Dystopias in Contemporary Literature

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What's a good dystopian plot line for a piece of contemporary fiction?

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There are two things you might do to get started.

To help you organize your essay, it may be helpful to make a little chart or list laying out the different elements of dystopian literature. List these elements in a column on the left side of the page, leaving space between each. 

For this you will take an idea like the following and shorten it:

Ideas and works about dystopian societies often explore the concept of humans abusing technology and humans individually and collectively coping, or not being able to properly cope with technology that has progressed far more rapidly than humanity's spiritual evolution. 

In your chart you can write something like: "Technology vs. Humanity". 

Next, you can think about the books you have read and make a column for each book. Take note of where the book matches up with the elements on your list. If you do this with two or three books, you should get a good idea of which book most clearly matches the criteria you are using to define dystopian literature. 

Once you have selected which book to write about, you can create an outline. For this type of assigment you will want to arrange your paragraphs so that each paragraph deals with another dystopian element. If you have three criteria for dystopian literature, you will have three body sections in your essay with each describing 1) the nature of the criteria and 2) how the book you are writing about fits that criteria. 

For instance, if one criteria is "dystopian literature features an isolation of man from nature" and you are writing about 1984, you will write a paragraph on the ways that people in the world of 1984are cut off from nature. You will need to cite specific examples from the text. 

Your opening paragraph should identify what book will be writing about while also identifying the topics of your body paragraphs. 

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First, essays, such as the one you are assigned to write, are not described as having "plot lines." Instead, we talk about essays as having "arguments", namely the central point that the writer attempts to prove to the reader.

The dystopian novels about which you are being asked to write do have plot lines. Typical plot lines of dystopian novels include:

- descent into dystopia (Lord of the Flies, etc.)
- recovery from dystopia (Beggars in Spain)
- escape from dystopia (Handmaid's Tale)
- outsider's perspective on dystopia (When the Sleeper Wakes)

In writing an essay about this sort of fiction, you choose one book and look at how the imagined, society, characters, plot, etc. fit the description of dystopia.

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