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5 Ways Dystopian Fiction May Surprise You

Kath here. Please welcome author Karen Duvall [1] to Writer Unboxed today. Karen is an award winning author published with Harlequin Luna and is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy romance series. We were pleased when Karen agreed to guest post about dystopian fiction, which is enjoying incredible longevity and strength within the SF/F genre. Karen says,

Dystopian, or post-apocalyptic fiction, is a fascinating subgenre of fantasy and my first experience writing it for Harlequin Luna’s ‘TIL THE WORLD ENDS [2] anthology offered me a creative outlet I’m eager to explore.

To learn more about Karen, follow her on Twitter @KarenDuvall or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/karen.duvall2 [3]

Take it away, Karen!

5 Ways Dystopian Fiction May Surprise You

Wow, we just barely escaped the end of the world, didn’t we? It turns out the Mayan Calendar wasn’t about the world ending after all, but the end of a cycle. That’s not to say it can’t still happen.

When Harlequin Luna invited me to contribute a novella to an anthology called ‘TIL THE WORLD ENDS, I was thrilled with the invitation, and slightly intimidated by the genre. I write urban fantasy and the anthology has a dystopian theme. I’ve been reading dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction for years, but I’d never tried writing it before. Enjoyment of the genre gave me confidence I could create a good story, but what surprised me were the revelations I made in the process.

  1. An endless supply of scenarios – How many ways could the world end? Dozens, and all can be spun in a variety of possibilities. The subject opens a distinct avenue of creativity and an opportunity to invent something totally different. I came up with five story ideas for my editor to choose from. The one about devastating solar storms ravaging the planet was selected, but I still plan to pursue my idea about bees for a future project.
  2. In-depth exploration of current events – The best stories are often rooted in reality, and there’s no shortage of potential problems the world is currently facing that could lead to its demise. I learned a lot while conducting my research. Education is always a welcome bonus.
  3. Try out your science fiction wings – Though dystopian stories are fantasy, there’s often some science responsible for putting an end to the world as we know it. Geological, astronomical, meteorological, virological… Adding a fantasy twist to the science is both challenging and fun. It also affects the world-building because post-apocalyptic environments are tainted with visual, social, political and emotional devastation as a result of cataclysmic events.
  4. Romantic conflict – Vulnerabilities abound in an unmade world where people seek companionship, guidance, consolation and support. When survival is at stake, we turn to those we trust, and we crave the one thing even the ending of the world can’t take away from us: our ability to love. Getting it and keeping it may not be easy in a dangerous world that’s all but destroyed. There are so many delicious opportunities here for romance.
  5. Characters put to the test – Will the good guys continue to be good and the bad guys only get worse in a post-apocalyptic world? When faced with the ultimate test for survival, you can imagine how such a life-changing event might affect people. Good guys may not be so good anymore, and the bad guys could discover a more honorable side to themselves. Communities will be forced to cooperate if they want to live on the limited resources they have available. It’s incredible what you can learn about people in the face of adversity.

If you’re looking to expand your fiction repertoire, the dystopian genre could be the right choice for you. I know I’m hooked, with more story ideas brewing. If you were to write a dystopian tale, what would it be about?