Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

How to Create Your Own Dystopia

  1.  Mess with time to generate a feeling of anxiety, guilt and purposelessness.
  2.  Rework a war-ravaged city into a fantasy version of itself, but with more poverty.
  3.  Create a protagonist who only wants the simple things in life, but who is incapable of reaching them.
  4.  Whisk your protagonist away to a clean or peaceful environment that is not what it seems to be.
  5.  Have your protagonist unwittingly take part in oppression of innocents or cannibalism.
  6.  Have a brief window of optimism when your protagonist seems to be able to sustain a meaningful relationship, despite the bleak setting.
  7.  Shatter this optimism with a close look at human nature and allow horror to surface, for a brief moment.
  8.  Dull and flatten the end of your work with a bland sense of inevitability and futility.

That ought to do it.

Don’t think I’ll bother.

I’m thinking….. chick-lit?



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5 thoughts on “How to Create Your Own Dystopia

  1. That was a little dark all the way down the list, where is the wee scoop of lightness? Chick-lit can be dark as well, sometimes, reading it or writing it. I don’t think that I know how to do dark, I should try to work on it to expand my horizons. Were you dissecting your novel? I am still plugging away, I don’t want to leave France though I know that I should because the action is really going to happen in N.Y. I’ll get my girl over the ocean eventually. The discipline necessary to write a book is not exaggerated.

  2. theotheri on said:

    Well, this might be the contrarian in me but I think it has possibilities. After all, you certainly begin with a feeling of potential purposelessness that has characterized thinking human beings for as far back as we can see. The challenge of life, as I see it, is to live (and I mean live in a dynamic sense, not merely survive) in the face of this possibility of meaninglessness.

    For a first novel, though, it might not be necessary to take your protagonist through quite so many changes. How about beginning with a short story in which the protagonist faces this challenge in a single event lasting no more than a week? maybe not even more than a night? I know I can dig up a few events like that out of my own life — some reflecting success, some, alas, mere learning experiences for what not to do the next time.

    Thank you for sharing. Not being a novelist – only a reader of novels – I find watching the process from your side of the fence to be an intriguing revelation.

    • I’m tempted to do a bit of a short story. But because it is such a identifiable genre, everything feels a bit derivative.
      Very tempted to re-read “the time machine” but I am reading “Lanark” and I may be some time…

  3. Look around. We’re there, already.

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