Longing for Light: A Dark Fantasy Trope Worth Writing
In the search to define the increasingly nebulous term Dark Fantasy, I have found myself surrendering to self-imposed meditations during which I try to relegate the din of the interwebs on the subject to the back of my mind. No, it hasn't worked so well to that end, really. However, it has helped me to integrate the cacophony of online content into my own pre and post internet experiences as an enthusiast and consumer of dark fantasy into a shortlist of more-or-less generalized Dark Fantasy constructs and tropes. Additionally, I did this to help me to better understand Dark Fantasy as a writer; to write more engaging Dark Fantasy. I have a long way to go, I think. But, were I to press on one of these items more heavily than the other, I would do so on the concept of Light as something lacking but yearned for; perhaps a Light that is missed as though it were a person loved who had left or perished. Light as a character and lifeforce with will and purpose, but whose presence has waned.
For me, this immediately conjures a flood of imagery related to a single, unsettling situation: a world having been abandoned by the light. This is not merely a world without light, itself a thought morose enough. Instead, I invite you to think of a world whose inhabitants were not themselves worthy of light, or at least they feel they've not been worthy of light. This creates a realm internal to the characters that mirrors the world around them. They are part of the environment's dismal nature. They are party to it and they resonate with it.
How fitting then, and how dramatically heartbreaking for a main character or even a villain to long for a single ray of light, the smallest illumination that would tell them they've some purpose beyond the confines of the darkened corners they haunt or the bleak lands they roam. This is the human longing of the ages, to be wanted by the universe and to have been a promised and planned part of its destiny. Light is the evidence of that promise.
Certainly not all, but many Dark Fantasy narratives seem to be aware of the more esoteric, nuanced applications of this trope, either in their environments, characters or both. This could be the character who desires to be in the light (figuratively and literally) but can't find it. I can think of some interesting questions for writers to explore through their characters along those lines:
1. Without light is there still redemption?
2. If not, should the character even bother with it?
3. How far will they go to achieve it?
Of course, people in general and certainly writers have particular views on these things but in the way of Dark Fantasy world and character building, this is a trope worth writing in my opinion. What do you think?