How to write Dystopian?
Posted by Beatrice P. over 4 years ago
I've been wanting to write a dystopian novel for a while, but I can't think of anything that hasn't been done before. Could anyone give me some tips or ideas on how to start one, without directly saying something to write about? I just want a general idea, so the piece could still be original. Thank you beforehand!
over 4 years ago Belle Rez Winter replied:
Think of something you cannot live without, and take it out. Think of something that's horrible, and add a lot of it. Smooth out the edges, and paint it gray.
I'm not sure where the last bit came from... But do that too.
over 4 years ago Saruman replied:
Utopian and dystopian fiction
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The utopia and its offshoot, the dystopia, are genres of literature that explore social and political structures. Utopian fiction is the creation of an ideal world, or utopia, as the setting for a novel. Dystopian fiction is the opposite: creation of a nightmare world, or dystopia. Many novels combine both, often as a metaphor for the different directions humanity can take in its choices, ending up with one of two possible futures. Both utopias and dystopias are commonly found in science fiction and other speculative fiction genres, and arguably are by definition a type of speculative fiction.
More than 400 utopian works were published prior to the year 1900 in the English language alone, with more than a thousand others during the twentieth century.
Dystopia is defined as a society characterized by poverty, squalor, or oppression. Most authors of dystopian fiction explore at least one reason why things are that way.
Dystopias usually extrapolate elements of contemporary society and are read by many as political warnings. Many purported utopias reveal a dystopian character by suppressing justice, freedom and happiness. Samuel Butler's Erewhon can be seen as a dystopia because of the way sick people are punished as criminals while thieves are cured in hospitals, which the inhabitants of Erewhon see as natural and right, i.e. utopian (as mocked in Voltaire's Candide).
Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World is a more subtle and more threatening dystopia because he projected into the year 2540 industrial and social changes he perceived in 1931, leading to a fascist hierarchy of society, industrially successful by exploiting a slave class conditioned and drugged to obey and enjoy their servitude.
George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dystopian novel about a coercive and impoverished totalitarian society, conditioning its population through propaganda rather than drugs. Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale describes a future North America governed by strict religious rules which only the privileged dare defy.
More information to be found here at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dystopia
I give you all this information trying to help you see that writing about dystopia is really writing about a society that is dissatisfying, a society that is unhappy and willing to enforce this unhappiness for the sake of a good the people at large, are unaware of. Your job is to create a world where a thing that you and I might take for granted, would be forbidden, outlawed, unavailable, or regulated so that having it costs an inordinate fee, and you will start having a dystopia. The question of writing dystopias is not creating them. The question is deciding how to defy them and make that defiance interesting and compelling.
over 4 years ago Belle Rez Winter replied:
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU!!!
<3 1984 by G.O.
over 4 years ago fudge rabbitt replied:
This may sound cliche, but set it far into the future. Perhaps society as we know it has been destroyed by war, or natural disasters. Start with that. And then imagine how society works now. Is the government corrupt, or polished. Is there a government at all? Imagine how everyday life is for a civilian. Try starting with a short story, and see if it can turn into a novel.
over 4 years ago Tina Jameson replied:
This is a good question, which I would love the answer to as well. I love dystopian fiction, but I feel that pretty much everything has been done, and I don't want mine to seem mediocre in comparison.
over 4 years ago Delbert McGill replied:
Check out Philip K Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep which was the first Cyberpunk Novel, It's setting is what I would call dystopian. Thought I can't remember the author Logan's Run is another good one.
You might want also check a lot of Anime such as Cowboy Bebop.
about 4 years ago Evimarie Ludinski replied:
Suggested reading:Shipbreaker (Paolo Bacigalupi) Maze Runner (James Dashner), Extras (Scott Westerfeld), Lord of the Flies (William Golding), most Dickensian novels, House of the Scorpian (Nancy Farmer. Which I haven't actually read, but which is both highly recommended by most people I know who have read it, and also English-teacher-approved Dystopian.)
Like Isabella said, Dystopian is where you take the basic human needs (i.e. food, water, shelter, creativity/spirituality, etc.,) and you take it away. Dystopian has to be in an environment where the characters are for some reason forced out of their humanity (Unless you're reading Animal Farm, in which case it's their Animalness or innocence or something like that. Who knows.)
In answer to Tina Jamesons'comment deploring original ground in the subject, I suggest you try to steer away from the "Oppressive government" popularized by the Hunger Games (Don't re-write Matched. It wasn't that good a book to begin with.) Avoid that, at least, unless you have something very detailed and original, such as Scott Westerfeld, or something MORE evil such as James Dashner, or something similar but different, such as Moira Young's Bloodred Road (In which it is an oppressive Monarchy.)
about 4 years ago Melissa Lencioni replied:
If you're worried about it having been done before, then don't. Pretty much every idea has been done before. I suggest picking a dystopian world you want to write about, whether it's original or not, and then focusing on making your characters believable, relate-able people. Writers always get their inspiration from somewhere, so it's natural that your work is going to resemble someone else's, especially if you're trying to fit into a specific genre. The way to make it original is to put your own individual spin on it, make it yours somehow, whether it be your writing style, your characters, your sense of humor, or how you describe the setting. If you make it your own, and enjoy writing it, then it will be original, because it's ultimately your take on the matter.
about 4 years ago Tina Jameson replied:
Thanks! And to Evimarie, I wasn't going to do an oppressive government type thing, even though I love the Hunger Games. Thank you for your help!!!
about 4 years ago JoHarper replied:
What a good question, when you get a good answer can you hit me up cuz I've been trying to get that answer too!
over 3 years ago Elizabeth replied:
Dystopia is a social commentary. Keep tucked away in your head some societal issue that's at the core of your work, because that's the whole point of dystopia. You need to be making some sort of point about people/society/humanity/government, because you're showing us some flaw(s) in the world gone to the umpteenth degree. I agree with many who have said already that classic dystopia is good research - look at 1984, Brave New World, House of the Scorpion, A Modest Proposal, Warm Bodies (tho that last isn't a classic :P), etc. They're really good starting points and they're really razor focused on their message.Flag Reply Last updated over 3 years ago