56 Dystopian Writing Prompts

Escape to a dark, disheartened world with these 56 dystopian writing prompts.

Mass poverty, cruelty and fear cover a dystopian world. From the shelter-like homes to the dark, broken streets. Life is hard. When writing a story set in a dystopian world you need to describe the harsh reality of this world in great detail. Make the reader fear this world. Think about the leaders who have control. This control might be significant, where harsh rules are made to keep the peace. Alternatively, there could be a rebellion, where leaders have no control and civilians are running havoc. See our master list of world-building questions to help develop a believable dystopian world.

A dystopian world is a world in shatters and ruins. How did it become this way? What rules and regimes do civilians follow, if any? What type of crime is most prominent in this world? These questions will help you create a realistic and powerful dystopian world for your readers.

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Looking for some name ideas for your new world? Check out this world name generator. You might also find this list of Earth day writing prompts and this list of over 110 sci-fi writing prompts.

Dystopian writing prompts

To help you create a powerful story about a society in crisis, here are our 56 dystopian writing prompts:

  1. In the year 2,121, sea levels have risen at an extreme rate. 98% of the Earth is now underwater. The remaining 2% is made of small islands scattered across the Earth. With resources at a scarcity, the islands must work together if they are to survive.
  2. A virus has wiped out 95% of humanity in the future. The only survivors are machines and a group of secret underground warriors who rebelled against technology for centuries.
  3. In the future, a virus has caused some humans to mutate into ravenous troll-like beasts. While the remaining humans have to learn to survive in the world with these beasts.
  4. The life expectancy of people has dropped drastically in the future. At the age of 18, humans start to deteriorate and slowly pass away. The ruler is an arrogant 14-year-old kid.
  5. Scientists have combined robotics with human tissue to increase the life expectancy of humans. Apart from the vital organs, such as lungs and heart, as well as parts of the brain, humans are mostly robotic. Eventually, humans start losing control of their bodies to machines. 
  6. From the moment a human is born to the day they die, humans are connected to the internet. Everything they need to know about life is on a screen to which they are connected. One day, a technology outbreak completely wipes the internet. Humans are switched off. What happens next?
  7. Scientists have found the secret to endless happiness. They create a new pill that needs to be taken once a day to remain happy. But is this new pill all as it seems?
  8. To promote equality in the future, humans have to dress the same and talk the same. Any inappropriate English and slang words are banned. All around the world, everyone must speak English. If these rules are broken, the rule breaker will be sentenced to prison or even death.
  9. With the brand new Cloner 3000, cloning is just a button press away. Clone your cat, your dog and even yourself if you dare. What are the potential dangers of cloning yourself too many times? 
  10. Law and order is destroyed in the future. People are free to do whatever they want without any consequences. Until a group of vigilante heroes decide to recreate the law.
  11. There are two types of people, the rich and the poor. The rich have an extreme amount of money and power. And the poor are living on the streets and undergrounds, struggling to get by. A poor orphan girl is adopted by a rich family and discovers a deadly secret about how the rich become rich. 
  12. The excessive use of technology and social media has meant that 95% of the world suffers from extreme social phobia. The slightest human interaction results in mass panic attacks. One brave human decides to create a group where people can meet face to face regularly to help them overcome this fear.
  13. Crime has become such a huge issue in the future, that every home in the world has become a prison cell. Prison guards patrol the streets and provide prisoners with the essentials. One guard feeling guilty that his family is locked behind bars, tries freeing them, and soon things get out of control. 
  14. Oxygen is the new currency in the future. Instead of money people buy, earn and sell little canisters of oxygen. Continue this dystopian story…
  15. Desperate to create the perfect world, the government provides every person with a free virtual reality headset. Once worn, the person is transported to a tranquil utopia. Meanwhile, the government secretly has other plans in the real world. 
  16. A virus has turned every tree, plant and flower on earth into flesh-eating monsters. The only way to survive is to kill all plant life on Earth, but how will the planet survive?
  17. A new mobile app in the future tells people when to eat, sleep, drink and essentially live. Without the app, humans would be lost, confused and clueless. A group of cyber hackers, hack this app to gain control of all humans. 
  18. Being the main cause of social disorders and suicides, the internet is banned in the year 2,098. With the ban of the internet, people slowly resort to the old ways of living before the internet ever existed. Until a group of individuals find a way to bring back the net. 
  19. Bored of old-style video gaming, humans resort to sticking chips inside prisoners. Once a prisoner is chipped, they can be controlled like a video game character. 
  20. Desperate to be beautiful and young, rich people resort to stealing the actual skin and facial features of ordinary people. These extreme surgeries soon start to have a weird effect on humans.
  21. The Earth has been destroyed by a huge asteroid. A few humans that survived by living underground finally emerge to start a new life on Earth. 
  22. With the Earth’s population at an all-time high, it’s time for every human to prove their worth. After the age of 16, humans must take a test every year. If they fail the test, they are killed immediately. One young adult scores incredibly high on the test making them the ‘chosen one’. 
  23. Due to the lack of resources on Earth, all luxury items have been banned. People survive on basic rations of bread, rice and beans each month. No vanity items, such as jewellery or make-up are allowed. One day a group of civilians discover that luxury items do exist, but only the leaders can use them. 
  24. For the sake of human evolution, scientists have turned the small town of Whitefish into a huge science experiment. No one is allowed to enter or leave the city unless they are told so. Every now and then, a new stimulus is introduced, so that scientists can record the human reactions for a research paper. 
  25. Write a story about the aftermath of World War 5. Who was at war and who lost it? What devastation did the war create on Earth?
  26. In the far future, robots are responsible for creating human life. They carefully program each human when they are born to do certain tasks in life. One human realizes that they don’t need to follow the orders programmed in them and fights for freedom.
  27. After a huge asteroid hits Earth, the last two survivors have to find a way to recreate life. It’s a modern, dystopian Adam and Eve story.
  28. World leaders ban religion and talk of God in the future. A man discovers a secret church up in the mountains where people secretly believe in God. 
  29. Due to animal cruelty, people are no longer allowed to have animals as pets in the future. All pets live out in the wild without any human masters. One homeless teenager finds a hurt dog in the wild and takes care of it. Eventually, authorities find out about this forbidden friendship.
  30. A bored scientist dedicates his whole life to recreating popular monsters like vampires, werewolves and Frankenstein’s monster in real life. He finally masters the procedure and offers it to rich people at a price.
  31. Tired of the rat race and busy city-living, people move to the country to live a peaceful and calm life. Eventually, cities like New York City become a playground for criminals and runaways.
  32. When the human population on land reaches an all-time high. One man goes on a quest to create the ultimate underwater city for humans. Continue this story.
  33. In the year 2,121, 100% of the population becomes vegan. Eating any sort of animal product is considered cannibalism. Farm animals realize that humans will no longer eat them, so decide to plan their revenge.
  34. Cyber-pets become a huge thing in the future. Technology advances so much that people would rather buy robotic pets inside of real ones. This results in more stray animals on the streets. With no human love, the pets turn into savages attacking both humans and the cyber-pets.
  35. Humans have left Earth for a better life on Mars. One day, thousands of years later, a space astronaut from Mars lands on Earth to find…
  36. In the future, the majority of jobs have been taken over by robots. The only way to earn money is to take part in a series of games and challenges created by the rich for their entertainment.
  37. Everyone on Earth has experienced some sort of mutation in the future. This mutation has made humans powerful and troll-like. As the only pure human (with no mutations), your character’s daughter is kidnapped by a group of mutants who want to use her blood to make humans human-like again. 
  38. Imagine you are the last human survivor on Earth. What would you do alone on Earth?
  39. Describe a future where all humans are either deaf or blind.
  40. You and your family live underground away from all the technology. Write a series of diary entries about life underground.
  41. Sugar is banned completely in the future. Even fruits that taste sugary are no longer available. You are the leader of a secret underground group that creates your own homemade sugar. However since humans haven’t tasted sugar in a long time, the results become very dangerous.
  42. Since Earth has been destroyed, every family lives in their own spaceship homes floating around the galaxy. Every now and then you need to protect your home from space invaders, pirates and of course black holes.
  43. Write a story about one boy, his dog and a group of robots living on Earth as the only survivors. 
  44. Lying dormant deep at the core of the Earth, dragons finally awake. After a series of powerful earthquakes, they burst through the ground one by one. 
  45. With surveillance cameras watching everyone. A new TV show called, ‘Did They Really Do That’ airs across the nation showing the most embarrassing moments of civilians living in your area. You then go on a mission to destroy all surveillance and destroy the TV show.
  46. One man’s dream to swim with the dolphins is taken to extremes, as he genetically modifies a group of humans, so that they can swim underwater. Unknowingly these humans turn into monstrous mermaid-like creatures.
  47. Huge floating islands are created all over Earth to cope with the increase in the human population. These floating islands become new countries on the map with their own rules and way of life. 
  48. In the year 3,021 world peace is finally achieved. Everyone lives in perfect harmony. But how was this world peace achieved? One curious civilian makes a shocking discovery.
  49. Write a news article about the latest riot happening in your town in the year 2,899. Why did this riot happen? Who was involved? Where did it happen? What exactly happened before and during the riot?
  50. You are a lab assistant for a company that creates genetic make-up for humans. The make-up keeps humans looking young for their entire lifespan of 180 years. One day you discover something shocking…
  51. Cats and dogs have evolved into human-shaped beings. They now rule Earth and treat humans like pets. 
  52. Due to natural extinction and the threat of disease, all animals are gone in the future. You and your family have created a secret underground zoo, which holds the last remaining animals on Earth.
  53. Write a story from the perspective of a servant robot who wants to be the mayor of the city. 
  54. Scientists have learned to extract emotions from humans and contain them in jars. At a price, you can remove negative emotions like anger, sadness and fear. You can also sell and buy positive emotions like happiness. To obtain a new emotion, you simply inhale the emotion directly from the jar. In a special clinic, over 10,000 jars of emotions are contained, until one day…
  55. The Earth is a massive video game for advanced aliens living on a distant planet. They randomly spawn monsters whenever they feel like, and can control any human they like. One day the aliens are so bored that they create a big scary boss monster for a town of people to fight.
  56. In an effort to create a better world, all humans must take a personality test. If your personality does not meet the criteria set by the government, then you are sent to work camps. People at the work camps live a horrible life of abuse, torture and endless hard work for 18 hours a day. Imagine that your main character fails the personality test, and is sent to one of these camps.

For more gritty ideas, check out our guide on what is dieselpunk plus story ideas.

What do you think of these dystopian writing prompts? Which one is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.

Dystopian Writing Prompts

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