I've been reading Strobist lately and love the moody half-lit-half-dark effect in a lot of these types of photos. I'm a beginner and have a limited equipment budget, so I got a 45" reflective/shoot-through umbrella.
It gives great softness for the really low price. However, I find that I can't get the really dark areas/high contrast in my portraits. I think that this is because the excess light from my strobe is bouncing off my room walls and coming back at my subject. This effectively creates a new "ambient" light source (I've killed the real ambient) that prevents the deep shadows.
What are some good ways to work around this? Bonus points for being low-cost.