Nowadays, it seems the majority of popular young adult novels that are coming out take place in devastated, dystopian worlds. There are even a good, hearty amount of non-YA dystopian novels. So, in keeping with trends, how should you go about writing your own dystopian world? Of course, just as with anything in writing, there is no set formula, but the following tips should help you in developing an idea for a dystopian world:
No society is created with the goal of being a terrible world; there is always a history, reasons why the society ended up in that dark place. It simply won’t make any sense if you just define the parameters of your society and expect your readers to roll with it. If some sort of odd or violent ritual or system is central to the story, there needs to be some explanation, otherwise people will probably end up confused and appalled as to why on earth things would run that way. Even if the story prevailed over this plot hole, the whole story would just seem a little sloppier.
2. Unique feature
To make a dystopian world that will survive the vicious critics out there, you need some unique, memorable feature. Though a dystopia technically is just an awful, degraded world, no one is going to get absorbed and enthralled by a society that just generally sucks in a vague, overall way. You need something different, some defining element that will set it apart from other dystopian worlds.
3. World that compliments the story
The world you create needs to be one that compliments the story you are trying to tell. Your dystopian world is the landscape of your story, the setting for your story. Take advantage of the society you’ve created, by making characters and subplots that could only exist within the parameters of that world. Make a world that intertwines with your storyline, and interacts with your characters.
4. Your world is not your story
Now, another key to creating a dystopian world is to not take that last tip too far; though your world should compliment the story, it shouldn’t be the story. Despite how original and unique the concept for your dystopian world might be, a world is not a plot, it is a setting. The world we live in, which is another very commonly used setting, is a world full of stories, but the world isn’t really a story itself.
These are ways to develop a dystopian world, but you can only do anything with these if you have a strong idea to begin with. Don’t try to come up with a universe according to these tips, simply use them to build on something you’ve created. And who knows, maybe some of these tips don’t flow with the world you created. Remember, writing is a creative adventure, not a formula.