Did you know there was more to dystopian fiction writing than The Hunger Games?
Shocking concept? It’s okay. The feeling of total disorientation will fade, and your vision will return. Eventually.
When it does, take careful note of our Writing Challenge of the Week below.
Get The Hunger Games out of your head.
There’s a YouTube channel that picks apart popular movies, pointing out their flaws in highly amusing ways.
Its mockery of Divergent, for example, is that it looks a whole lot like The Hunger Games. While I never read or watched Divergent, I will say that The Hunger Games sent the dystopian genre into hyperdrive. Which is great since such stories hold so much potential!
Keep that potential in mind if you want to create dystopian fiction. Don’t just write Hunger Games 2.0.
While the larger idea of a tyrannical government dictating your life from start to finish is a key concept for dystopian fiction writing to explore, it’s hardly a limiting theme.
Look around the world we live in today. What are the issues we’re supposed to be concerned with? And, no matter which side you fall on the debate, how can that concern be taken way too far?
Population Control – In 2012, a movie debuted called The Thinning about how, “In the near future, the world’s resources have been severely depleted due to overpopulation,” as the opening shots reveal. As a result, the U.N. – which has apparently gotten way too big for its britches – “requires all countries to cut their populations by 5% annually.” Each nation has a different way of handling that global edict, with America making its kids take a test every year. Those deemed intellectually deficient? They're executed. Sound harsh? It is. But that’s the way dystopian fiction writing rolls.
Parental Responsibility vs. State Responsibility – Look no further than Aldous Huxley’s classic Brave New World, where parents are no longer in the government-run picture. Neither is love. And freedom of individuality is highly discouraged as “savage” behavior. So is a consequence-less society a good thing or a bad thing? Huxley definitely didn’t think it worthwhile.
Crime Levels – Murder. Assault. Criminal neglect. Theft. Breaking and entering... It would be so nice if we could stop hurting each other and just get along already. Yet what price is society willing to pay to make that happen? And what would the consequences be? This is something The Purge movies already explored, for example, where the American government has successfully cracked down on crime by instituting one night a year where people can do whatever they want to each other, purging their not-so-nice sides so they can hold it together and play nice the other 364 trips around the sun.
If you noticed a distinct anti-big-government theme in the examples above, that’s not Innovative Editing projecting its own feelings onto the genre. It is the genre. Somehow, someway, it’s going to be about what happens when a government takes too much control.
Maybe it thinks it has good reason to take too much control. Maybe it doesn't see any other way. But the consequences are drastically negative regardless.
So if you want to get your dystopian fiction writing on, just ask yourself two questions…
What’s your hot topic issue?
And how can the government screw it up?
There are so many dystopian fiction writing ways to work with from there – that don’t look like The Hunger Games.