Hello, hello! Today we have a fun post from writer Chris Bedell. He’s going to talk to us a little bit about writing dystopian literature, and how he was able to put a new twist on tried and true tropes!
A Fresh Twist On Dystopian Literature
I’ve always wanted to write a YA (Young Adult) Fantasy novel with Dystopian elements for as long as I can remember. And it wasn’t because of how Dystopian literature exploded several years ago. Nope. My desire to write a Dystopian novel predates the trend—I’ve had the inclining since the end of 2007/beginning of the 2008. The problem was I just didn’t know the right story to tell. And the Dystopian genre quickly became saturated. However, in November of 2016, I found the right story to tell and started working on IN THE NAME OF MAGIC (which is forthcoming from NineStar Press with a tentative release date of August 6th). So, that brings me to the point of this blog post. I’d like to discuss how putting a fresh twist on a genre is possible.
One way I twist the Dystopian genre is through personal stakes. I do that because my main character Maximillian has a vested interest in fighting for his country’s (Magnifico’s) future. He hides his best friend Katherine because she’s born without magic, and is being subjected to persecution along with every other non-magical person in Magnifico. As a result, it makes sense why Maximillian wants to take down the evil queen (Queen Vivian).
The chosen one element is another trope for Dystopian/Fantasy literature. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Every story needs a hero and a villain. But the chosen one element might feel repetitive because it’s been done so many times. That being said, it is possible to make the chosen one element fresh. I did that by pushing the personal stakes beyond Maximillian helping his best friend Katherine. Therefore, it becomes inevitable that Maximillian will have a showdown with Queen Vivian. Although what the personal stakes are, I can’t mention. Doing so would reveal big spoilers.
Having morally ambiguous characters also complicates IN THE NAME OF MAGIC. And I’m not talking about making Queen Vivian likable. She’s does terrible things in my book, and rightfully deserves the “villain” label. Therefore, I’m talking about Maximillian. He’s not afraid to do whatever it takes to protect Katherine and stop Queen Vivian (within reason). And that’s important because life is often more complicated than people realize. And that means Maximillian must make some difficult choices.
Furthermore, the snowball effect also spins the Dystopian genre for IN THE NAME OF MAGIC. Readers see the snowball effect because I don’t start with do or die stakes. The stakes build, and build, and build. Not having too much conflict right away is important since that would alienate readers. They need a reason to care.
Ultimately, twisting a genre can be done even if it is challenging. Perhaps an author wants to write a YA Paranormal book. A way to add something fresh to YA Paranormal literature would be to have reverse the expectations and the paranormal character is the happy one and the human character is the dark and brooding one.
Chris Bedell’s previous publishing credits include Thought Catalog, Foliate Oak Literary, Entropy Magazine, and The Vignette Review to name several examples. Also, his YA Fantasy novel IN THE NAME OF MAGIC (which is the first book in a trilogy) is forthcoming from NineStar Press with a tentative release date of August 6th.