How to Write a Dystopian Novel

It has come to my attention that a humor column is not complete without a how-to article. Hence, I have selected a very important topic to write about: dystopian novels. By the time you are finished reading this, you will make George Orwell look like a middle schooler.

Dystopian novels are all the rage now, and especially captivate younger generations. That’s why you always need the protagonist to be a teenager.

So we’ve set down the first point:

  1. The protagonist is a teenager

The second point is that you, as the author, must stress that the setting is clearly dystopian, so use dystopian adjectives. Do you think Orwell used words like “copacetic” and “convivial?”

        2. The setting must be clearly dystopian

The third point is that there must be a moral dilemma. The protagonist must be confronted with a tough choice which corresponds to the plot and setting of the novel. You should be quite frank in stating the character’s dilemma.

        3. There MUST be a moral dilemma

Furthermore, the ending cannot be any better than the beginning. This is what defines dystopian novels… the situation doesn’t get any better in the end.

        4. By the end of the novel, you should be back to square one

You should also include a moral or two, because there should always be a lesson for teenagers to learn.

        5. Include a moral

There must be a lot of really advanced tech to “wow” your audience. This is exactly what teenagers are hungry for when they read your book.

        6. Include advanced technology

Because all you poor souls are new to this advanced style of writing, I shall provide a few examples of my own experience with such things:

It was still dark that morning, when Aaron Shapiro, an eighth grader, got up for his 5 AM class. It was a very hard class to get through, involving several facedesks when he fell asleep. He was studying trigonometry… the driest subject in–

Wait a second. This is actually a description of my average day from last school year. Technically it does match almost all the characteristics of a dystopian novel (the moral dilemma was whether or not it’s okay to sleep through class). However, I think I should present a clearer outline for the story:


by Aaron Shapiro

It was the dystopian hour of noon in the year 2561, when Joseph Broseph, an average homeschooler, got out of his hi-tech dystopian bed at an unusually early hour, to attend his hi-tech holographic dystopian online class (in GP825), wearing his dystopian pajamas (which, as a dystopian homeschooler, was pretty much the only thing he wore). He had a moral dilemma.

The reason his class was so dystopian was because it was holographic, and his teacher could see EVERYTHING he did… hence, he couldn’t not pay attention in class.

Today, Joseph was studying history–specifically the ancient days of GP5, GP6 and GP7. Ah, the days of freedom, when you could do whatever you want.

Moral of the story:

To all you fellow TPSers, beware the tyranny of the coming GP7. Before you know it, school will have complete control over your life.


When the teacher wasn’t looking, Joseph would research how to hack the system. And today happened to be his lucky day. He had found a flaw in the GatherPlace programming, exploited it, and suddenly the entire class shut down. He laughed maniacally… he had singlehandedly destroyed all TPS online classes throughout the world.

Five years later, Joseph Broseph was a professional hacker and lived a life free of restrictions, surrounded by computers in a dark, dystopian basement, hacking away at whatever he wanted.

Suddenly, there was a hard knock on the door, and Joseph heard a voice yell, “This is the FBI, open up!”

He hesitated, and the door came crashing down. He was immediately arrested by the dystopian authorities (for hacking literally everything in the world) and taken to a dystopian prison.


Second moral of the story:

Don’t hack GP7 because you’ll probably be arrested by the FBI five years later.

Third moral of the story:

Because we are going back to square one, it stands to reason that prison is the equivalent of school.

And there you have it folks. You’re practically pros now.


  1. This is great xD

  2. LOL! I love this. Thank you, @Aaron!

  3. Hahahaha, thanks for teaching us, now I have mastered the skill of writing a dystopian novel *nods*

  4. 10/10, the most doubleplusgood dystopian novel I’ve ever read.

  5. You got the definition down pat. *is reminded why she never reads dystopian novels*

  6. GP825? that’s a good one.

  7. A friend and I are actually writing a dystopian novel right now. Thank you for the tips! I’m a pro now. XD

  8. Absolutely the best novel I’ve ever read! xD

  9. Aaron, this is just amazing!!! I’m going to go write a dystopian novel now, and I’ll be sure to include all of your tips xD

  10. Thank you for the advice, Aaron.

  11. Beren Erchamion

    lol this is great

  12. Lilly sat at her dystopian computer. She wrote on a high-tech dystopian keyboard about how this dystopian how-to changed her whole dystopian life.)) This was super funny! Great Job!

  13. XD I love it! (Don’t forget to mention the high-tech stuff needs to go totally unexplained and unused by the protagonist because it’s the stuff the evil guys use…XD)

  14. Great job, Aaron!