Dystopia – it’s the new hot trend. Everyone wants to read about a world more screwed up than this one.
For those of you not immersed in YA literature, I’ll give you a definition: a dystopia is a world that seems perfect on the outside, but is actually really messed up. Think The Giver. Uglies. Delirium.
Even if you had no idea that dystopia was a word – thankfully my spellcheck recognizes it – you may be incorporating it into your writing. Here’s a quick (or maybe not) list of elements often found in dystopia novels:
– an oppressive regime that people, for some unknown reason, love
– brainwashing from an early age (may explain number one)
– blatant censorship – may also work by presenting older works as ‘stupid’ or ‘misguided’
– some sort of rebellion working outside the society
– spies and turncoats (not necessary, but they make it a lot more fun)
– cool technology (as such novels are usually set in the future)
– some sort of rite of passage at a specific age
– no freedom of choice
– people see the world or aspects of it differently
– for some reason, these novels often appear as trilogies
– a disenchanted teenager will lead a revolution
– the corrupt society will kill without remorse for the ‘greater good’
– authorities/law enforcers are generally pretty nasty
Any other ideas? I just came up with these from the dystopia novels I’ve read. I’m guilty of writing one – my last NaNo – and they’re pretty fun. You get to find the flaws in our world and magnify them to a terrible scale. Basically, you get to be a prophet of doom, without getting as many weird looks as the guy sitting on the curb waving a sign reading ‘The End is Near’.
It’s all in the presentation.