Time for another book recipe! This time I’ll be looking at YA dystopian fiction. Get ready to be Chosen and we’ll get started!
- One totally dark and edgy heroine
- At least two tall and handsome love interests
- One standard post-apocalyptic setting
- One vague, shadowy organisation that runs everything
- Token background characters to be killed off at will
- The Prophecy
- A social categorisation system that makes no sense
- A bunch of futuristic-sounding names
- Use your post-apocalyptic setting and social categorisation system as a backdrop for our edgy heroine. Don’t explain too much, unless you’re describing what she looks like.
- She has been Chosen!
- Introduce your love interests. They must fit into one of the following categories:
- Overlooked childhood friend
- Dark and mysterious bad boy
- Plays guitar
- The Prophecy is revealed and it’s all about the heroine. It doesn’t have to make sense, it just needs lots of Impressive Capitals.
- Training montage!
- Our heroine finds out the shadowy organisation is plotting something! Better grab the love interests and investigate!
- The heroine and one of the love interests are separated from the group! Better use the time wisely and make out.
- A Mysterious Secret is discovered. Don’t pay any attention to it until the final third of the book. We’ve still got chapters to fill.
- An authority figure tries to tell the heroine what to do, but they’re over twenty-five and can be safely ignored.
- Time for a deep and meaningful conversation with the other love interest!
- More training. This time there’s a love interest there, so it’s sexy training.
- The Prophecy is coming true, just like the Elders said!
- Angst. About everything. You wouldn’t understand.
- Time to go and destroy the evil organisation! Suit up. If there’s anyone you want to get rid of, make sure the heroine talks to them before she leaves. Then they’re a goner.
- Sneak into the organisation’s lair. While you’re there, make sure the heroine agonises over who she’s going to make out with.
- BETRAYAL! Kill off a few background characters to make it stick.
- Time for the final showdown! The heroine bravely goes off to sacrifice herself, but not before making out with someone. I mean, she might die.
- Our heroine confronts the main villain, who sneers. There’s a big fight and a few tense conversations but it all works out well in the end.
- OR DOES IT??? Prepare for the inevitable trilogy.
THE END. Serve steeped in teenage angst.
- Stuck on coming up with futuristic names? Help is at hand. Just take a normal name and spell it badly.
- Responsible parents should never, ever be a feature. Anything like bedtimes, eating vegetables, and insisting you don’t throw yourself into danger at every possible opportunity would just get in the way of your heroine’s adventures.
- Never kill anyone off unless you’re absolutely sure you aren’t going to spin this out into a series.
- Always, always, always use first person, present tense.
- Don’t know how to organise your dystopian society? Take a random online quiz and base it off that. It doesn’t need to make sense – all it really needs to do is generate pointless tension.
- Any opportunity to have a ~*Forbidden Romance*~ should be seized at all costs.
- Don’t think too much about the whole apocalypse part. Hint at it in a mysterious sort of way, but don’t explain it. You don’t want your readers wondering how toothpaste survived a nuclear holocaust but electricity didn’t, you want them arguing over which cute boy the heroine should kiss!
And here’s one I prepared earlier…
For a second when I wake up I almost forget what Cycle it is. I’m back in The Dormitory with Khamm, Hollow, and Mareen, and any second now we’ll be shaken out of our bunks for Morning Nutrition.
But then I remember. I’m not in The Dormitory any more.
I get out of bed and pad over to the mirror. Elder Landseer’s house is so much nicer than The Dormitory. There are carpets, and a sink with brass taps – something that I haven’t seen before. Apparently there used to be all sorts of things like that, but they all got destroyed in The Cataclysm. Still, I don’t have time for such silly, girly things. I’d much rather be out hunting. I guess I’m not like other girls.
I examine my face in the mirror. Just an ordinary, everyday girl with aquamarine eyes, pure white hair and a scar shaped like a twisting vine on one cheekbone. Nothing special. I pull on my plain grey tunic and leggings and braid my hair. I wonder if they had braids before The Cataclysm.
There’s a knock at the door. Seconds later a guy comes in. I’d know those chartreuse eyes and obsidian hair anywhere. It’s Tretch Landseer, Elder Landseer’s only son. He raises his eyebrows at me, mockingly. “Come on, Freesia. Don’t keep us waiting.”
“It’s just Free, thanks,” I mutter. He wouldn’t understand.
He smirks and holds the door open for me. Stupidly, I trip over the carpet as I pass. I brace myself, ready for the fall, but before I hit the ground Tretch catches me around the waist.
“Careful,” he says, smirking.
I push him away, blushing. I don’t know why he’s being so nice all of a sudden. The Elders and their families hardly ever notice the Dormers. It’s only when we’ve been through The Ceremony that we actually become important.
My Ceremony was supposed to be yesterday, just like everyone else’s. It happens every year: when a Dormer turns sixteen, they are Chosen for their Echelon. There’s five, and once you’ve been Chosen you’re there for the rest of your life.
Khamm and I were both hoping for Venture. They at least get to have some fun – they’re the bravest out of everyone in The Colony, and they get to go beyond The Borderlands. But there’s also Bounty, who farm, Sinistra, who rule us, Meticule, who keep the records, and Pufflehuff, for the rest. Khamm was lucky – he got Venture after all. But when I went into the Room of Knowing, where the Ceremony takes place, nothing happened. I just stood there in the dark for ages, until Elder Landseer opened up the side door and told me I’d better follow him.
Tretch smirks at me again. He’s standing by a door with a twisting vine carved into it. Without thinking, my hand drifts up to my cheek. It looks just like my scar…
I go through the door. It’s pitch dark inside. I stand in the middle of the room and wait.
“Citizen Freesia Brightwater?” a voice asks.
“It’s Free, actually.”
“You are Citizen Freesia Brightwater?”
“Yes, but I go by –”
There’s a rush of whispering all around the room. I squint into the darkness.
“It’s true!” someone says, “she bears The Mark!”
“Her? She’s far too young.”
“She hasn’t even been Chosen! How can a Dormer stand against the Conclave?”
All at once the lights come on. The room is filled with people. I’m standing on a circular stage with rows and rows of seats rising up on every side. The Elders are sitting on a bench high above me, but it’s not them I look to. Khamm is in the front row, his chocolate-brown eyes wide with concern, his tawny hair rumpled, like always. For some reason I turn, and see Tretch looking at me too. There’s an expression on his face I’ve never seen before.
“Citizen Freesia Brightwater,” says Elder Landseer, getting to his feet, “you have been Chosen. Only you can save the world.”
Let me know what you’d like me to look at next – and as always, take this recipe with a pinch of salt.