Writing About Dystopia
‘‘Imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever.’ – George Orwell, 1984
Concept: A general guide on writing dystopic CYOA
Context: Is this a story about a country, a political context? A family? An organisation that operates on fear? Does religion play a part? Or is there no more faith at all apart from the unnatural worship of the world monopoly? Is it set in the future? Past? Based on real situations? Fictional? Sci-Fi? Dystopia?
Setting: A strong sense of place is important. Where are we? When? What is the physical setting like? All these things can support the sense of the way power operates.
Central character/s: Have at least one character through whom we are shown how this society operates, and who attempts to resist - there must be an action and a reaction. Something must shift. There is no point in viewing the world through the eyes of someone who is ignorant of the society.
Point of view: Who is narrating the story? Whose point of view are we seeing things from? What person are they speaking in? First person? Third person? Even second person, though this is hard to maintain. Limited third person works extremely well when your story is based on fear.
Plot: Shape the story carefully so that the reader is clear what the consequences of rebellion will be, and from this, suspense is created - what will happen to this person? What are the consequences?
Language: Choose each word with care. Consider use of techniques such as those of Orwell - metaphors, similes, repetition, emotive language, paradox, irony and so on. Show, don't tell. For example, instead of stating the people's hunger, describe it. The sick elderly and children, the ones cast out of society sitting in their own faecal matter outside the city gates waiting for death to take them. Their throats unbearably parched whilst slime dribbles out of their orifices. Each breath a rasping whisper of death itself.
Dialogue: Long passages of description without dialogue can make your story monotonous. Make it realistic - as people speak. Use it to distinguish characters from each other through characterisation, what quirks and habits do each of the characters possess?