How to write a Dystopian for an audience that’s over it

From the years 2012 to about 2018 ya dystopian fiction was a huge trend, and we all loved it. Look at your bookshelf right now and tell me you do not have at least one young adult dystopian novel. It’s probably something like the selection, the hunger games, divergent, the maze runner, legend… I know you have it!

We all loved these books, but eventually, we had enough.

But, I don’t believe that this genre is dead! In fact, I believe there is a way to revive it. Still to this day, lots of YA readers are looking for more/new dystopians. If only I had a dollar every time someone on Likewise asks for dystopian recommendations.

What is a Dystopian

Dystopians, by basic definition, are stories that deal with conflict within government. When you look up the antonym of Utopia you will likely get Dystopia. The presence of great suffering or injustice in a society, typically one that is dictatorial or post-apocalyptic.

The storylines usually follow the protagonist as they see and are affected by the corruption, and then as they stand up against it.

Don’t Segregate

Every single ya dystopian novel has people separated into some kind of group. These groups determine your place and status in the world.

I almost think that authors think that segregation is what makes a book dystopian. It does not. It’s a cliche, and I hate it. It’s very outdated. The desire to choose one’s own path in life isn’t a theme most readers are going to care about anymore. The whole “I’m being oppressed by people trying to tell me who I can be and what I must do with my life” is just another way of saying “I’m an emo teenager.”

Readers don’t want to read the same book over and over again. So give them something out of the box.

Think Outside of the Box

And with that, friends, I urge you to think outside of the box. Maybe our hero takes a while to see the corruption going on around her. OR HIM! Most protagonists in dystopian (and let’s be honest, all ya) fiction are female. Maybe the corruption is going on behind the curtain and our protagonist finds himself in the middle of it. Maybe all the characters are mermaids! Whatever twisted idea you can think of! THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!!!


Have you noticed that most characters in dystopian fiction have flat arcs? Your characters are the story. Most readers are more interested in the internal conflict than the external. Maybe the theme goes deeper than a corrupt ruler? Maybe our hero isn’t much of a hero? Maybe our hero joins the dark side? Maybe she doesn’t believe in the fight?

Check out my posts on character arcs!

The Character Arcs: Positive

The Character Arcs: Negative

What’s your favorite dystopian novel? Personally, I love the Hunger Games.

Thanks a bunch!

— Nerd

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