The full name is, Dither’s Hypothesis of Awesome Fiction Established Through Achievement of Zombie Equilibrium. I’m proposing a level of awesomeness that can be obtained in a piece of narrative fiction when the story establishes what I’m calling the “Zombie Equilibrium.” That is to say, a narrative formula achieved through a clear zombie-to-awesomeness balance.

Not every story can be made better through the insertion of zombies, but many can. I think that’s because zombies, here loosely defined as a plot device with incredible narrative flexibility, such that it can be made to represent any organization of determined, single-minded individuals, can be used to “solve for” awesome.

On one side of the equation, you have awesome, which draws devoted fans, and may be what lots of speculative fiction is written to achieve — and on the other side, you have a pretty typical the narrative formula for speculative fiction. The hypothesis I’m proposing, the “Zombie Equilibrium,” is the point at which you can insert zombies into your narrative and make your work of speculative fiction awesome.

Zombies have a pretty broad range of fictional applicability, since they can be used to represent any organization of single-minded, determined individuals. In our modern age, it is far easier and more common for individuals to organize, whether via public meeting-places, mailing lists, phone trees, email, social networking… options grow.

Zombies can actually be any of a number of things — they could even be vampires, werewolves, or the xenomorph/face-huggers from the Alien franchise — they’re just about any monster that attacks people and can either transform an individual or “lay eggs in people” as a method of procreation. That transformation process scares people, as does the ability of the monster to pass as human for any length of time.

Horror, like humor, can be an effective method of communicating narrative themes. I’ve heard it said that the storyteller who can make you laugh can make you cry, enrage you, or make you hate yourself. I think many of the same things can be said about horror, which could well be farther up the intellectual/emotional food chain than humor. If a storyteller can scare you, they can make you do anything.

So, you want to make your books awesome? Figure out the point at which you can insert zombies, make them believable in the context of your narrative, make them scary, and you’ll have a winning formula. In effect, what you’ve achieved is a certain amount of, “if you can scare your readers, you can make them read your stories.”