Tips on writing Dystopian fiction
Here are some of my favourite personal tips on how to create a good dystopian story.
1 – How was the world created?
A dystopian world is generally the modern world we live in but through a warped lens. It’s either filled with depravity and is a lawless wasteland of post apocalyptic carnage (Mountain Man series, The Road, Days Gone), or it is a hyper, satirical version of the world we have now, in which the laws and customs are hyperised (The Hunger Games, 1984). It can also be based of a focal point of something we take for granted which is then removed, such as reproduction (A Handmaidens Tale, Children of Men). Was it a pandemic? War? Famine? A totalitarian state?
Figure out which aspect of the above is the creation of your world, and begin to build the story around that.
2 – Characters.
Who is in the story? Are they Nomads trying to survive the wasteland , gathering recourses and other survivors? What are their intentions? Is it to create a safe haven? Make it through the harsh winter? Or is it to over throw their tyrannical state? How do they do this and what is the consequence of them not doing this?
3 – Threat.
What is the consequence of the characters going against the state? Is it imprisonment? Torture or death? Or if they get captured by slavers, or fractured tribes, what will happen to them? Introduce fear into the character of what will happen should they fail.
4 – Functionality of the new world.
Is there money that is traded for goods? Or is wealth traded through items, people, weapons? How do people exist in this new world? Is it a quest for social status and online notoriety (Black Mirror – Nose Dive), or is it through other means? Is it dog eat dog, kill or be killed? What does this conflict with the morals and values of the main character? Are there still laws in this world? Have they been amped up? What are the consequences of going against the state?
5 – Depravity.
A recurring theme running through Dystopian literature is depravity. The lack of consequence and the freedom for people to do what they want to who they want. Dystopia is seeing what happens if we remove the class structures (or make them more divided), laws (or make them tougher and more rigid) and seeing what happens when human beings are free to live how they want to live. Explore the depravity and violence of the human race. It makes for entertaining reading.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Please comment and feel free to share
I have also done a YouTube video on this topic exploring it in more detail.
Please search ‘Jay Darkmoore,’ for the video.