Darksiders Verse Series: Introduction

I decided to write down, “tell, not show”, outright spell out, my Darksiders Verse in a series of posts. By “Verse” I mean my reading of canon mixed with outright headcanon (HC). Some might argue that “my reading of canon” is HC, but I disagree. Canon can be controversial, and Darksiders canon in particular was put together with less care for consistency and continuity than it could’ve been, so diverse readings of same content are sometimes possible (and I often favor those less literal, obvious and consequently, less popular). If I called this “Darksiders HC Series” I would be conceding points in the discourse that I have no reason (nor wish) to concede. So Verse it is.

Anyway, it’s lately become something of a guilty pleasure of mine to write long posts about why I want to write other long posts instead of writing those long posts I actually want to write — and this is one of them! There will be no Verse here: just all my thoughts and feelings about the act of spelling it out.

Tl;dr: I want to write it down because I no longer care enough to “save it” for rendering through stories; and also because I fear I might forget it.

Which isn’t to say I won’t be writing any more Darksiders stories. At the very least, I plan to finish the Legendary Series, but I may do more eventually. I’m still interested in this franchise (which is more than I could say about Mass Effect, nowadays) — just not as much as before.

My Darksiders obsession started about a year and a half ago, when I played Darksiders: Genesis, and became enamored with War and Strife. I have since made the following fanish achievements:

  • I made several new friends! You know who you are. ❤️
  • I published eight stories, totaling about 42500 words (that’s about half a decent-sized novel) and wrote as much or more for future pieces. 📖
  • I analyzed and made a piano cover for the Genesis Soundtrack Main Theme. 🎶
  • I learned to draw, lol, and made a whole bunch of fanart. 🖼️

It’s safe to say that being in this fandom has been Very Good for me! However, the obsession that fueled the contributions above has recently subsided. Mainly because I’ve found a new one: As Meat Loves Salt (AMLS). But there’s another factor:

Apart from a few (read: two) friends and a couple (like up to five) fandom acquaintances and/or followers, I basically don’t know anyone who’s interested in the kind of stuff I make. By which I mean my OTP, War/Strife.

My stories on AO3 have, over time, accumulated a decent number of notes. But taking my latest work — Fury’s Embrace — as an example: after many months of effort and numerous revisions required to weave half a dozen complex ideas into a succinct account of a single scene that I envisioned long ago, the story has only been seen by about 100 people in the three months since publication, and only every 10th visitor actually read the story to the end (assuming such readers are those who leave kudos). I struggle to see this level of engagement as fair “return” for my “investment”.

Similarly, while my art pieces involving all Four Horsemen, or neutral themes that don’t suggest any shipping, get a good number of notes (given my beginner-tier art-skills) it’s the War/Strife pieces that I care about the most, and they’ve generated almost no engagement at all.

The traditional reply to this kind of complaint is: what do you care? Write/draw for yourself! Isn’t that the point of fanworks to begin with?

No. It’s not. It’s not really the point of any creative endeavor, though it may be a big part of it. Having recently entered an even tinier niche with AMLS, I’ve discovered that I in fact can, and do, enjoy creating fanworks that are “just for me”. But the point is to share: to reach, and hopefully make happy, some likeminded people who will appreciate the work, and in turn be happy to learn that one’s work is appreciated. Yes, I love reading my own stories, and looking at my own art, and the very act of creation comes with its own rewards which are unrelated to reception. But still, the cold welcome of the Darksiders fandom, which has failed utterly to make me feel at home, with its heteronormative values and literal, unimaginative reading of the canon, has certainly made a dent in my motivation.

Now, how’s this related to making the Darksiders Verse Series?

Basically, I feel it’s alright to spell out the Verse now, because I no longer care for rendering it as much as I did before.

It’s a bit like the much-abused “rule” of writing, “show, don’t tell”. Writing down the Verse is like telling. I’ll just tell you my reading of the canon and all my wild ideas. Opposed to that would be weaving my reading of canon and my wild ideas into stories. That’s like showing.

Showing the Verse is much more difficult than telling, because:

  1. Verse is mostly about stuff that all actors in my stories already know (though the reader may not). For example, Strife, Fury and Death would all know that War’s arm was cut below the elbow, not above it (like most of the fandom maintains), so rendering this idea in a story, such that it doesn’t come across as info-dumping, is a challenge. A good kind of challenge! But still: more difficult than just spelling it out in a blog post.
  2. Verse may diverge from canon in subtle ways, and when rendered subtly (as per the point above), the diverging details might not get enough emphasis to catch the reader’s attention and trigger the intended, “oh, wow! this is brilliant!” kind of response. Making sure the “revelation” of Verse is clear and effective is another challenge.
  3. Verse is sometimes complicated and may require more exposition than befits the story designated to show it off. This was one of the problems that turned Fury’s Embrace into an almost year-long endeavor, and I’m still not convinced that it succeeds in any of the three points above.
  4. Related (perhaps identical) to the previous point, is that the stories I write are about characters and relationships, not about the world (and Verse). Showing Verse is always secondary, mostly opportunistic, and rarely planned for. This makes all the previous points additionally problematic.

Compared to this, just spelling it all out if effortless. I could do it with my eyes closed. There’s no challenge in it, and nothing to learn from it. I may develop some new ideas while writing down the existing ones, but it won’t exercise my writing muscles. I used to crave such exercise: because it’s fun, challenging and rewarding. But like I said before, I no longer crave it as much, at least when it comes to Darksiders. My writing muscles are nowadays fully loaded with original stuff and AMLS. So it’s alright to just “tell”. Again, it doesn’t mean I’ll be spilling all the beans. There will be no significant spoilers in the Verse Series for the future Darksiders stories I intend to write.

Spelling out the Verse comes with the considerable perks of having all the time and space to explain, emphasize and exhort. It will also provide the motivation and framework to store the Verse before I forget it. Much of it I have in notes, and although my interest has lessened, it hasn’t expired completely, so much of it is still at hand in memory too. Last but not least, it’s a way to stay engaged with this franchise I’m still attached to, and find inspiration.

Here’s what I plan to write:

  • On Nephilim creation and procreation
  • On Death’s 500-years absence, mentioned in The Abomination Vault
  • On Crowfather’s chains
  • On Horsemen pre-Horsemen histories
  • Chaoseater is a Grand Abomination
  • Strife is Andras, one of the demons from Ars Goetia
  • On soul tethers and the Well of Souls
  • What makes Humans special
  • On Balance and Corruption, or What Really Happened in DS1, 2 and 3

I’ve no idea if this plan is feasible. Chiefly I suspect I may not be able to achieve clean division between these topics, and I don’t intend to wait for it all to be written before publishing so I could reference things from later down the list. We’ll see. I’ll return here to link and edit as I go.

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