Last time, I spoke about the apparent (maybe) decline in the Young Adult portion of the Dystopian genre. One of the points I touched on was the teen-viewed writings featured by Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth. If you love dystopia and haven't read either of these authors, I highly recommend you do. You won't be disappointed.
Today I'd like to focus on several other current trends in this genre; my genre more specifically.
First off, most popular writings nowadays deal with a dark world after some type of post-apocalyptic event. In The Hunger Games we learn that some type of wrath has been bestowed upon the population by the tyrannical government. There was an "uprising" of some sort that the people needed to be protected from. More accurately, the people needed to be taught a lesson by this government – thus the need for the 75 years of the Hunger Games. Sure Big Brother, I have some land 30 miles east of downtown Milwaukee for sale too.
Thus far in Divergent, I haven't found any one event that has led the populous down the dystopian driveway they find themselves in. Perhaps it comes later in the book (I'm only 2/3 done); perhaps it follows in second or third book. It really doesn't matter to me. All I need to know is that the old world is gone, and these people live in a new, greatly changed world.
In the first two (and eventually four) novels in my WWIV series, you are never told what actually happened to our world. Oh sure, as with any event there's plenty of speculation. But never once do I actually tell the reader what really happened.
And it really doesn't matter. Why? Because my characters are far too busy trying to survive in this new world. They don't have time to worry about or try to figure out what happened. They are too busy living, eating, finding shelter – surviving. These are more stories of our humanity than tales of "look what happened to the world because people were too dumb to..." (feel free to insert your favorite cause here. Global warming? Sure, why not? Not responding to Russia's aggressive nature? Yeah, let's blame it on the Russians).
The point is this: whatever the cause of our troubles is secondary. How we (as people) will survive the impending struggles is the important part.
Hunger Games has it's varying Districts. There are five factions in Divergent. In WWIV, we have good and evil. Many goods actually; and a whole lot of evils. For instance, I have created a specific breed of trouble that will take over our highways and byways. They will go by the name of Road Bandits. In every dystopian society there will be good and bad. They may carry different names, but trust me – some are good people, and others are equally bad.
A dystopian world may have an evil oppressive government involved. That's what we have in 1984 and The Hunger Games. Or, it may lack that heavy handed element. This is what we see in Divergent and my WWIV series. People will be trying to survive. Some are seeking to rise in a world gone so mad. Others will just want to blend in as best they can and continue on with their lives, unnoticed by the surrounding world. And always at play is our humanity.
I've learned a lot in the past fifteen months. A lot about writing. A lot about dystopian writing - my genre of choice. For me, here is the bottom line. There is no one way things have to go. You have many options available. As a writer, you just need to be consistent and have your "new" world well thought through. That's what the readers want. Freshness, consistency (to your plot), and something they can see; perhaps almost feel. I'm still new at this. My goal is to make each tale better and better.
Thanks for reading this post. Might I recommend Orwell's 1984 if you've never picked it up? It's a classic dystopian tale.