Why Utopias are No Fun

A utopia (meaning no where land in Greek) is a perfect world, where there is no world hunger, no wars, and everyone gets along with everyone else. And it is in fact boring. In general writers do not try to write a story in a utopia because for a story you need conflict and what conflict can happen in a perfect world? As much as we might want to live in one, it does not make for exciting adventure. Much more often a story is done in a dystopia.

A dystopia is a world where everything is messed up. It can be that robots rule the world and humans are subject to them, or that a plague is wiping out whole nations, or anyone over the age of 60 is killed and used as food for everyone else (an actual movie plot), but dystopias make for great stories. The kind that leave you holding on to the edge of your seat.

One of the most common plot twists is to begin a story in a utopia until you realize at some point that you are in fact in a dystopia. An example would be a world without war where peace reigns everywhere, until you find out in the 10th chapter that all the violent people have been sent to one continent where mayhem and killing are ubiquitous. Now your main character must travel from his utopian home in order to acquire some object that just happens to be in the middle of hell on earth. It would make for a great story, and could be anything from science fiction to horror, or just straight adventure.

Hey, that’s a good idea. Maybe you should write it.

Therapy

I have decided that writing is a kind of therapy. I put myself in another person’s shoes and it is easier to feel with them often times than to deal with my own feelings. This, in turn, helps me to make contact with my own feelings. I seldom cry, but I have on several occasions, written a passage that brought tears to my eyes. This is a sort of catharsis for the emotionally shut down.

Counselors often recommend journaling for their patients, but I think this is as good of a method of getting at what is in us as anything else, because I have found that when I am missing my wife, I write love into the story. When I am angry, I write a scene where someone gets angry. When I am sad, I write a sad scene, and this gets the juices flowing the way they should. It makes me more alive. So next time you don’t know what you feel, try writing a short story and see what comes up.