Last night I discovered the term “noblebright.” I’m still geeking out about it. *happy squeak* 😀
It describes so much of what I write, and the tone of almost all my favorite stories. Finding this term is like finding a word to describe a mood I have seen and loved all my life, but not had a way to describe. It makes me so happy.
The term “noblebright” was created as a reaction to the negative term “grimdark,” which generally describes a setting that is dystopian, amoral, pessimistic, and/or violent – think Game of Thrones, or possibly Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. (The last few books of Harry Potter might also be described as “grimdark” in tone, although overall I don’t believe the series could be called grimdark.)
This Wiki page describes the differences between grimdark and noblebright:
In a grim world, no matter what you do, an individual can’t secure more than an individual victory, if even that, because the rest of the world is too big/scared/powerless/selfish to act upon his impulse. A noble world is one where the action of a single hero can change the world, and a single big villain can f*** it all up : there are important people, who are so either by birth, rank or sheer willpower, and every single one of these people matter.Now, a bright world is one full of opportunity, of wondrous sights to behold. It doesn’t mean that it has to be [My Little Pony], it can be dangerous, but your first instinct when looking at a new location should be awe and wonder: people may adventure to save the world, but they leave town with a smile upon their face, eager to see what comes next. The shadow of Risk is largely erased by the glint of Adventure. … A dark world is one where life sucks, and usually not long: whether it be because of demon overlords… or even the lack of water, everyone in this story may die, and they die for good.”
(There are also hybrids like nobledark – heroic heroes fighting evil in a very dark world – and grimbright – which I guess would be the ability to secure only individual victories in a world of wonder and adventure?…weird combo. But I’m just sticking to the two main terms here.)
There is a basic worldview difference between these kinds of stories.
There are the stories where there is no hope, no meaning, and no lasting joy to human existence, where everything is sad and pessimistic – versus the stories where lives are meaningful because every individual makes a difference, good triumphs against evil in both small and great ways, there is beauty in the world, and there is real hope of victory.
Which of these is truer to my own worldview as a Christian? The answer is obvious.
Now. I believe there is truth to grimdark stories as well. The world is fallen, cruel, full of atrocities and sometimes unspeakable evils. Sometimes we need to look that in the face. Sometimes we need grimdark stories. They show us truth about this passing life. We need to confront not just the evil in the world but the evil in ourselves. We do live in a universe where “good people” do bad things, where every person has a dark side (except Christ).
But that’s not where my worldview ends. When I look at the universe I see a noblebright place. I see true beauty. I see right and wrong. I see God working through even the worst circumstances to bring about ultimate glory for Himself and joy for His people.
Noblebright stories include: The Lord of the Rings [edit: one could argue this one is more nobledark], The Chronicles of Narnia, Firefly, some Marvel movies, and most 0f Star Trek. There may be horrible villains, and dark parts of the tales, but a sense of wonder, morality, and nobility courses through these stories. Beauty is real. Life might be full of despair and destruction but that is not the end of the story. The heroes might be flawed, but they are ultimately fighting for the good, and good will ultimately win.
I never knew there was a word for it. I knew it was there. I knew this undercurrent of hope, light, and beauty ran through all the stories I love the most. It was part of my goals as an author to create worlds like this, running deep with joy, beauty, and love. But I didn’t know it had a name. And now I do!
I love noblebright.
Noblebright stories forever!!! 😀
Do you like stories that are darker or lighter in tone? Which kind of truth impacts you more? What are some awesome examples of noblebright stories you’ve seen or read (because I want to know more!!)?