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Science Fiction > Dystopian Back History

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message 1: by Leo (new)

Leo (LiteraryAce6661) | 7 comments I keep changing the back history to my story because I am just not please with it. I recently came up with this outrageous idea that involved a civil war starting because of racism and immigrants in the country which would involve a lot of issues going on in the United States today. Though that is what I was looking for at the time I now realize how crazy and extreme the idea is to write about, especially for a teen fiction novel.

I had another idea before that crazy one. That the country is over populated and the government issued a secret plan to lower the population, an act of genocide. My question for you guys is would you think this would be a better plan verses the race and immagrational issues? I honestly think so, though I had a few problems on how the government would pick their subjects. I thought they'd get rid or the old, sick, mentally ill and criminals first. But that is the main reason why I dropped this original plot idea in the first place I just couldn't think of people to kill off.

I have a weapon, I have antagonists, I know how the victims will be affected, I just don't know how to /pick/ the victims.

Can anyone help me with this please?


message 2: by Lance (last edited May 04, 2015 03:01PM) (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 326 comments All dystopias are political and, to a lesser extent, economic. You need to figure out who's in power, how they got there, and their ideology before you can dive into the micro issues. Knowing these things will also color how the rest of your story world works: what the surroundings look like, how normal people dress and act, what level of technology the society has, and a host of other issues you'll need for your world-building.

Don't even think hard about your main problem yet. Answer these questions first:

1) Who has which levers of power in the country? Is it a unified government, or are there factions? Does the government even control anything?
2) What controls the dominant faction (if there are factions) or holds the chief executive role (if not)?
3) What's the ideology or political mindset of the dominant faction/chief executive? What does it believe? What does it reject?
4) Who supports the dominant faction/chief executive, and why? Even dictators have followers and fans.
5) Who opposes the dominant faction/chief executive, and why?
6) Unless you posit a coup, these people came to power in some legal or semi-legal manner. How did that happen?
7) What economic system does the faction in power believe in? How is the economy structured? A totalitarian state may promote using opponents as slave labor, while laissez-faire corporatism may cede all economic power to major corporations.

Believe it or not, all this background will tell you what your government is likely to do, who it will target, and what your rebel underground will look like and how it can strike back.


message 3: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel Boutros | 115 comments Hey Leo. For dystopian fiction always start with a real, presently existing problem, and then you take it to logical extremes. This makes the story resonate more with readers, who will look at it as a warning about where the human race may be headed. Racism is a very real problem today. There are also many groups that are anti-government, or who feel the present government doesn't really represent them. So the extremes of both problems are realistic enough to lead to the first back story that you suggested.
As for the second idea, the genocide, this is also very interesting but I personally don't see it as something that our world is realistically headed towards. Of course, you might be able to find a group that's already on the fringes of society and simply extrapolate from that a scenario where they will eventually be killed off. But between your two ideas I think this is the one that's most "crazy," although that's just one person's opinion. Either way, considering the popularity of dystopian fiction among teens, and how grim some of the stories are, I don't think you have to worry about your YA novel being too extreme for your readers.
Best of luck whatever you decide.


message 4: by Dennis (new)

Dennis Kitainik I'd say both these ideas are completely unrealistic: the issues with racism and immigration would logically lead to mass deportations, not a civil war; and as for the "lowering the population" deal, first of all, we DON'T have an overpopulation problem in our country, but an overcrowding problem in a few parts of it, and second of all, it would be IMPOSSIBLE to prepare and implement such a program in secret without it leaking out prematurely and leading to its planners being hanged! Hell, this second idea is nothing more than a remake of the old "Operation Rex-84" conspiracy theory which turned out to be all a lie! But as far as ideas are concerned, (surprise, surprise!), the only halfway-plausible idea along these lines would be a HYBRID of these two ideas: namely, a secret government program to commit genocide, which leaks out and causes a civil war! (Not that this would be very realistic, either -- in a democracy such as the USA, those who plan such a monstrous scheme would never rise to power in the first place!)


message 5: by Leo (new)

Leo (LiteraryAce6661) | 7 comments Lance wrote: "All dystopias are political and, to a lesser extent, economic. You need to figure out who's in power, how they got there, and their ideology before you can dive into the micro issues. Knowing these..."

I've actually done a lot of that already to be honest. I've looked up a lot world (and character) building questions that cover most of all you've mentioned and quite a bit more. The only questions I haven't fully answered is why for 4 and 5 and number 7. I will add those to my list. thank you! :)


message 6: by Leo (new)

Leo (LiteraryAce6661) | 7 comments Dennis wrote: "I'd say both these ideas are completely unrealistic: the issues with racism and immigration would logically lead to mass deportations, not a civil war; and as for the "lowering the population" deal..."

I honestly never thought about combining both plots like that. I will take your advice into consideration though and definitely think about it as I see it as a logical idea and possibility. Thank you so much! (:


message 7: by Leo (new)

Leo (LiteraryAce6661) | 7 comments Gabriel wrote: "Hey Leo. For dystopian fiction always start with a real, presently existing problem, and then you take it to logical extremes. This makes the story resonate more with readers, who will look at it a..."

You are the second person to tell me to go with the 'crazy' idea! To be honest all the reactions I got about the plot idea on Wattpad made me shy away from it. It made feel like I was racist or something. One person said that if I write it another Hitler would evolve. Though I believe that is a little extreme for theme to say, I kind of got the message. /:

Most people say go with the original and not crazy plot. I've also had three people say screw what people say and write what I want because fiction is fiction and they don't have to read it. But I kind of do want people to read it.

I'll just have to keep working on the plot I guess.

Thank you for your words! :)


message 8: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 326 comments "Crazy" is relative. As long as your world makes sense and the things people do are understandable reactions to that world, you should be okay.

After all, your ideas aren't any weirder than the ones in Maze Runner or Divergent.


message 9: by Leo (new)

Leo (LiteraryAce6661) | 7 comments Lance wrote: ""Crazy" is relative. As long as your world makes sense and the things people do are understandable reactions to that world, you should be okay.

After all, your ideas aren't any weirder than the on..."


Tha is what my beta reader has been telling me and I agree. I think it's just harder for some people to realize it is based in a fictionalized future even though it takes some elements from our current issues as a back history.

Thank you very much for all your advice!


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