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Posts : 1295
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 57
Location : Northern California

PostSubject: Dark Tone Stories   Tue May 01, 2012 11:06 am

Dark Tones

From Friscogirl

I've been thinking about this awhile, and want to get it off my chest. For the past two months I haven't been able to 'connect' to the Monthly stories. Don't know why. Then it struck me. It seems so many of the stories lately have been so grim. Heyes and Curry in prison. Going to prison. Being in prison 15 years without seeing each other. Curry getting his hand smashed. Heyes shooting Curry. Heyes losing feeling in his legs. I contributed my own downer with Heyes losing his sight.

Anyway, I don't know why we're choosing such dark topics, but so many times after reading your contributions- wonderfully written as they are- I feel very sad and depressed. Not a good feeling to start me day, and often your stark images linger with me.

I don't know where I"m going with this....the series was always mostly so upbeat, and lately we seem to be DOWNbeat. Don't know why. Maybe it's the troubled world we're in with war and a crashing economy. The newspaper is so depressing I can hardly read it... guess I want to feel "better" reading AS&J.

Yell at me if you want. I can take it. Just wanted to share.


From skykomish

Frisgogirl - After reading your post, I began to wonder how many stories I would see as dark and how many I would see as light over the last few months. So I took an inventory.

I did not have defined criteria for dark or light, so I am afraid that the placement is both subjective and open to disagreement. I moved several stories back and forth from one category to the other, multiple times. I am sure that others would place the stories differently than I have. The stories that I saw as neutral in tone, or simply adventurous, I placed in the light category. I only tallied the challenge stories.

I don't have any conclusions based on the data. I like all different types of stories--light, dark, and in between--though I'm not as comfortable with stories that leave the characters without hope. I just want all of you to keep writing, because I so enjoy reading your tales.

Anyway, here is my tally. A note of thanks to Max, because I pinched her synopses of the stories from the polling page.

June – September 20
Darker Stories 21
Lighter Stories 30

July Stories - Consequences


1. A young Jed watches the consequences of making your living and reputation with a gun after his new friend Billy calls out a rival.

2. Will there be consequences when Kid Curry sees a face from the past? He decides , no.

3. Our boys discuss choices and consequences on what might be their last wagon ride for twenty years.

4. Heyes’ horse won’t quit until his master is safe – but loyalty has consequences.

5. Consequences ensue when Heyes ignores Kid Curry’s warning on the danger of a bank job.

6. A young Heyes and Kid see the dark consequences of a robbery gone wrong when their leader and his partner clash.

7. Disobeying the orders of Big Jim Santana has consequences for a young Kid Curry.

8. A little ordinary teenage rebelliousness has bitter consequences for Hannibal Heyes when a fire starts in his and Jed’s new home.

9. Harry finds the boys help out at Colorado Springs has unforeseen – and unpleasant – consequences for him.

Light Stories

1. Young Jed reaps the fruits of his actions and gathers just desserts – all as part of his homework on ‘consequences’.

2. The boys find their ranch job already taken, as a consequence they’re hired by an old friend of Heyes’ father.

3. Our boys play ‘Consequences’ in the Brown Palace – but do certain ladies have a less sedate game in mind?

4. Heyes’ favourite ‘he’s engaged to the mayor’s daughter’ story has serious consequences for Kid Curry. Will he escape the ball and chain?

5. An older Heyes and Kid do one last safe break – but tell an old friend he has to pay his debts or face the consequences.

6. Young Hannibal Heyes is going to learn all his locksmith great-grandfather’s skills – and the consequence was...

7. Kid Curry is in broody mode as he regrets one of the consequences of the outlaw life – not being a proud father.

8. Kyle’s gonna be blown away by Kid and Heyes’ decision on the dynamite.

August Stories – Denver is a Likeable Town

Dark Stories

1. After fifteen years Heyes and Jed (NOT Kid) are out of prison, wondering what’s next and heading for Denver, since that’s a likeable town to get lost in.

2. Will Denver be such a likeable town if our boys take the Governor’s offer and go take down Silky (Call me Grandma) O’Sullivan.

3. Denver is not so likeable for a youthful Kid Curry as he remembers a girl he left behind him.

Light Stories

1. Harry Wagoner tries to persuade our boys to blow the Mint in that likeable town. But they prefer discussing hypothetical (snirt) women taking tea at the Brown Palace.

2. Friends, Heyesians, Curry-women, lend me your ears as Heyes comes not to praise Denver (which is a likeable town) but to bury the idea of picking it over Leadville.

3. A tour-de-force of rhyming name-drops gets us all ‘on board’ that Denver is a likeable town.

4. Kid Curry reads disturbing news in the paper from a likeable town. Harry B is in trouble – can he persuade Heyes to help?

5. Romance blooms for our boys’ claim partner the Lamb, who – after growling like a lobo wolf – heads for a likeable town, a man happy with his Lot(tie).

6. Karma-Lou – she of sensitive ears – needs a little persuasion that noisy, bustling Denver is a likeable town.

7. A sleepy Kid has missed Heyes’ saddle talk. After a due amount of Curry-Baiting, it turns out Denver is a likeable town – which is good, but it isn’t news!

8. Kid Curry’s night of romantic diversionary tactics turns out all for the best – even for the young woman’s former fiancé. (He, free at last, is moving to a likeable town.)

9. Heyes is listing likeable towns for post-amnesty habitation and – moment of suspense – Denver is winning out!

10. Heyes proves advertisements DO work – though maybe not as intended – as he determines to prove the P&H 78 can be cracked, even in a likeable town.

September Stories - Authentic Experience

Dark Stories

1. The entrance into the Wyoming Territorial Prison

Light Stories

1. Rum Raisin ice cream and London commuter trains

2. In Vino Veritas – the fast talking lady that quieted Hannibal Heyes

3. The wealthy young man who joined the run from the posse

I had a hard time placing Riders57 story of a hopeful Han and cautious Jed. Personally, I can see it as both light and dark.

June Stories – Hopping Trains

Dark Stories

1. Jed and Han have hopped a train – but different cars. Where’s Han? Is Jed all alone for their next adventure?

2. Our narrator is considering hopping onto a train anywhere but here when life with an outlaw means she loses herself.

3. A bereaved ex-outlaw explains why he cannot let his lover hop that train.

4. Defying his father, Hannibal’s older brother is hopping a train to go join the Confederates. This isn’t gonna end well...

5. Kid Curry tells Heyes about a planned train wreck – and why, for once, he’s joining a posse.

6. Kid is hopping trains from the wrong to the right side of the law – but can he stay on the going straight track?

7. Young Jed hops a train but finds himself caught by the railroad bulls – and in the middle of nowhere.

8. Our boys are planning on hopping a train – but are they getting a touch too old, or too haunted by old memories, or just too dang fond of Karma-Lou?

Lighter or Neutral Stories

1. Young Hannibal is warned off getting a taste for hopping trains by fella living life on the lam.

2. The dark haired fella injured hopping a train – can it really be Heyes? Will the strangely familiar lawyer and investigator ‘Harry’ up and tell us!

3. After hopping the twenty second train in six months Kid is nursing a few bruises and a mild grudge: the wrong Smith got punched, the other fella got kissed.

4. Kid’s son is following in his father’s footsteps and hopping a train. His father was right – you can get badly hurt.

5. Lom is called on to arrest a pair caught hopping trains. He is also called on to improve the lock on his front door!

6. An aging ex-outlaw reflects on life, love, modern machines, his knees – and all the trains he hopped...

7. Heyes’ jottings record him getting hurt hopping a train – but it doesn’t spoil Christmas.

8. Hungry and on the run again, our boys – due to a misunderstanding over dates – hop a train to find two old, old friends.

9. Our boys are hopped on the wrong train all due to a pesky asterisk – but they do foil a robbery!


From AllegraW

I was very sorry to read that you felt unable to connect to the story challenges recently and it is a shame that some of the darker imagery in the stories bring you down a bit. I can only speak for myself when I say that I find this forum to be a wonderful place to practice my writing, and experiment with the background of a supportive group. I use the challenges as a prompt to experiment with different kinds of writing and I enjoy the feedback which my stories receive. I have tried all sorts of different sorts of stories and I try to dig deep and find something half-way original to present each month. I'm probably one of these people who need a deadline or I'd never shift.

In the same way I try to read all the challenges written by others, each for what they are, and give a useful feedback to the writer.

Time pressures forbid me doing much more than the challenges at this stage but I enjoy both the writing and the reading side of it. Theoretically, I would like to write more. One day, after all the practice sessions I have had here, I hope I will.

I enjoy your stories too so I hope you find a way to 'connect' again. If you need help, then this is the place to holla. We'll all throw ideas at you I'm sure and do our best to support.


From HutchyNStarsk

I haven't participated in the challenge for the last couple of months, but hopefully I can still comment here.

We could always start saying if our stories are light or dark (or somewhere in between) when posting them, but I don't know if everyone will feel like doing that.

Personally, I enjoy reading "light" stories best, because they make me smile. But some of the "dark" stories I've read have meant the most to me, revealing things about human nature and making me think.

I prefer to write light... but sometimes dark things seem to come out, and I'm surprised. When I write them down, maybe I'm exorcising something that was troubling me?

I also know that I got the most comments of any of my stories on my darkest story! That really surprised me.

Personally, I haven't participated lately because it's hard to find time to read all the stories and write comments (and post them properly!), and I feel like I can't play as a writer if I don't play as a reader. Sometimes, I don't need the pressure. Also, sometimes I just can't connect with the prompt.

I think specific prompts can be difficult for some people sometimes. (On the other hand, if you have a really vague prompt like "red" it might be too vague to get people started. I guess it's a trade-off.)

I enjoy posting short things elsewhere when I get inspired, and usually leave links here (to the LJ group, or to

Frisgogirl, maybe you should try writing something else, and link to it here?

Anyway, I hope you'll be able to continue to enjoy reading and writing in the future, even if you need a break for now or a break from certain kinds of stories.


From Frisgogirl

Thanks for all your hard work in those comments! As I said, I just wanted to lay my thoughts out there. Interesting that the tally came back as it did...I guess it's just the dark stories really HIT me (because you write them so well)

I can't tell you how many days I've driven into work thinking about your writings and feeling really really blue. I realize it's only fanfiction...but these guys...well...we CARE about them.

I'll keep on plugging...but for some reason the bunny hasn't popped for me in the last 2 months, and usually it does.


From RosieAnnie

Interesting question. I was thinking about it this afternoon. I think we do darker stories because a person's character is most revealed when life becomes challenging. In life, we really get to know one another when we see how someone reacts to adverse events. With the AS&J fanfiction, we want to see Our Boys in trouble, because that may be the quickest way to get to know them.

That being said, I am definitely one of those readers who has to steel herself, sometimes, to read the tougher stuff. I recently commented that I would read a challenging story once I had serious time for it and for the big glass of red wine I would need to deal with the emotions it would bring up. And that's not an exaggeration. I haven't read it yet. But I will, and I'll enjoy it, just as I enjoyed Friscogirl's story where Heyes ended up blinded.

I guess everything has its time and place. Sometimes I want to watch "Dexter." And sometimes I want to watch a "Dancing With the Stars" marathon.

BTW, Skykomish, it's also interesting to see that you put one of my recent stories as light, and one as dark. Talk about the different ways we all see things - I see them both as dark. There is some light banter, but Harry Briscoe is still in jail, and Kid feels awful about it. Please don't think I'm criticizing your perception; it is just interesting to see how we view the same things differently. And maybe that's the whole point of the Light vs. Dark question. We see the same story, the same challenge idea, but we interpret it differently. That's really cool. That's what makes these challenges so interesting.

Just me $0.2.


From GhislaineEmrys

This is a fascinating topic, one I haven't thought of in quite this way. All I can say is that I prefer the "darker" stories most of the time but a story with great banter and a humorous tone will also please me greatly. I think, like RosieAnnie said, the stories that are more emotionally painful reveal more of the boys' characters, and that is what I enjoy reading about. It could also be that I enjoy those stories more because I find them harder to write than other genres and so I have great respect for writers who can do those kind of stories. (Which is not to say I don't respect writers doing other kinds of stories, because I do; it's just that I find them easier to write and so not as, er, challenging to me.)

The breakdown by light vs dark was very interesting and, since by that reckoning light stories outnumbered the dark ones, but that you, Frisgogirl, felt there were more dark stories, that it's precisely because they ARE dark that you remember them. IMHO, dark stories make you think more, which is why they stick with you.

For example, Penski's story about the boys being released from the WTP after 15 years still resonates with me because of one line, which I can't seem to get out of my head. (The one Heyes says, "Sir? Have I done something wrong?" because to me that indicates a sea change in his demeanor and behavior.)

There have been many times that I haven't been able to write a Challenge story, for lots of reasons, including the fact that in some months I think the people who contributed did such a great job there was no point in me trying to write something, so I didn't. (Although usually, it's because I can't think of a plot.) I think that if someone is having difficulty writing a Challenge story, there could be many reasons and perhaps, it's a mirror of something going on in real life--too stressed, not enough time or energy to write, no ideas, whatever. Sometimes we just have to try and sit back and relax, empty our minds (no snarky comments, please!) and let the ASJ atmosphere wash over us (or, better yet, let the ASJ boys wash us... oops, did I say that?!) and be open to whatever bunnies hop.

Where am I going with this? Not sure! Except to say, I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to not write a Challenge story for a few consecutive months. Eventually you'll get an idea, it'll be wonderful, and you'll be back on track. Since writing ASJ fanfic is not a full-time, paying job, I don't think it matters if we don't write consistently every day or even every month. We write when we can for enjoyment, and if it's not enjoyable at the moment, it makes no never mind! It will be again soon. :-)


From Penski

A great question with excellent answers!

I agree with you, Friscogirl, how a dark story lingers with you all day and can effect your mood and emotion for the day. A few stories still linger with me - like the challenge where the boys meet the govenor to be arrested and choose escape/suicide than prison.

Ghislaine's story about the boys being in a prison wagon also stayed with me, even while I was visiting the Wyoming Territorial Prison. Ghislaine's story and my visit really got the bunnies hopping for "what if they did have to go to prison".

I really enjoy angsty and hurt/comfort stories and most of those have to be darker.

Dark stories not only linger with us, but seem to get more comments and votes.


From HutchyNStarsk

I really enjoyed reading what you guys have to say about this. :)

I just wanted to add something.

Quoting Frisgogirl:
I can't tell you how many days I've driven into work thinking about your writings and feeling really really blue. I realize it's only fanfiction...but these guys...well...we CARE about them.

In my own life, if I'm starting to feel that way (where something depresses me a lot), it tends to mean I need a break from that thing. Maybe there's too much stress in the rest of my life, and I just can't handle more. I've learned to try to listen to this, because if I don't I can get really depressed. My advice would be to listen to yourself and not read dark stories for now, until and unless you feel able to handle them better.

You may be different; I just thought I'd throw that out there. And no offense intended; I just don't want you to feel down!


From FrankieASJ

Well, I guess I'm falling into Ghislaine's category of not writing because of life and emotions getting in the way. I tend to write 'dark' stories as I find them more emotionally gratifying (not sure what this says about me as I'm generally an upbeat sort of person!) I do enjoy a good angsty story to read too. It's often said that doing comedy is more difficult for actors than serious drama and possibly it's the same for writing. I had a stab at a lighter story for VS last year and where as I enjoyed writing it I didn't get the same gratification as my more emotional stuff.

Just as an aside, it is generally the darker stories that generate the most comments and discussion. Has anyone considered looking at the ratio of dark v light stories bandana winners?


From sistergrace

There have been so many wonderful comments on this subject that I really don't know that I have much to add, but I guess I'll try. For me, (I know I've said this before, forgive me)writing is a wonderfully therapeutic tool. Sometimes it comes out dark, and I think that means I'm getting rid of all that stored up emotional junk. Other times, it's more lighthearted, in keeping with with my mood. And right along those same lines, times of real life emotional stress generally result in lack of writing inspiration, sometimes for months on end.

The recent visit to the Wyoming Territorial Prison by many forum members seems to have generated a fresh crop of prison stories, so maybe that's part of it too.

I guess writing is like the weather. There are days of sunshine and days of rain. Some days are even downright stormy. But, when it comes down to it, it takes ALL those kinds of days to make up the stories of our lives. And we really couldn't appreciate any one of them to the fullest, without having experienced all the others.

I hope you keep reading, Frisco. And I hope you keep writing. But mostly, I hope you hold on to the thought that the sun WILL shine again. I'm thinking of Noah, hanging out in that boat-full of stinkin' animals while it rained for 40 days and nights. But in the end, the sun shone right through that rain, to produce a rainbow. (Sheesh...I think I'm gonna break out in a chorus of Little Orphan Annie's...The sun will come out, tomorrow...)

Anyway, keep your chin up, Frisco! Cheers!


From Frisgogirl

thanks for your upbeat thoughts! I'm really not sinking into a pit of was just suddenly things got very heavy (I think Keays last story "done me in" )

many of the stories on Aimoo have been so "down". I'll take your good advice and for awhile at least avoid the dark stuff. Maybe I should look at my OWN life and figure out why a little "dark" fan fiction is too much...could be the pressures of starting out a new semester, who knows.?

But I just hate to picture the guys chained in prison not seeing each other and suffering. It's too much. They're partners...they care of each other...they have good times as well as bad. That's what I want to focus on.

Again, I REALLY appreciate all your thoughtful comments!!!!!


From StormR

I have to say I am with you in theory at least frisgogirl. In theory only because I haven't had the chance to read the challenges lately so I can't say if I think they are dark or not. I do have to say though, that for the most part, I don't like the dark stories as much as the ones that I think reflect the series more. The series was lighthearted and up beat. Maybe some dark moments but always with a little grin. I don't like the boys being in prison for long periods of time, being maimed, killed or anything else along those lines. And yes, stories like that can depress me so I don't read them. I am sure they are very well written but its just not my cup of tea (well coffee for me- I don't choose to put myself through that unless I am in the mood for it. I do have an emotional attachment to the boys and don't want harm to come to them. Yes they are fictional - not real but they bring very real fond memories of years gone by and really good memories from now so why would I want any"real" harm come to them. I enjoy Hurt/comfort, angst, drama but nothing that will have a long lasting affect on the boys. I don't know if it has anything to do with your life or not. I know it doesn't with me. Heck, I cry when I'm watching a show when a character gets hurt. Yes I know there is another show next week so they will live but hey that's me. So I get sad when I read sad stories. If I don't feel like being sad, I just dont read them.

That's a lot of rambling - very good topic frisgogirl - it doesn't appear that any response is short. You made everyone think a little. Thanks for posting it and know that you aren't alone.


From skykomish

Frankie asked, so I couldn't resist. Here is a tally of the Bandana winners and some of the runner ups.

Reply to FrankieASJ

Just as an aside, it is generally the darker stories that generate the most comments and discussion. Has anyone considered looking at the ratio of dark v light stories bandana winners?

Once again the tally is subjective. I just went back to January of this year. If there was only one winner, and the second place story was only one vote behind, I included both the winner and the runner-up.

I used Max's synopses again. After the month, you will see a D or L followed by a W or R.

D=Dark Story W=winner
L=Light Story R=runner up

The total came to :

Dark Winners and Runner-ups 9
Light Winners and Runner-up 7

Here is the data:

Jan- D/W- Heyes’ is resolved on revenge – but is war hell enough without revenge?

Feb - L/W- Stand off at a poker game; both our boys think the way the other fella
behaves is an open invitation to trouble.
Feb -D/R- A teenage girl describes how a local bully was always inviting trouble - until
two familiar handsome drifters show up and answer his invitation

Mar - L/W- A happy mother with a secret past remembers when Hannibal Heyes let
her make a fresh start – and returns the favour (I listed this one as light even though it
contains some dark themes, because the outcome is so hopeful and lovely.)

Apr - L/W - Heyes’ thinks he has horse sense – but seems his spunky new mare can
outwit him with one hoof behind her back!
Apr - D/W - Lom finds Heyes’ and Curry’s hats taken as souvenirs – but the photo of two
dead outlaws tells a different tale.
Apr - L/W - Even when offered three – count ‘em, three – great (ahem) tales, the boys
still aren't happy.

May - D/W - Heyes puts on a sterling silver-tongued show as a deputy, but will it end
with a BANG as the Sheriff calls his bluff.
May - D/R - Someone other than young Jed Curry took in a lesson in forgiveness from
his mother on the day the boys’ folks were killed

June - D/R - Our boys are planning on hopping a train – but are they getting a touch too
old, or too haunted by old memories, or just too dang fond of Karma-Lou (I put this one
as Dark because of the issue of aging, and the looming consequence of a train jump
gone wrong.)
June - L/R t - An aging ex-outlaw reflects on life, love, modern machines, his knees – and
all the trains he hopped...(I placed this one in the Light category because both outlaws
lived full and long lives.)
June - L/W - Our boys are hopped on the wrong train all due to a pesky asterisk – but
they do foil a robbery!

July - D/R - Will there be consequences when Kid Curry sees a face from the past? He
decides , no
July - L/W - Heyes’ favourite ‘he’s engaged to the mayor’s daughter’ story has serious
consequences for Kid Curry. Will he escape the ball and chain?

Aug - L/W - Friends, Heyesians, Curry-women, lend me your ears as Heyes comes not to
praise Denver (which is a likeable town) but to bury the idea of picking it over Leadville
Aug - D/W - After fifteen years Heyes and Jed (NOT Kid) are out of prison, wondering
what’s next and heading for Denver, since that’s a likeable town to get lost in.


From Remuda

I'm late to the party on this, and not sure I have anything original to add to what has already been said, but didn't want to sit it out.

I like a wide variety of stories, and try to read and comment on all challenges (notwithstanding that, at the moment, I am woefully behind on both counts). To that end, I really don't have an opinion whether light or dark plots are my favorites, as it really depends on my mood at the time (both as a writer and reader). If there's a dark story next in line, I'd probably skip it until I'm in the correct frame of mind to best receive it. As well, I have to be in the right "place" even with the lighter stories, although I always appreciate something that makes me laugh or smile. However, I definitely agree with the idea that the darker plots are the wellspring through which the boys' emotional lives, and therefore, core personalities, really come to the fore.

I prefer stories that reflect the series timeline generally, as well as childhood. I've yet to write them post-amnesty, but do enjoy reading when other authors go there. There's certainly enough variety of ASJ fic out there to satisfy most readers' preferences, and if there's a niche still to be covered, all someone has to do to fill it is write.

As Storm noted, although fictional, I also feel an emotional connection to the characters. Gosh, we spend enough time with them that they're almost like "family," in some virtual, make believe way.

Also, Sky, I'm loving your analyses and how you're illustrating the conversation. What a great idea!

All in all, a great topic, and very interesting discussion!


From FrankieASJ

Thanks for saving me the trouble Sky! Way too lazy to put the info. together! Pretty even really so nothing conclusive there! Guess it just comes down to the mood of the reader (and writer).


From Fortitudine

I was blithely assuming that I wrote "light" but then I figured I'd better check my stats. 9 light, 2 dark, and 3 kind of bittersweet.

ASJ, to me, lends itself more to humor but I suppose when you look at it objectively, the story of two desperate young men spending the rest of their lives on the dodge isn't all that funny.


From Frisgogirl

Gosh- what an incredibly thoughtful conversation we've been having! I'm glad I posted! Maybe now and then we need to step back and think about what we're writing....I admit sometimes I want a darkish story...sometimes one that makes one feel happy. I really enjoy your perspectives on this!


From Riders57

I've been following this conversation with great interest. It's quite impressive the thoughtful conversation it has provoked. Myself --- I found ASJ again when I was looking for a distraction from life. Personally I prefer the ones that have the feel of the show, rather than serious angst. But having just refound it after nearly 40 years, I realized that the show still resonated and decided its strength was 2 things: the apparent deep affection for each other that Pete and Ben created on air and the fact that the characters faced life, despite its trials, with an optimism that in the end they would win out ("ya gotta have faith") and with a sense of humor that sees them through dark times. I've tried to live life that way and enjoy the reinforcement. Therefore, for me the best stories are those that embody those two characteristics of the show and the boys.

That does not always mean light stories, there are several that I've read that would probably be classified as dark (for example, last month's challenge story of 15 years in prison, and I believe it's Fortitudine's story "Old Friends" or similar title) that I have enjoyed greatly.

But I think whatever each of us finds so interesting in the boys -- it really demonstrates a depth to the show that was probably not imagined or intended by its creators -- that's why it is resonating with us so long after. Each of us is finding what we need, and in the fanfiction we can read the ones that fulfill that need and ignore those that don't.


From skykomish

Going through the stories and assigning them to the "light" or "dark" category has caused me to think seriously about what makes a story feel "dark" or "light" to me. When I was placing a story, I tried to avoid my particular quirks of taste and stick to generally held notions of depressing or funny and humorous. Some tales easily fall into a particular category. Others have elements of both and are not so easily given a label. Sister Grace's powerful pieces involving one outlaw hanging on to a woman who is slowly dying inside, as a way to deal with his own grief over the death of his partner is far into the darkness. Where the fun story Max wrote with two outlaws rejecting all three of her suggested plot lines is clearly on the light side.

All things being equal, I guess I favor the tales in the middle. I find them the most thought provoking. That same preference shows itself in some of the episodes I like best. The Bounty Hunter, McCreedy Bust, Going, Going, Gone, The Reformation of Harry Briscoe, and Six Strangers at Apache Springs all ask serious questions with
humor. Many of the stories written about ASJ deal with serious and thought provoking subjects because of the premise the show gave us as a starting place, and also because the show itself asked many questions about the human condition. Huggins dealt with his topics with hope and humor, but the serious questions are still there if you look for them.

The Boutny Hunter tackles bigotry as an excuse for murder. GGG deals with questions of faith and forgiveness. Reformation of Harry Briscoe touches on social injustice for immigrants and what that might, or might not, justify. It also touches on the questions of fresh starts and forgiveness. Apache Springs deals with honor and the treatment of the native Americans. The show never belabors these points. It was not a vehicle for "message" entertainment, thank goodness. But often a seed of a thoughtful question is driving the plot.

In the stories penned by writers on this site, I see some of the same trends. I love the plot lines that remind me of episodes. They make me feel as if the show is still going on today. But my favorite stories take a difficult or tragic situation, and spin hope out of it. Remuda's pair of stories where first HH and then Kid confront someone from "that day" in Kansas are two of my favorites in this style. In both stories the outlaw lets the villain go free, breaking a cycle of killing and vengeance by their personal restraint. I see hope in this action, because it allows for the possibility of moving past the tragedy to a more peaceful place. The March challenge winner is another story that I found captivating. It's the one where Heyes helps out a woman (I think she was a working girl) and she repays him secretly by lying to the authorities so that he and the Kid are released from jail. I love the layers of right and wrong and mercy and justice and compassion all woven through this tale. Is it light or dark? I'm sure many of us might disagree.

For me, dark stories are the ones where hope is extinguished and the characters continue in despair with no belief that things may get better. Thankfully, I have read very few of those in ASJ fan fiction.

My favorite stories are the ones where the characters rise above the muck and mire of human frailty and injustice to bestow kindness and mercy where it is not deserved, and continue in hope no matter what obstacles they face. These stories are the truly "light" stories for me. They make me glad to be alive, give me hope, and make me cry.
Some of your stories have made me feel all of these things. Thank you for that.


From RosieAnnie

One more thought on the whole "dark" question. . . can we avoid angsty, occasional painful storylines when we all know what happened to Pete Duel? Doesn't that knowledge color everything we know about AS&J and the way we look at the characters?


From Remuda

RosieAnnie wrote:

One more thought on the whole "dark" question. . . can we avoid the angsty, occasional painful storylines when we all know what happened to Pete Duel? Doesn't that knowledge color everything we know about AS&J and the way we look at the characters?

Interesting thought, RosieAnnie.

Beyond physical description and the personalities with which the actors imbued them, I don't equate the characters with those playing the roles. The two sets of people -- real and fictional -- are distinct and separate from each other, and therefore, I do not feel they color any aspect of the characters or the series -- for me, anyway. Therefore, I tend to write them as the characters I see, and not as the real people they are or were.

However, although I enjoy the episodes Roger did and believed him as HH in them, when I use them as reference for writing, I picture Pete as Heyes, as he is Heyes in my mind (no disrespect meant to Roger, who is a fine actor in his own right).

As well, I opine that, if one writes enough of two set characters in different circumstances, it is difficult to avoid darker story lines. Mixing it up seems necessary so as not to be too repetitive in theme, and to have more variety. However, as has been stated herein, the angst might come from within the writer, and if the author "feels" deeply from the painful circumstance of another (i.e., one of the actors), it follows logically that that would imbue their writing.

For what it's worth...


From StormR

I am with you Remuda, the people and characters are seperated. To me Heyes is Pete and always will be. I have never watched a full episode with the other Heyes (I did try when it was on encore) it just didn't seem right to me. Although Pete is Heyes, Heyes is not Pete.

As for dark tones, I think we all have our own definition of dark. To me angst isn't dark, its...angst. The boys will somehow come out of the situation - maybe a little beat up (physically or emotionally) but still basically intact. Dark stories to me are the ones that offer no hope of returning to the basic "reality" I have for the boys.

It has been very interesting reading everyone's response and getting their views on "dark" and
"light" stories.


From skykomish

Though I can understand RosieAnnie's point, I am with Remuda and Storm on this one. When I think Heyes, I always see the dark-haired, dark-eyed one, but it's HEYES, and not Pete Duel, who makes my heart beat faster. They are separate people to me. That said, I do think Pete Duel's complex personality bleeds into the Heyes character, and from that perspective I can see how Pete's life colors the character, and as a result the stories which are written.


From EleanorW

I just read this topic with interest. Dark - h/c,angst etc - stories tend to be the most popular ones in fandom and, as you've all said, the reasons for that are difficult to clearly identify. Anyone who reads my fics knows that I am firmly ensconsed in the "dark" h/c, angst genre, although I do like to read light, amusing ones from time to time. I never really gave any thought to the style I write in, I just wrote what I enjoyed writing and felt I connected more with during the writing process, and that style just happened to be it. As Sistergrace says above, writing dark storylines can be therapeutic - a good way of exorcising ones own personal demons or working through real life problems. They are also compelling from a reading point of view also. It seems you can become so much more involved in a story where the characters are in dire peril, sick, injured or in emotional turmoil -- will they/won't they escape/recover/survive etc, -- than you can with a lighthearted story. As RosieAnnie says, indepth, highly emotional storylines are a quicker way to really get to know the characters' psyche than from reading lighter/comedic stories.

Also, as RosieAnnie commented, knowing what happened to Pete Duel definitely does, I think, have an influence on fics written by fans of his, certainly it does in my case. I believe a lot of h/c storylines for Heyes come from a desire to have Pete survive (through the character) in print what he didn't in real life, to re-write history, as it were.

Certainly the stories I've read that have made a lasting impression on me have all been highly emotional h/c or angst ones. I have attempted to write lighter ones in the past, but I just don't enjoy the process as much as getting involved in a deeply dark and angsty plotline which, for me anyway, is far more satisfying than writing a lighter, more superficial plotline.

In regards to separating the characters from the actors, as StormR commented, Pete (not Roger) is Heyes, but Heyes is not Pete. However, as Skykomish says, Pete's complex personality bleeds into Heyes' character and gave him dimensions that Roger, no matter how competent an actor, was unable to replicate because they were different as people, and, generally, the complexity of Pete's Heyes is so much more interesting to explore, from a fiction writing perspective, than Roger's less multi-faceted version, because there are so many sides (both real and implied) to the character's personality to utilise.

"Do you ever get the feeling that nothing right is ever going to happen to us again?" - Kid Curry
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PostSubject: Re: Dark Tone Stories   Sun Dec 25, 2016 10:12 pm

I have a bunny this month, but it's leisurely munching on a carrot. So I've been reading over some of these older posts hoping for more "hopping," and boy, are they interesting! Thanks, Penski, for making sure they are here for us late arrivals!
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