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16 of the Best Dystopian Writing Prompts

See our wonderful list of Dystopian Writing Prompts to ignite your next creative story — Oh yeah! This article includes some absolutely fabulous dystopian writing prompts along with some insights and suggestions about this genre.

Dystopian Writing Prompts

Our list of writing prompts is best for middle school and high school student writers and up as the writing ideas are a tad complex. Even so…

Any age writer can certainly practice dystopian writing if they so desire. Note: You may have to simplify some of these writing ideas if you use them with elementary writers.

Best of all, our list of dystopian writing prompts is a super-fun way for writers to think about the type of world they want to create and the qualities they want their characters to have. So get to it and read on to learn more. Enjoy!

What is Dystopian Writing?

Dystopian fiction is not new. 

With 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, The Handmaid’s Tale, and other classics in the genre, dystopian stories pushed novels into modern times and new directions. These books provide the perfect inspiration for dystopian fiction writing prompts.

If you are unfamiliar with this genre, we will give you some context to help you understand what it’s all about.

Dystopian Society Characteristics

The idea of a dystopia is basically the opposite of a utopia. Dystopian novels flip a “perfect society” on its head and create worlds where their characters are miserable. There is usually some core issue that causes injustice for certain groups of people.

Usually, in a dystopian society, there is some sort of totalitarian system that has strict rules and usually features a caste system. The story explores what it would be like to live in such a world, and its themes and sometimes allegories explain the problems in our real world.

Sometimes a dystopian society was brought about by the ruling class or government, but other times it is created by some sort of apocalyptic event.

Dystopian Writing Themes

There are a lot of common themes that show up in dystopian stories and in dystopian writing prompts. For one, there is the trope of “people who don’t fit in”, the targets of injustice, who usually act as the protagonists. 

One example would be Margaret Peterson Haddix’s series called The Shadow Children. In that society, people are only allowed to have 2 children, so the series focuses on families’ hidden third children. Limitations like these are sometimes caused by a scarcity of some sort of resource that the society is trying to manage.

A lot of dystopian writing prompts and stories have elements of science fiction and are very futuristic. Many of them center around the characters fighting for survival, like in The Hunger Games.

Another common theme is the idea that people get “assigned” certain things at a certain age, like special powers, their spouse, their job, or something else. This can happen at the beginning of the story to frame the character arcs of each main character.

Dystopian Plot Twists

Sometimes, in dystopian literature, the story starts in a normal setting, similar to real life. Certain plot twists begin to happen that create the dystopian setting as the story moves along. Some stories even start out as if they’re portraying a perfect world, but then you realize that something is fundamentally wrong.

There are many different types of other plot twists that can happen within the story. One common trope is when a character goes from seeking human flourishing to becoming part of the corrupted system that is in control. Another is the characters realizing that there is a world outside of their world, then struggling to break into it and fit in there.

You can think about how to integrate these themes and plot twists as you explore our list of dystopian writing prompts below!

16 of the Best Dystopian Writing Prompts to Ignite Your Next Creative Story

  1. If everyone in the world got a notification that a zombie apocalypse had begun, what would you do first?
  2. A new type of food is created that rich people are getting addicted to and it’s ruining their lives. Your character, who was not born into wealth, is given the opportunity to try it.
  3. A horrifying, deadly virus is spreading, but for some reason, it is only affecting your country, and no one else who has been exposed to it outside the country has contracted it. Will everyone move out of the country? Who gets stuck?
  4. America has come to an end – and a new nation has been constructed in its place. However, this new society is extremely prejudiced against men.
  5. Your character goes through a portal to a futuristic world where cell phones are illegal and these laws are harshly enforced. The problem is that they still have their cell phone in their pocket and can’t find a portal back.
  6. You and your best friend are survivors of a meteor crash that sent the world spinning in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, this made the earth uninhabitable for most people…but for some reason, you’re still alive. The issue is that now time is moving backward.
  7. Your day-to-day life as a teenager becomes more and more dystopian by the second and your teachers are the ones in charge of the entire world. Is there any way to change it back?
  8. Scientists develop a filter that you can use to change your perception of real life. How does it change the way people interact with each other?
    Dystopian Writing Topics for Students
  9. One woman is the last rom-com writer in the world, living in a society where romantic partnership is highly illegal. Will she find her dream partner or live a lonely existence forever?
  10. Write a short story where people with a certain hair color are considered to be of a different class and then the main character illegally dyes their hair.
  11. Write a short story about a backwards world where animals keep people in zoos.
  12. Write a bulleted list of possible features of all kinds of different settings for dystopian novels.
  13. Write a short story where artificial intelligence is used to complete EVERY job. What do people do all day?
  14. Write a dystopian story that is an allegory for something that has happened in the real world. Use it to communicate your opinions about how those issues should be solved.
  15. Journal about ways you’ve seen injustice play out in real life and what will happen if it doesn’t get fixed.
  16. Journal about some things that you’ve seen on the news or in real life that made you feel like you were living in a dystopian world.

I hope this list of dystopian writing prompts gets you and your students thinking about what dystopia means to them, and how that correlates to their experience in the real world.

Of course…

You can use these prompts as a jumping-off point to talk about subjects like injustice, human rights, and technology.

A Few Final Words about Dystopian Writing Prompts

Prompts are writing tools used to excite your imagination and jumpstart your creativity. There are various types of prompts you can use to try out all the different genres.

Whether you want to write a full novel or a daily journal post, these prompts will help you write in interesting and unique ways.

Dystopian story ideas can be tough to come up with on your own! Thankfully, free resources like this list of creative writing prompts can make it easy to start your journey of dystopian writing.

81 More Free Writing Prompts

Until the next time, write on…

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Dystopian Writing Prompt Ideas

PS – Explore these 7 Tips for Writing Dystopian Fiction

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