GUEST POST: Writing Romance, Dystopian Style

Today we are joined by Rie Warren with a really interesting post. She talks about what writing romance with a dystopian setting.

Guest Post

Dystopian worlds are typically fraught with political tension, dangerous scenarios, and oppression. The characters are pitted against impossible odds—not just in their search for love but also in daily life. These unique details create an interesting set of challenges when writing an adult dystopian romance.

One of the fun parts about writing books like these is seeing the challenges as opportunities to enrich the love story. And boy, did I set myself some high challenges with the Don’t Tell series.

But let’s start with a crash course in world building (I promise, I won’t get too in-depth) before we get to the ooh la la part. I wanted to create a future world that wasn’t farfetched. The Don’t Tell books take place in the 2070s after major environmental events fifty years earlier caused the annihilation of much of the world’s population and resources.

I kept the catastrophes and political mayhem in the *gasp* backstory believable and tried to do the same with the books’ current policies. I want readers to react to the possibility that this could happen.

The benefit with this type of world-build is you have the opportunity to start basically from scratch. You’ve got carte blanche from government regimes, societal rules, basic lifestyle . . . the list can go on forever. It’s probably best to limit yourself though.

Okay, now onto the good stuff. The oh so good stuff.

How do you make something sexy out of a usually bleak, dreary world? Some of the romance action in this series takes place inside heavily controlled militarized cities. Where’s the hotness in that? Easy answer: Secret trysts, forbidden hook-ups, heart-pounding lust escalating with the risk of being captured.

I also included a distinctly utopian setting to counteract the dark monotony of the cities. These places are called Communes, where the people live off the grid. The communers provide a backdrop of free will, free love, and an openly hedonistic lifestyle.

How does the romance grow inside books that could also be read as thrillers? Easily, you’ve already set yourself up with the ultimate high stakes. Writing dystopian is similar to writing paranormal. Life and death situations make the attraction that much more perilous. Everything can turn on a dime. No one knows whom to trust. That spells super fun times to me!

In these Don’t Tell books, my couples are “star-crossed lovers”. They have (or seemingly have) opposite endgames, yet they’re powerless to fight their attraction, even if they’re fighting on opposing sides of the Revolution.

In In His Command, my main character Cannon believes Nathaniel is out to get him. Yet, he wants Nathaniel more than he’s ever wanted anyone else even if it means he’s jeopardizing his life. Liz—the heroine from On Her Watch—finds herself dangerously attracted to Linc, a powerful man she’s led to believe is out to destroy her. In Under His Guard . . . oops! I can’t tell you what happens between Darke and Leon. You’ll have to read it.

Think intrigue, action, and drama plus hot, passionate romance. The two parts intertwine and spur each other on. In the Don’t Tell series, the romance and the Revolution build throughout the books, and now it ends with a race against time in Under His Guard.

That’s the essence of an adult dystopian romance.

Warren_Under His Guard_E-Book

Check out Rie’s latest release, UNDER HIS GUARD


Rebel soldier Darke lost his lover during the early stages of the InterNations war. Only the flirtatious attentions of the gorgeous Leon Cheramie brought him back from heartbreak and grief. Unwilling to get attached again, Darke has fought their undeniable attraction to one another. But when Leon’s life is threatened, Darke cannot deny what’s been brewing between them.

After escaping certain death at the hands of the enemy, the brave and determined Leon has proven himself capable of fighting in the war. The only thing he hasn’t been able to do is capture the heart of the fearless warrior Darke. When a huge victory is won for the revolutionaries, Darke and Leon finally give in to their feelings for one another.

But the celebration is short-lived when Leon is infected with a deadly virus. He’s a human time bomb set to plague the entire rebel population. Now, the final endgame of the war is pitted against the rebels’ race to find a cure before Leon becomes a full-blown carrier and Darke loses the man who managed to win his love and bring him back to life.

About the author

Rie WarrenRie Warren lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with her English artisan husband and their two small daughters–one an aspiring diva, the other a future punk rocker. Giving up paintbrushes for paper and pen, Rie began her writing career fifteen years ago with a manuscript of super epic proportions. Safely stored under a lace doily in a filing cabinet. Possibly in England.

A nocturnal creature, she adjourns to her woman cave each night in search of wondrous words, rich characters, and thrilling plots to keep readers turning the page. Whether writing contemporary, gay, or paranormal romance, Rie combines heart, heat, and humor with a sexy southern edge.

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