a couple of posts like this, and they baffle me.
edited 18th Oct '11 12:26:41 AM by nrjxll
*hrrrrrk*That's what I meant, I don't think it counts as anything until you've written it and see how it actually turns out. If you intend for something to happen you are planning on using a trope (or whatever). If you don't intend to use it and you haven't written it then it doesn't count as anything.
edited 18th Oct '11 12:29:32 AM by Merlo
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am...
Forget the specific trope terminology - my question is "why can't you reverse these tone changes you made before actually writing the work" - which several of the posters don't seem to consider as an option.
Exitus Acta ProbatI purposefully wanted in invoke Cerebus Syndrome in Forgotten Lore, with things becoming darker in tone as the story progresses. In the final version this isn't as obvious as it was originally going to be, since I left out most of the slice of life "filler" chapters and made the early chapters a bit darker and more serious than originally. It's still present to a degree, with the last few chapters being a lot darker than the earlier ones, but it's not as jarring, aside from the fact that while for the most part I've avoided showing a lot of violence against humans (yeah, What Measure Is a Non-Human?, I know), in one of the last chapters, there's a big and bloody fight where several people are quite brutally killed. They're bad guys you've got no reason to feel sympathy for but it's still pretty jarring, especially considering one of the protagonists is responsible for doing most of the killing.
edited 18th Oct '11 2:05:17 AM by Nomic
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer^^ Personally, I have two reasons. One is that a tone change usually occurs when the initial plot was unsalvageable, such that any modification to prevent the tone change would still result in a different plot than initially planned. The other is that the darker plots tend to be less cliched than my original ideas.
That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
Pretty much all of the stuff that I write (except for the Porn Without Plot, although that's darker than usual too because I love Goth chicks) either has enough elements of Horror that it's supposed to be dark or is more toward the action genre, but features a murderous protagonist (I utterly reject Thou Shalt Not Kill, and prefer to see justice done in my stories instead). But still, considering how much humor there is in my work, I'd say in my case it's more an example of intentional Mood Whiplash than intentional Cerebus Syndrome. It's like the 6th book of the X-Wing Series, but with F-words and explicit sex.
Jesus saves. Gretzky steals, he scores!
Thunder, Perfect MindEverything I touch turns to grim dark sooner or later. It's like I'm the dark prose version of King Midas. This doesn't necessarily mean that the humour goes away, though.
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Total posts: 44
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