Dark Character

by Jordan
(United States)


I'm writing a fantasy novel that takes place in this world and I have a character that's a dark spirit, who's very hard to understand, and want him to be dark, but I don't know how. What is a dark character and how can you make a character dark?

Also, I have heard that dark and evil are the same thing, but others say that they mean different things.


Answer: People use the term "dark" to refer to a character who behaves in a way or holds an attitude that runs contrary to what is generally approved by society. They are characters who are not "team players." They may have partially cut themselves off from society or have not become fully integrated members of the community. This may be because they are...

Outsiders: They may have only recently joined the community, and have come from a dog-eat-dog place where civilization did not exist. Hence, they are wary of people, used to using violence to deal with problems, and not comfortable with social niceties.

Disillusioned/Bitter: They may have seen behind the facade and realized that the society does not follow its own rules or ideals and may treat some people unfairly. A dark character may have been treated unfairly himself, or may have had someone close to him fall victim to unfairness. Society has let him down, so he rejects society.

Traumatized: They may have suffered a great trauma in the past which has caused them to cut themselves off from

Vengeful: They may seek revenge against the society (or at least the upper class) that, in their eyes, is corrupt or guilty of wrongdoings. Sometimes this makes them villains. In other cases, it makes them vigilante heroes (like Batman).

Given to Temptation: Most societies have strict rules regarding sexuality (and some are a lot stricter than others). Some dark characters have sexual appetites that make them unable or unwilling to follow those rules. Whether this makes them villains depends on whether they harm others (in the case of sexual predators) or simply that their sexual behaviour is disapproved of, as has often been the case with LGBT, adulterers, polyamorous characters, or characters who are involved in the sex trade (as customers or merchants).

Other dark characters may be driven to break different rules. For instance, a dark character may be addicted to substance abuse or participate in illegal gambling, organized crime, or an underground fight club.

In almost all cases, the characters are "dark" because they have something to hide, to "keep in the dark." It may be their animosity towards society or a section of it, or it may be an aspect of themselves that would be disapproved of. The act of hiding separates them, at least partially, from others.

Again, evil characters may be dark (if they hide their villainy from most people). On the other hand, some villains are quite open about their evil intent and activities. And others (perhaps psychopaths who are not too bright) may simply not care.

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