So You Want To / Write a Dystopia

A dystopia is the opposite of a utopia. A state where the government is corrupt, and crimes run amok. If you want to write your own piece of dystopian fiction, it is recommended that you read these tips before you get started:


Most works of dystopian fiction are set in the future, but this is not always the case. Some works of dystopian fiction could be alternative histories, and be set in the past. For example, if the Nazis had won the Second World War in your story, then a dystopia set in the past is not out of the question.

You should decide about the government of this society. Are they a fascist dictatorship? They usually are, but not always. Sometimes, a small group of people can rule over an individual country with an iron fist. What laws does this society have? Are its citizens being constantly monitored? Are people allowed to reproduce the old fashioned way, or are babies grown in factories? The choice is up to you.

Who is the hero of your story? The heroes of dystopian works of fiction are usually citizens who want to escape their evil society who are being constantly monitored by the authorities. Alternatively, a defector of the authorities struggling to undo the disaster may also become the hero.

Another option is an Anti-Hero or even a Villain Protagonist who exploited the system while pushing everyone's suffering even further, intentionally or not. Occasionally, they may start out as a genuine hero wanting to end the system by fighting against the authorities, only to gradually become the very thing they're trying to hunt down.

How did this society come to exist? Who founded it? A cold-blooded dictator playing god? An extremist went wrong? The crowd of citizens? Or a Religion of Evil governed by an Eldritch Abomination?

How does this society perpetuate itself? Dystopias are not nice places to live, and people want to improve their lives and their societies. If there are people working to prevent change, what's in it for them? Is there a ruling class that gets what they want and violently oppress everyone else? Do people believe that this society, while not ideal, is better than any alternative? Do people believe that there is an existential threat like a war of extermination or zombie apocalypse that justifies harsh measures? Do people just value conformity or their ideology more than happiness?

Do your protagonists end the dystopia? If so, how? If they exploit some societal flaw, why hadn't anyone else done it before? Do they escape the dystopia? If so, where do they go and have others escaped before?

These are the types of questions you'll need to answer before getting started on your story.

Good luck, and have fun!