The Losing Side.....too dark?
Tuesday, May 22, 2007

May I trouble my fair readers for some honest opinions? We've all read (or at least I have - ugh) a few of those unrelentingly dark, "never-ending abuse" stories. I for one hate them. So it gets my attention in a hurry when a long-term reader comments that they are losing enjoyment in the story for that very reason. It's absolutely not the sort of thing I want to write.

This is a dark period of the story, and according to my current plan it's going to get even darker…..but now I'm questioning that decision.

I've got a problem with this fic, in that a number of people have told me privately that it's too – fluffy – for lack of a better word, that to be realistic I need to make it darker. I have never quite agreed with that, but I wonder if the peer pressure has had some effect?

Mal, of course, does not end up actually serving his sentence – in fact both he and Wash will be free and moving on to happier times *relatively* soon. But….there are some very tough times ahead…..he'll pass through it soon enough and all that, but honest opinions on if soon enough is actually soon enough would be welcomed!

I can try to lighten things up, shorten the dark bits, etc. if need be. If I'm crossing the line into being one of "those" writers who seem to be merely putting the characters through unrelenting hell for love of the angst factor....please tell me now? So I can save myself and the story?


Wednesday, May 23, 2007 9:37 AM


As it's been iterated and reiterated here, "THE LOSING SIDE" is your baby, jetflair. You have final say over what goes in and what doesn't. You wanna add in some goofy fluff with Mal and the guys playing "Duck, Duck, Goose" to deal with boredom? It's your choice.

I think you've done an amazing job with striking a balance between the horrors of imprisonment and the coping process of having one's control taken away by another. Besides, life can swing from sunshine to torrential downpours quite easily;)


Wednesday, May 23, 2007 5:48 AM


I haven't read any of your story because the topic just doesn't interest me enough to stick with it for so many chapters.

But that said, if you have a vision of where you want the story to go, do it. Some people will like it, some won't. It's all a part of the game, as Mal4Prez said.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 1:50 PM


I've read such good comments about your story (it's rec'ed often), Jetflair, that once my school year was over I was planning on reading it. It's on the top of my list.

I have to be honest though... I have my reservations...40 POW chapters... I don't know if I can hang that long. I'm guessing it's not Hogan's Heroes?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 11:50 AM


I would also say go with what you want. Your story. We're all along for the ride.

I tried to give input last time, but what you actually wrote was just so much better than I could imagine.

Single author fiction has this purity of vision I doubt you want to lose. There will always be people who dislike parts of your story. It means people are reading it.

Apart from that I'll be pretentious enough to think my opinion matters :)

I am a fan of "dark", but not of "bleak".

The story is not bleak by any means (to me). Probably because we know the end result... but you are in a position to play with what others expect... you could probably have so much fun... and that's what matters. Have fun writing it. We'll have fun reading it.

About Mal-abuse, its something alot of people revel in. Me too. But it is because we always expect him to recover (Right Mal4prez? right?...). "War Stories" showed that his body would give up before his mind. It's a quality I wish I had.

Saying that I would not want any other character to go through the same things, or even close.

He's in a shitty part of his life. Also, for all the bad feelings he is getting, there must be someone who is actually enjoying the prison life? Someone glad to be captured thinking s/he would otherwise be dead?

I really liked the contrast in ch.44 with the humour and the violence.

Just wondering when Mal is gonna get more steely. lose some of his vunerable emotional state. Any potential trial could be a bag of fun. (Is he gonna get one? no need to answer. I just had to ask.)

Apart from that all I can say (after writing a mini essay!) is that I hope you are enjoying writing this as much as we are reading it.

And stick to your guns, whatever they may be. They make this fic great.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 8:24 AM


I understand what you're going through here Jetflair. I write a lot of horror Firefly fan fiction, and the challenge is to strike a balance.

I constantly ask myself 'how far is too far?' For me, the dark quality of the narrative ALWAYS has to serve the emotional core of the characters and ultimately the plot. Otherwise, it's just mindless crap.

In one chapter of my 'Resurgence' fan fic, I dealt with a case of Reaver rape, which I even found difficult to write. It was way out of my own comfort zone, and a struggle to convey in an appropriate manner at times.

If I'd lightened things too much, it would have trivialised a really sensitive and traumatic issue. Although, I wrote enough to make it uneasy and not too gratuitous or dark. I went as close to the very edge of that 'dark place', and maybe just put a proverbial toe over the threshold, but quickly drew it back in. The trauma played out for about a page or so, and was then cut short.

Luckily, (from reader feedback) it was enough to serve the plot of that chapter, and that event will accomodate plot threads in future chapters - like how various characters respond to the issue, especially the victim.

I feel that dealing with the darker issues has pushed the envelope in terms of how I approach story telling.

Don't be afraid of dealing with the edgier, darker storylines Jetflair. , and if you don't want to go too dark, then strike a balance. If you feel comfortable with what you've written, you're on the road to success.

Alternatively, it's always good to have several people beta read the story. It allows you to guage the strengths and weaknesses of what you've written, and if it is too dark for the readership.

I hope this has been helpful.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 4:24 AM


Ditto to Mal4Prez.

Rob O.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 3:42 AM


Darlin' - don't worry about your audience so much! Write what you have a passion for, what means the most to you. That may be dark this week and goofy the next, but if it's all your voice, it'll work.

In fact, my main criticism of the Losing Side is that it seems to get lost, to spend a lot of time looking for it's way instead of progressing steadily. I would hazard a guess that you are choosing where to go, or at least how to present it, based on feedback. That ends up like having too many cooks in the kitchen - you don't have such a single strong backbone as far as voice and intent.

You might have a stronger, more cohesive tale if you trusted your own vision more, and went with it, come hell or you know the rest. You can't please all the readers - don't try! What do we know anyway? You are the only person who knows this story, and you're the best to decide how to go about telling it. You're creative and write well and you visions are always interesting - whatever you decide, you'll have fans! You'll have critics too, but hey - who doesn't? It's just part of the game. ;)


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