The Dystopian Novel: A Formula

Disclaimer: The following is a satirical post gently poking fun at the formulaic nature of dystopian novels. It is not meant as a genuine guide to writing dystopian novels.

The Dystopian novel made easy. Just follow these instructions and you will end up with a fantastic dystopian novel too!

First, you take the world:

and break it:


Once you’ve messed it up enough that the natural resources have completely depleted and danger is everywhere, find a small group of surviving mankind and place them in a controlled setting like for example:

But ensure that there is something terribly wrong with this dystopian society. For example, in the picture, the dome is cracking. In your book you could um…make love forbidden or make monkeys rule and since monkeys can’t rule very well (no offense intended), chaos would threaten which would mean that there is a necessity for heroes:

(I thought the blood was a nice addition. Makes him look very capable, doesn’t it?)

She might get cold if the dystopian world is in an icy age but it’ll keep things interesting (and tense: will the heroine die from frost bite before the final showdown with the villains? Dun dun dun…stay tuned for books five, six and seven to find out.)

Let the boy hero and girl hero fall in love. And, if there’s not much else going on and you want to up the ante, maybe add in a love triangle (always makes for more tense moment, you know, her life may be over in the next few days but will she choose JOHN or DAVID! Wait for book 9 to reveal all!):

Very importantly, you need a villain. Or two:

His pose screams villainness to me. Doesn’t it to you? Or maybe it’s his evil mustache?

Anyone who licks blood is a villain. Unless he’s a vampire. In which case he’s sexy. … Don’t ask me, kay? I didn’t make the rules.

You could throw in a few extras to make your world more unique. Like:

Teen pregnancy, enforced pregnancy in a dystopian world. Very original idea. No one’s ever done it before.

Zombies. If you use zombies, I won’t read your book but I’m sure other people will tell me how wonderful it is.

Now that you have all these elements, bring them all together. There will be war:

And your main characters will watch the world burn:

But make sure you don’t reveal who dies and who survives. You have to end the book on a cliff hanger so that people will stop breathing and (a year later) take another breath when they find out that your heroes (girl and boy) both survived. So you see, writing a dystopian novel is very simple. As long as you follow these rules. Good luck. 😉