1. Nymira
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    Nymira New Member

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    Creating a dystopia: separating society

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Nymira, Dec 11, 2015.

    I'm outlining a dystopia that I wish to write, and I'm having problems on figuring out how I want to separate society. I've been doing research on the genre (despite it being one of my favourites) and I still have zero clue on how to do it.

    I would like it to have a Hunger Games/Divergent feel, but I don't want to outright copy them either. At first I thought, "Sectors!" But based on what, my mind is blank. Then I thought maybe something to do with mental illness? But I still draw a blank. Anyone have any ideas?
     
  2. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I recently just saw the second movie to the Hunger Games movie. If you are a fan of the book I do have a question to ask you. Are the movies faithful to the books?

    Okay, personally going by the movie, I did not find the Hunger Games a very interesting premise for a Dystopia. Not to say it was bad. I just think it missed some core concepts.

    Also Sectors being split into specific concepts seems very gimmicky. I mean. I am not sure where you live, but I am in the USA. Some states(a state is pretty much a sector) pride themselves on something, but no state is exclusively about a gimmick. States that border an ocean may have a much higher market in fishing than other states but that doesn't mean they are "the fishing sector" exclusively.

    Personally. I wouldn't worry about gimmicks or culture for all sectors. Take the one you are really going to dive into and flesh that one out. That is all you really need. You may have characters from others visit or your characters may visit others and fleshing them out as needed would be useful The point being you don't need 13+ fully fleshed out sectors before you start writing.

    If you really want to sell the concept of a dystopia I think what you really need to is to establish the reason for a separation in class. That is the selling point to me. Take two movies, which on the surface may not sound like Dystopias, and the movies really may not be your favorites or perfect examples, all the same they really to me capture that sense of realism. That this concept really could exist and do damage.

    1. V for Vendetta, which if you are not familiar, is a comic book movie about a villian-ish hero that raises against the government. The reason I say this is Dystopian is because well the government is extremely bigoted and uses that as a means of having power. It is a place were the act of owning a bible is a crime worth being put to death for. That is a Dystopia to me and I can see it actually existing. Heck! There are places it probably does exist in the real world.

    2. Demolishion man(Pretty sure I spelled that wrong.) Again, an action movie, this one part comedy and a B movie at that. So it may on the surface sound like a bad example. But it is a world where it is illegal to kiss someone. All because one rightous butthead thinks he knows better and I can believe that.

    As I stated, obviously I don't think either movie is something you want to model your story around. Though, I do recommend both because they both captured the concept of a villain done right. At least at the core. Both villains were to me real people that had made the world worse based on extreme desires.

    In your world there is a separation in social class. You are going to gain a lot more from having a villain(or situation. Villain can be a situation, which is partially true in the above movies actually.) I can believe and hate then believe created this hellish world than you are from having neat gimmicks for sectors. Or at least, that is what I think.

    Hope it helps. :)
     
  3. Nymira
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    Nymira New Member

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    Movies really never are faithful to the books, but regardless, I always find books to be better. The Hunger Games is no exception :p

    As far as my own story is concerned, I only planned on having maybe 5 caste levels, less if need be, all based on maybe one concept. For instance, a friend of mine suggested something based on how dangerous a person is. I like that, but the more I think about it, the less likely it would happen, if this dystopia came to be.

    I thought, "Well, lots of people think that crime and mental illness coincide, even though they don't." But again, the more I think about it, the less I can come up with some sort of separation that makes sense from this.

    I just want to have a skeleton of sorts before I dive in so I at least know what the heck I'm writing about. Other than the usual 'the world seems all good and perfect until some people realise they're being screwed over by the government or a business, then rebel', I still haven't gotten an exact plot figured out. I'm not even sure about my MC, whom I've noted to be maybe 16 - I'm thinking of ageing her, since Katniss and Tris from the two book series/movies I mentioned are both in their mid teens. It's not that I have something against teenagers doing something for the greater good of their people, but it's become a cliché of dystopian fiction lately.
     
  4. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, there is not being faithful and really not being faith. Example. In the Mortal Kombat movie. Sub-zero worked for the bad guys in spite of the games he was part of the good guys. Because his concept was retooled for that purpose in the movie.

    I was asking if the Hunger Games movie was that bad in its faithfulness.

    I am not familiar at all with the Dilvergent? But here is the thing. I think you are thinking about this the wrong way.


    You seem to be trying to figure out a gimmick, a random thing you have that sets you apart. And while I did sort of enjoy the core concept of Hunger Games I think the movie was sort of bad for relaying way to much on a gimmick.

    Let me explain the difference. V for Vendetta was about a man that became the leader through fear and misdirection. Once he was in charge though, he had people killed for things he thought was bad. Such as being gay. He thinks it is a sin, so he thinks a gay person existing is bad and as such he wanted them dead. This is a premise. The premise is a bigot leading a nation unrivaled and it is a scary premise at that.

    Demonlishion Man is very similar, except replace bigot with over playing politeness to the point of it being illegal to curse.

    It is funny because they sound like gimmicks don't they? A bigot in charge is pretty much the plot of both. Yet both have a point. In the first case being how harsh the world can be when you let a bigot lead, in the second being how politically correct can come at a loss of freedom.

    Compare this to the Hunger Games. Granted I have only seen the first two movies, but the Hunger Games feels pointless. People are put in an area to kill each other. Why? To snuff out hope? But hope is exactly what it inspires. People rebel because it was bad. The motivation of the bad guy seems to be to inspire a revolution so that there is a plot. At least as far as I can tell.

    And I over think this stuff. lol.

    So my question, is less how the world is shit and why is it shit. Why is a dystopia? In my two examples(movies I do highly recommend you check out for your research of ideas.) they both became shit in the prescense of war kind of. In the first case it was literal war and in the fear a bigot got to the seat of power. In the second case it was a war on crime that was solved by poltical correctness.

    This is again something I can't really give to Hunger Games. The reason seemed to be similar out of war they used it as a means of reminding them how much worse things could be. Yet, by continuing it for 74+ years the end up turning that into a reason to once again rebel instead of stopping a rebellion. If they had on that day said "Presendent snow has announced that the trial of the hunger games has ended. We believe you have learned your lesson and we are bestwing upon you are great generesity at allowing these games to finally end. So now on every anniversary of the hungry games let us celebrate how far we have grown with a party that the capital will provide." The main hero, while still living in bad conditions would not have rebelled. THe capital would have lost barely nothing and the rebellion would have never started. Because none of the districts(while still living in shitty conditions) would have wanted to risk things getting worse.

    Sorry, I don't mean to rip on something you like. Just, that aspect of the movies really failed to me. Which is why I was askingif the books did it better.
     
  5. Nymira
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    Nymira New Member

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    The point of The Hunger Games (the actual games, I mean) is actually as punishment for the first failed rebellion, after which District 13 actually went underground, though the remaining twelve were told by the Capitol they had been destroyed. So basically, the twelve other districts were being punished for what 13 did, while 13 went into hiding. Pretty much, the Games were a way of forcing the districts into submission.

    In Divergent, society is split into 5 factions: Dauntless, Abnegation, Candor, Erudite, and Amity. Erudite, which is the "intelligent" faction, has a leader who is working with the Dauntless leader (the soldiers) to create a serum to inject into the Dauntless to make them "mindless", who are planning an attack against Abnegation (the selfless), because the Erudite want to control all the factions. When kids turn 16, they take an aptitude test to see which faction they would best be in, then they choose their faction. They can either stay in the one they were born in or go to another. When someone gets more than one faction in their aptitude test, they are "Divergent", which they believe are dangerous. It's later found out that the Divergent are the ones who are supposed to get society back to where they should be, but Erudite leaders try to keep that quiet. Tris is former Abnegation, now Dauntless, and she and Four work together to inform people of what their leaders are doing while trying to hide the fact they are both Divergent, otherwise they will be killed by Erudite.

    I'm not trying to base my story around a "gimmick" as you called it (personally I don't see it in either of these, but to each their own o.o maybe if you could explain exactly what you mean?), but I would like to include a current issue that is going on, that if exacerbated, could lead to a totalitarian rule. I like the idea of separating society based on something, because the government/corporate business (I still haven't decided which I want to use) wants an easy way to keep the people "in check". Problem is, I don't know how to do that so it makes sense and isn't a copy of an existing story.

    I've been wanting to watch V for Vendetta for a long while, but it isn't on Netflix and I don't have the money to rent it :(
     
  6. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, sorry if I sound harsh, but let me try and explain. For one, to be clear, even with this I don't mean it is bad material. Let me try and bring up the point in a little more clarity.

    What you said is what the Hunger Games is meant to be but there is no real reason for it to be that why. Like I said, if they had stopped being so mean(executing fashion designers and old men for practically nothing.) Then the revolutions they seem to building to would have not have happened the way it does. In a sense, the bad guys are stupid which to me is boring. The real solution is simple.

    Let me take the Demolishion Man reference. Which is indeed in the same core premise you mentioned being in common to a lot of these stories.(Again the movie is not one I bet you will like) but the solution is not as easy. Spoilers. The guy has his peaceful society, but the rebels are not willing to yield and would rather die. So the bad guy recruits someone to try and kill them. See, this is the failure of the bad guy. He hires someone stronger than himself which ends up destroying his own society, yet since he needed that person to finish off the rebels, it was a needed risk. I can understand why he did that, even if I don't agree.

    I don't understand why the Hunger Games exist or how Katnis is inspiring the people or how the government is failing to deal with her. So it isn't that I don't like it(not to say I do like it) but that it doesn't matter if I like or don't like it, if I can't understand it. If I am to be completely honest. It feels like shock and awe. Like "Look! How bad is that! Humans killing humans in a game! How Horrible!" Which it fails to me. I have seen way worse things. So in shock in awe it fails. The premise doesn't make sense to me. Again, not trying to talk too poorly about the movie. I can understand how Katnis is a character people can like and that is a fine quality to like.

    Does this explain why I think Hunger Games is a gimmick?

    So, at the end of the day, most stories have been done in some degree. I mean, if I stop and think about it. I think I even can remember a movie like Hunger Games from a few decades ago. Can't remember the name. It isn't about that though. It isn't good to limit yourself by what others have done. If you want a dystopia. Write a dystopia. Yes, you don't want to copy people but the reverse is true too, you don't want to avoid everything other people do. In a sense it is about what you bring new to the concept.

    I haven't wrote it yet, but I have a dystopian idea. The premise is actually war. A world war. Magic has hit the world and half of the world can now cast magic. So the world is fighting over how to deal with magic. A world war. The story is about a man, about age 25 trying to survive with his wife. He has nothing, no magic, no money for better technology. His wife is sick. People trying to steal the little he has. Now the set up(which I think is the key set up to a dystopia) is war.

    Now lets think about war. Is it understandible? People being born with mutant power like magic? Magical people wanting to live but normal people wanting to not be at the mercy of magic? Yeah, these are both understandiable. Heck X-Men is a franchise that thrives on the concept of that war without it even ever happening.

    Funny enough, in my story, the man doesn't change the war. That isn't the point. No moment of turning the war in his favor. No inspiration or grand moment. He fights, as many do, but he doesn't end the war. This book isn't even going to show the end of the war. Just him surviving the harshest part of it.

    Because the point of my story is a bad situation and him surviving it and giving it his all to survive.

    Does that make sense?

    Sorry if I am sounding negative. Any other questions?

    If you want ideas, again I think it goes back to the core premise of why is the world bad? Like you said what if a political concept is taken to an extreme and the world goes to hell because of it? Most importantly, how does tht political concept going out of control cause the world to be crappy. And why does it motivate the bad guys to do what they do?

    I hope it helps. :)
     
  7. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd recommend reading these summaries on Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish and Karl Marx's theory of alienation.
     
  8. Nymira
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    Nymira New Member

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    Not particularly, the way I see it, writers write because they want their stories read. Suzanne Collins wrote The Hunger Games because it is her imagination, and she wanted to share that with others. So basically, every story is a "gimmick". That's why I'm confused as to what you mean by that. Unless you're meaning President Snow's reason for keeping the Hunger Games going is for him to get attention? The thing is though, if Snow and his lackeys hadn't been what they were, there would have been no story to tell.

    I'm certainly not saying you have to like it, I have no issue with you liking it or not, like I said to each their own. I'm just a bit confused with what you call a gimmick lol.

    Your idea doesn't strike me as a dystopia, more of a fantasy. I love fantasy, and I think it's a good one, but the point of dystopia is not war; it's a seemingly perfect world that isn't so perfect because higher ups are controlling the general population.

    @Ben414 Thank you, I will take a look at those :)
     
  9. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Let me try and explain in a bit more detail. My use of "premise" and "gimmick" is a bit more my own. So let me define them.

    But before that. Correct me if I am wrong, but Dystopia is the reverse of Utopia, which is an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.

    So a Dystopia is an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.

    Yes google dictionary for the win! :D.

    So a war, a place where everyone is constantly killing each other and trying to steal from you and you have nothing to help you survive this hellish like war. While taking care of a sick wife? I think that counts as Dystopia.

    But then again we all sort of form mental defintions of words.

    For the sake of clarity I am looking up gimmick and premise to see how far I have distorted them for my purpose.

    Gimmick is a trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or business.

    Premise is a previous statement or proposition from which another is inferred or follows as a conclusion.

    Yeah actually I think my definition is pretty close.

    I am saying that the statement of the Hunger Games and what Snow does is a Gimmick because it does not make sense or is a trick.

    I am saying V for Vendetta is a premise because the statement does make sense and it is not a trick.

    You are right. If Snow doesn't do something, then there is no story. Fair enough, but I am saying the story isn't as good because the statement is a bad and not a valid premise but a trick or gimmick.

    Good writing is for the plot concept to be valid. But I am basing this on the movies.
     
  10. Nymira
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    Nymira New Member

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    You can't really base things on the movies, because they don't give a clear picture on why the Games came to be. The books give that information. This is why I always read books prior to watching their movie counterparts, so that I get a clearer picture on why the world is as it is, and why the characters are who they are.

    I'm still outlining details, but as far as my own goes, I've come up with something basic:

    I am a huge science lover, so I'm thinking a science corporation will be in charge (sort of like Resident Evil, where Umbrella Corp was in charge). The citizens will be separated into three sectors:

    - Regulars: Normal, everyday people like you and me (civilians)
    - Unusuals: People who've been experimented on, and now have some sort of superhuman ability. Maybe super strength, the ability to levitate, mind reading (soldiers)
    - (I haven't come up with a name for these yet. If you have any ideas, I'd be happy to hear) Then there's the group of failed experiments, who are now considered less than human; some may even have some sort of deformation or mental retardation now.

    My MC is an Unusual, who one day accidentally finds out about the horrible living conditions the failed experiments are in. She speaks out to the government, but the government is in this corporation's hands, so they try everything to silence her. She goes on the run and attempts to find people like her, who want to help the FE.
     
  11. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hey. I can too! A movie takes what, a year to make? Millions of dollars. If they can't get such a minor detail as the basic premise of the book into it then they suck. So I can say the movie was bad. But my first question for you was if the movie was a faithfully adaptation. If the movie failed but the book worked you are welcomed to share how. I would be happy to hear.

    Then again, this isn't a debate on the Hunger Games. It was more just general advice to a Dystopia. The science lover and mutated humans(sorry I suck at names.) I have nothing against those concepts but it does go back t everything I was saying before or trying to, I think the story of how these conditions(a science government) came to be and why they are experimenting on people? Because what they do is meaningless if they don't have a valid reason. Though, I have a suggestion for you. Which is that human life began to be treated like life stock. That humans classes are farmed just to be expeiremented on. If that helps. :)
     
  12. Nymira
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    Nymira New Member

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    I say you can't, because despite spending millions, they never fail to miss very important details that books have. It's different if it's not from a book, but when it is, they fail the books miserably >_<

    That's one of the details I'm in the process of working out, lol. To research! I still need a name for the failed experiments though. I guess that will come later xD
     
  13. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can help but sing the praises of V for Vendetta again here. This shouldn't spoil anything, but V for Vendetta is based on a comic book. When writing the movie, they realized that to transfer the story it would take 3 movies. But they didn't want too. So they changed things, including characters. Completely different from the original material. Here is the thing, they changed things to fit the format of the movie. They took the core of the story and said. "How can we change this in a way to represent the core in 1 movie" and they did it. Movie markers should study V for Vendetta as far as I am concerned.

    When I first saw the first Hunger Games movie. I suspected they didn't change enough to fit the format. In either case I suspected that the problems with the main bad guy was in the book.

    Good luck on your brainstorming. :)
     
  14. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    Dystopia is largely subjective, and really depends on the viewpoint of the characters. A wealthy upper-class citizen may view a capitalist society as a perfect utopia, while a person living in a ghetto may view it as a corrupted system. It's important to not create a contrived dystopian scenario, as that would detract from the overall believability of the plot.

    As for the seperation theme, you could do it on the potential societal effects of genetic engineering and human-machine interfaces. For example : Commerical transhumanism becomes a growing industry as genetic and mechanical body modifications become widespread. The gap between the social classes widens as the upper-class is able to afford physical and mental augmentations that allow them to rise far above the natural state of humanity. The government is reduced to a corporate figurehead. The working class is taken by machines, leaving a large percentage of the population without jobs.

    Introduce a sense of moral ambiguity. Maybe the upper-class is truly creating a better society and everyone else is simply resisting it. Maybe the technological singularity is the next step in human evolution and could lead to a society free of crime and poverty. etc., etc.

    A sci-fi story doesn't need characters with fancy powers and secret backstories to be interesting. If it connects with the reader and introduces a ethical/political/philosphical/etc. dilemma that the reader will want to think about and deconstruct, they will become invested in the story.
     
  15. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    I'd start with looking into basics with social contract theory, but just stay away from Hobbes... Also, for simplicity's sake you also probably want to avoid Kant.
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Look how much stuff about your dystopia you've written in this thread @Nymira. Stop thinking and start writing. Spill it out, let it flow. What is the story you want to write? It doesn't have to come out of your brain in perfect form. Get it on the page then go back and fix it.
     

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