Blueprint to Write a Hit YA Dystopic Novel
I’m a massive fan of The Hunger Games. But let’s face it, the success of that one series of books has resulted in a slew of dystopic novels hitting bookstores. Plenty of them are enjoyable reads. But for all of the good ones out there, there are plenty more that you know they only released to try and get in on Suzanne Collins’ success. What’s more, they all seem to have a few notable similarities… So, without further ado, here is the Official IGP blueprint for writing a hit YA dystopic novel.
1. Make it a trilogy…. at least. If one book can be successful, a series of books will be even more successful, right? Don’t worry if you only have enough plot for one book. There are plenty of ways you can overly complicate the story, which brings me onto suggestion number two…
2. Have a love triangle. This is a surefire way to complicate the story. Should your strong, single-minded heroine go after the sweet guy she has known for years? Or the dark, dangerous guy who can introduce her to new experiences?
3. Pick an oppression. What makes this a dystopic world? Are there no more books? Are we being forced into tribes based on our abilities? Is society choosing our mates for us? Don’t worry about wondering how a society got the way it did. Chances are, your heroine’s grandparents wouldn’t even be able to recall life before dystopia (See number 7). Also, don’t forget to make your oppressive government really, really mean. Think “kick-a-puppy” variety.
4. Choose a message. All dystopic YA novels have a message. Censorship is bad. Be true to yourself and always question the way things are done. Separating people into castes is bad. You get the picture.
5. Emotions are bad and should be controlled. Sometimes the government will even control emotions using a drug. The point being that our heroine won’t be able to connect to her own emotions…until she falls in love.
6. The past is a closely guarded secret. Usually no one in the society, save for a few people in the government, know of life before dystopia set in. Ignorance is easier to control.
7. Kooky name. Seriously, the kookier the better. Or a weird nickname. Peeta. Cassia. Tris. You get the idea.
8. Include an important ceremony, say when the character turns 16 or 18, or some other significant age. This might be the age the character chooses their own name, or their job, or what caste they want to live in.
And remember, just because it takes place in a post-apocalyptic landscape, does NOT automatically make it dystopic.