Each of us has a story to tell. Whether we are writers, painters, designers, engineers, musicians or anything else, we have a past that has formed who we are and a present that allows us to reflect and dream, and a future that draws us forward. Each of these places, whether a place we have been, are in now or hope to be one day, adds a chapter to our story. It is up to each of us to share it.
In a dystopian story (one of my favorite genres), we explore social and political structures within a dehumanized, doomed society.
J. Gabriel Gates stated the following in the June 2014 “The Writer” edition when asked to describe the key elements to a dystopian story:
“Figure out how your story is relevant. Sure, premise, plot and character are all important in dystopian fiction, but the key is to understand how your story will shine a new light on our world today, and use that understanding to guide your writing.”
In addition, Gennifer Albin states ” It’s important to keep in mind that the dystopian elements of a story are merely a framework for your world and characters. When you focus on the struggle of people to love, to progress and to evolve within these at times outlandish constructs, you create a story that’s vivid while remaining relatable to readers.”
Finally, we hear the following from Samantha Shannon:
“For me, a good dystopian story, no matter how fantastical the setting, should be shaded with reality. It should dissect, defamiliarize and interrogate the world.”
Dystopian stories, such as George Orwell’s 1984 or Animal Farm, Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” and even Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games”, convey a message mixed with warning and potential doom as the authors weave together a story not only to entertain but certainly to forewarn.
As our world today in 2014 continues to change for the worse, tearing apart at the seams, each of us has the opportunity to pay attention, understand what role each incident contributes and do whatever we can to stop the unraveling in its tracks. No matter how small a part we play, each individual act has the power to build upon another until an army of believers is able to change the course of history.
A dystopian story is like one of those emergency broadcasts that interrupt a television program with the latest whether alert or other warning that can not wait. Mixed with a fantastical story to entertain us and a forewarning of inevitable disaster, it jolts us awake from our ignorance.
The dystopian story opens up our minds to the potential and empowers us to become engaged and to be aware at the very least or even perhaps to shine a new light on our dark world today.