A TYPICAL YA DYSTOPIA 'RECIPE'
Dystopia is still, surprisingly, the It Thing for YA fiction. Which is slightly annoying because for every good one, at least three feel like The Hunger Games lite (our lovely fad reignite-r). The following is a list of common re-occurrences I have noticed over the years, based off books I have read and found on shelves. (WARNING: sarcasm!)
- 1.Create your HeroineOr hero on occasion. She'll be conventionally pretty yet also mostly (if not completely) friendless. Does she have a family? Maybe but it's rarely important.
- 2.Give her a name!The more ridiculous the better. Because that's the way to emphasis dystopia. Strange/uncommon names.
- 3.Think of a settingIt should be something with the vague feeling of districts, in homage to the great one that restarted this genre. Or pick a random buzz topic from the news and go with that without much extra thought. Probably should vaguely set it in America. In fact, just America. Other continents do not exist. Also there was probably a war of some kind. It's mandatory.
- 4.World BuildingWho cares? Not like dystopia is based off social commentary or anything. Just mention a vague bunch of things like global warming, an invasion or even superpowers with the government melting down in its wake. No one will care once the romance starts.
- 5.PerspectiveIn a nutshell: First person. With only one view point, your protagonist. You can use this to get away with no explaining things about the setting to your readers. Also make sure they spend half their time worrying about their love interest or their attractiveness rather than whatever situation you put them in. Because that's COMPLETELY logical.
- 6.Build the romantic interest!This'll be the key thing that carries your story. The romantic relationship. No other kind of relation is important. Make him or her ridiculously attractive so that your protagonist will get distracted at plot convenient moments. Also make it SUPER obvious the moment that person shows up. Insta-love is the best after all.
- 7.The love triangle!For tension. Always. Did your protagonist have a friend? Congrats, Insta-drama. Not like relationship drama could come from anything else, like different views or anything. No siree.
- 8.Diversity of any kindVague references, underdeveloped or the first to die. But hey! You included them! Pat yourself on the back you good author you. You are clearly raising the bar.
- 9.Key wordsIt just isn't a dystopia without new-fangled words to refer to things. In fact just grab existing words and throw them in a new context without any explanation ever. Does it sound potentially stupid? Even better.
- 10.Series lengthTrilogy? Probably a trilogy. You'll also probably map out the relationship of your protagonist better than the actual dystopia portion of the story. Who even needs a satisfying ending?
- 11.Optional: Movie deal!Make it movie adaptable. Don't bother trying to use the written medium in any unique way because that isn't fun.
- 12.And that's it!Congrats my friend, you've got an average bare minimum YA dystopia.