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The best dystopian writing prompts

We're living through strange times — but they could always get stranger. Dystopian literature allows us to project ourselves into the distant (or not too distant) future, and imagine what we might find. Perhaps a post-apocalyptic landscape ravaged by war, a nightmarish government who are in absolute control of its citizens, or a human race that has merged with technology. The possibilities are endless, and we're here to provide some more inspiration.

To get you started, here are our top ten dystopian writing prompts:

  • Write a story about a character who is certain the world is going to end today.
  • In the end, it wasn't humankind that destroyed the world. It was (fill in the blank).
  • Write a story about a group of zombie friends who go adventuring together after the apocalypse.
  • You are a clone designed to mimic your human's every movement and habit so that you can seamlessly take over after the apocalypse starts, but there's just one problem: your human is the weirdest human being ever.
  • Write about an apocalypse triggered by technology. What happened?
  • A mobile app tells you the amount of time that you have left to live. One morning, this time on everyone's phones syncs to the same number.
  • Write a story about two enemies who must band together to survive the aftermath of the end of the world.
  • No one left on Earth knows what the color blue looks like… until one day, the great fog parts, and the sky appears for the first time in millennia.
  • Write about the end of the world… of Atlantis.

If you're looking for some more help writing your dystopian story, check out this free resource:

  • The Ultimate Worldbuilding Guide (free resource) — To write a dystopian story, you need to understand the world you're creating, inside and out. What kind of resources are available? How has society changed? Is there crime, or poverty, or has the world left its issues behind — or at least the government claims it has? Our worldbuilding template will ask the questions you need to find this information.

Want more help learning how to write a dystopian short story? Check out How to Write a Short Story That Gets Published — a free, ten-day course guiding you through the process of short story writing by Laura Mae Isaacman, a full-time editor who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn.

Ready to start writing? Check out Reedsy’s weekly short story contest, for the chance of winning $250, plus potential publication in our literary magazine, Prompted! You can also check out our list of writing contests or our directory of literary magazines for more opportunities to submit your story.


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