Light versus Darkness in Storytelling
The interplay of light and dark is a fundamental storytelling tool, woven into narratives since the dawn of cave paintings. It’s more than just a visual contrast; it taps into our primal fears and hopes, shaping the emotional landscape of our stories.
Light often symbolizes goodness, knowledge, truth, and hope. It’s the sun breaking through the clouds, the hero’s triumphant return, or a character’s moment of understanding. We associate it with warmth, safety, and clarity.
Darkness, on the other hand, represents evil, ignorance, mystery, and danger. It’s the lurking monster in the shadows, the villain’s sinister lair, or a character’s descent into despair. It evokes fear, uncertainty, and the unknown.
But the beauty of this dichotomy lies in its complexity. In art, light and dark are used to create contrast and depth, with shadows and highlights adding dimension to a piece. Light and dark are rarely absolute. They bleed into each other, creating shades of gray that make our stories richer and more nuanced.
- A seemingly good character might harbor dark secrets.
- A villain might have a tragic backstory that sheds light on their motivations.
- A moment of despair can give birth to newfound courage.
This dance between light and dark creates tension and suspense, keeping us guessing as writers and readers and invested in the outcome. It allows us to explore the full spectrum of human emotions and experiences, making stories truly resonate.
Here are some classic literature and film examples of how light and dark are used in storytelling:
- Star Wars: The epic battle between the light of the Jedi and the darkness of the Sith.
- The Lord of the Rings: Frodo’s perilous journey to destroy the One Ring, a symbol of ultimate evil, in the fires of Mount Doom.
- Harry Potter: The ongoing struggle between good and evil, personified by Harry and Voldemort.
Beyond these grand narratives, the interplay of light and dark is present in countless stories, big and small. It’s a powerful tool that allows us to explore the complexities of the human condition and the world around us.
In A Little Highland Magic, the fifth book in the Guardian of the Isles series, Aria, who is half fae, half human, yearns for the warmth of her human family after years of living as an outsider in the fairy realm. By escaping Fairyland, not only has she made an enemy of Oberon, the king of the fairies, but she learns that the fairy king still has control over her.
To break those ties and to right a wrong done to the MacLeods, Aria joins forces with Graeme Duff to travel back to Fairyland where she must confront not only the creatures of the dark, but also the darkness within herself. Success relies on a perilous journey and the unyielding support of her human kin, especially Graeme, who is untouched by Oberon’s influence. He serves as a reflection of Aria’s true potential. His unwavering belief in her goodness pushes Aria to confront the fairy king and break free from Oberon’s control.
Like a firefly flickering in the night, A Little Highland Magic illuminates the shadows with laughter and love, reminding us that the brightest light often emerges from the deepest darkness.
What book or movie has stayed with you because it explored the complexities of good and evil?
About the Author.
Gerri Russell is the award-winning author of historical and contemporary novels including the Brotherhood of the Scottish Templars series and Flirting with Felicity. A two-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award and winner of the American Title II competition sponsored by RT Book Reviews magazine, she is best known for her adventurous and emotionally intense novels set in the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Scottish Highlands. Before Gerri followed her passion for writing romance novels, she worked as a broadcast journalist, a newspaper reporter, a magazine columnist, a technical writer and editor, and an instructional designer. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four mischievous black cats.