|Grimmer than grimdark, darker than darkgrim, splatter-elf is the darkest of all and clearly defined…by me.|
Warning: This post may have some mention of adult content. If you don’t want to read anything like that, no worries, just giving you a heads up!
Grimdark is one of those sub-genre names that seemed to crop up out of nowhere as a way to negatively portray the darker, grittier fantasy fiction that has come out as of late. Depending on who you ask, it’s either an exciting new sub-genre, or it’s a way to denigrate fiction that you don’t like because of it’s darker subject matter. Also, it seems no one can come to an agreement on what it even is. Is simply any dark fantasy fiction? Is it dark fantasy fiction that has at least 20 murders in it? Is it fantasy fiction that has lots of cursing and bleak outcomes? What is it?
No one seems to know for sure.
To help people out, I’ve come up with a sub-genre of my own: splatter-elf. (note the red font, because blood is red) What is splatter-elf? Well, it’s possibly the solution to all this grimdark business. It is clearly defined, clearly dark, and not open to interpretation. Easy to deal with, right?
Here are ten rules to follow for neophytes to the splatter-elf sub-genre of fantasy.
1. Splatter-elf must feature at least ten buckets of blood throughout. If your work features nine buckets full of blood, it doesn’t count.
2. Splatter-elf takes place in grim high fantasy worlds, meaning your elves have to be nasty and chew on rusty nails, your dwarves have to be beardless roving marauders, and your trolls have to be…trolls. Any invented races must be berserk and/or heartless mutant murderers. Humans don’t exist because they’re not grim enough. Or are they?
3. Every character must have at least 10 weapons. These weapons can be anything used to wound, maim, disfigure, mutilate, or kill someone. If they can’t do any of these things, they cannot be allowed. (Cheese therefore wouldn’t make a suitable splatter-elf weapon, unless it’s launched from a catapult and is melted and hot like boiling lava.)
4. Characters cannot smile. They can only do the following:
a. Nod disdainfully
e. Say some variation of “bloody”
g. Curse incessantly and often in tongues that do not exist in any real language (“Give me the scorkin’ knife or I’ll chop your floopin’ head off!)
5. Use of adverbs is widely accepted and in fact encouraged. Some examples:
a. The elf exploded superfluously.
b. The charging minotaur crushed the puny gnomes underhoof gleefully.
c. The wizard vomited rainbows violently.
6. All splatter-elf settings must be one of the following:
a. A dark tavern
b. A dimly lit tavern
c. A wasteland of some sort (desert, ice, silt, etc.)
d. A sea with body parts floating in it
e. A graveyard
f. Anywhere old and run down, basically
g. The broken skull of titan king (I know this is weirdly specific, but it’s my sub-genre, so my rules)
7. Dragons can only be allowed if they are feral and have no interest in interacting with other races in any way possible. They are not majestic, but snarling, spitting beasts that are creatures of wanton destruction. No characters can fall in love with/ride/befriend/change into a human or otherwise enjoy a dragon’s company
8. Love doesn’t exist, so no romantic sub-plots. If anything verging on a romantic sub-plot exists it must be quickly snuffed out by having one of the characters die in such a horrible way, that it forever scars the other person and they vow never to even think of falling in love again.
9. All of your characters have to lose something. This could be a family member, an ear, a bet, a really cool bracelet, one of their ten weapons, or anything else that would qualify as “a great loss.”
10. Every story ends with a body count of at least 25 characters. If your story doesn’t have 25 characters, 67% of your characters have to have died, 15% of them having been main characters. It’s also perfectly acceptable to write “And they all died.” Especially if you’re writing a long book series and can’t think of a better way to end it.
So those are the rules of splatter-elf. If there is any further confusion, make sure you come back to this post. If you don’t write exactly as I have laid out, then sorry, you can’t be qualified as a splatter-elf author. However, I can put you in an apprentice program in which you can learn how to be a splatter-elf author under my tutelage (for six easy installments of $25.95.)
Get out there and populate the world with splatter-elf, the only dark and grim fantasy genre that has clear guidelines!