The 10 Commandments of YA Dystopian Stories

Ever wondered what the secret (or not so secret) ingredients for YA dystopian stories are?

You’re about to find out. Because yes, there is such a thing as the 10 Commandments for YA dystopian stories.

The thou-shalt requirements every dystopian story must contain.

The unbreakable, time-honored rules of the genre.

#Probably #InMostCases #RulesAreMoreLikeGuidelines

Here they are…

Commandment 1: Must. Have. Love. Triangle.

Life isn’t complicated enough, obviously, so let’s toss in a love triangle. That makes everything deliciously more complicated. Terrible for the characters, fantastic for the readers. Er…mostly.

Also, more kissing opportunities.

And potential for drama.

And suspense—who will be chosen as the romantic interest and what will be the fate of the relationships?

Commandment 2: All the gray and grim and grungy.

Yes, preciousss. What is a YA dystopia without a gray and grim milieu? A myriad of gray hues and layers upon layers of grayness across the land. And all the grimness. Plus lots of grungy. Lots and lots.

Commandment 3: Lots of death.

You know, because it’s gray and grim, and in such circumstances, people typically die. See: stories everywhere.

Sometimes it’s side characters or random nameless dudes with guns. Sometimes important characters we may or may not love. But the one thing we do know—it will happen.

Commandment 4: Our world…but not.

There can’t be dystopian stories without some cataclysmic or apocalyptic disaster that first ravages the world as we know it and transforms everything into a “sort of familiar but not really but kind of with some relics of the past but a new world and society and rules.”

In a nutshell, the answer to the question, “What would the world look like post-apocalypse?”

Commandment 5: First person present tense is a thing of beauty.

I am Groot!



Wrong fandom box. Ahem. You saw nothing. You heard nothing.

Or is it…I see nothing? I hear nothing? 😮

Moving right along…


What fun is a story without some baddies in high places, right? Not only does it make for eternal difficulties for the main character, it breeds conflict and turmoil and tension, and appeals to our sense of injustice. Which naturally leads to…

Commandment 7: The resistance! The rebellion!! The revolution!!!

Let’s overthrow DAS EVIL GOVERNMENT! We are the people. We will no longer live in bondage and fear. We want FREEDOM!

Let us fight for our rights, even though we likely will die. But we deserve a better life. Our families deserve a better life. Down with tyranny. Hurrah for independence.

Also, lots of battles.

Commandment 8: Kissing.

Yeah, teenagers these days.

Commandment 9: Angsty, emotional teenager? But of course.

How could the story possibly stand on its own two feet without the whirlwind of said angst and emotions?


It’s a hard life, okay? Lots of difficult things. Probably some dead family members. And fighting. And killing. Why not give in to suffering emotional trauma, to blubbering, to fretting every third page and crying a reservoir of tears as regularly as the clock strikes twelve? That only ever makes the story 1,000 times better.

So bring on the inundating waves of emotion and angst. We love it. We crave it. We need it. Apparently so do the characters.

Sarcasm level: nuclear.

Commandment 10: Give us a special person.

The YA dystopian version of “The Chosen One.”

*cue dramatic music and lights and ooohhhs and aaahhhss*


What would the story be without a key person, the engine driving everything forward? Of course, this person gets lots of limelight and attention. As well he or she should.

After all, stuck in the middle of a love triangle. Helping lead a rebellion. Dealing with the tossing sea of emotions. Exploring the gray not our world. Coming face to face with the leaders of DAS EVIL GOVERNMENT! Plotting the demise of the tyrants. Kissing all the love interests.

Like, do they ever sleep? 😮


⇒ Which commandments do you enjoy?

⇒ Which ones drive you up a wall?


The 10 Commandments of YA Dystopian Stories — 8 Comments

    • Hahaha, thanks! I appreciate it. 😀

      In my book, there’s no such thing as laughing to hard at blog posts. 😉 If they’re funny, of course. If not, well, then that’s a different problem. 😮

  1. This. Was. Brilliant. XD I LOVE IT. Mostly because, well, I’m not a super fan of dystopia from what I’ve watched/read, they’re ALL like this so I can make fun of it while understanding it and just yes. XDDD Hilarious as always! Love your spoof posts about cliches and stuff. 😀

    • Thank. You. 😀 😀

      Haha, pretty much same here. I don’t have a *ton* of experience with dystopia, but the majority of the YA stuff I’m familiar with fits this mold like a hand in a glove.

      Hehe, the goal is to be funny, so YAY! I’m accomplishing that. Plus it’s heaps of fun for me to write spoof posts. 😛 As evidenced by the great number I’ve accumulated on my blog so far. LOL

  2. 😀 so so so true… and horribly funny… blech. All of these drive me up the wall. Especially the love triangles… ESPECIALLY since the angsty, insecure, drama queen protagonist that we are stuck inside the head of does not seem anywhere near interesting or attractive enough to warrant all the love-triangle-y attention. Seriously… she’s (pick a YA dystopian heroine, any YA dystopian heroine) always a nightmare… why are all these boys head-over-heels for her? Ooooh, riiiight… drama for drama’s sake. Because DAS evil government and gray post-apocalyptic world do not bring enough drama on their own…. or something….

  3. This could not be more accurate. XD Especially the love triangles! Why does every YA dystopian need to have one? And it’s always super obvious who the character is going to end up with. *eye roll*

    • IKR?!?!?! Like seriously people. Let’s see something different. How about a love square? Or no shapes whatsoever…just characters doing their thing without including “Must fall in love with a minimum of two people” in their contract. 😛

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Madeline! 🙂

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