Maybe Genius is really hitting it out of the park today (and by “today” I mean “the day I picked to catch up on my last month of feeds”). Here’s a handy list of dystopian tropes. I’m thinking about using it to create Dystopian Bingo. Would you play with me?
A couple of favorite bits:
The key to dystopia is some element of larger societal commentary. It’s not simply a ruined futuristic world. Some people miss this key point while writing what they believe to be a dystopia. What is your dystopian world trying to say?
(Though I’d say this is maybe more a problem of subgenre semantics. Nothing wrong with a good straightforward post-apocalypse, I say.)
Totalitarian government. ‘Nuff said. You will find the presence of an oppressive, totalitarian government in nearly every dystopia you come across. This naturally makes sense, as a dystopia portrays a society we would fear, and totalitarianism is certainly something most people fear. This makes it a common trope, but not necessarily cliché. It becomes cliché when the government is a one-dimensional bad guy that just likes to torture its people. As with any villain, it should be more nuanced than that – the government leaders should genuinely believe they are doing what’s best for their people. They may believe it in an incredibly twisted way, but they believe it. There’s also the option of going against the grain and creating a dystopia based on something other than an evil, overreaching government. There are other social avenues to explore.
I would love to see a novel about a hippie-run dystopia. (Although I guess that’s every story about failed communes?)