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On-the-go Plot Kit for Any YA Sci-Fi Novel

by Mea

Having trouble kicking off your writing career? Ever had to meet a deadline, but been faced with the dreadful writer’s block? Never fear! This simple recipe will have you churning out bestsellers by the dozen!

Setting: Should be a dystopian, future Earth* where little is known about the past and the government has complete control over the lives of citizens, but all the adults don’t mind. Should have some sort of system that sorts teenagers into categories in a coming-of-age ceremony. Make sure to capitalize all nouns relating to said system, so readers will know it is important.

*Future technology should include energy weapons, truth serums, perfect psychological tests, and genetic manipulation, all explained with inconsistent technobabble. Robots are optional. Bonus points for mind control.

Point of View: First person, present tense. Multiple POVs are encouraged, preferably one from each love interest. Don’t bother making it so the readers can tell them apart – just use their name as the chapter title.


-Main Character – should be a plain and a completely average teenage girl. Interests and personality are optional, but a dramatic internal voice is a must, as well as low self-esteem.

-Love Interest 1 – should be hotter than the sun and completely perfect. For drama, have him fight with the main character over stupid things, like having friends of the opposite sex.

-Love Interest 2 (optional, but preferred) – should be as hot as Love Interest 1, and usually starts out as the MC’s friend. His main purpose is to comfort the MC after she fights with Love Interest 1. This should cause the main character to be attracted to him as well, and then feel conflicted about which boy she really loves.

-Sundry side characters – all they really need is a suitably unique name. That will make them memorable. Some of them should be the MC’s friends, but she can forget about them for long periods of time. Kill them off whenever you want to show that a situation is dire.


Your ordinary girl has always felt like she’s the only one who doesn’t fit any of the Categories. When the Choice/Trial/Test comes along, she rebels against the system and winds up among other rebels, all of whom happen to be teenagers. Don’t worry about the logistics of how they arm or train themselves when none of them have a real job or any money.

Here is where the real plot starts. She meets Love Interest 1 and they fall in love immediately. Impress upon the reader how deep her love runs by having her spend inordinate amounts of time staring into his eyes. Have him show his love for her by doing something suitably creepy, like watching her while she sleeps. Intersperse love scenes as you see fit. Try to be edgy, but not too graphic – this is YA fiction, after all, and the movie can’t be rated R. This blissful stage should go on for several chapters while both of them begin training in whatever cool combat style you can think of. Archery and throwing knives are good choices.

However, you do need some source of conflict, so there must be obstacles to their love. One of these is the oppressive government, of course, but far more important is that one girl Love Interest 1 keeps looking at or the stupid risks he keeps taking. This should cause a number of fights, after which Love Interest 2 comforts your main character, causing her to develop feelings for him, too.

Spend the second third of your novel having her fight with each of them in turn, trying to decide who she actually loves. Intermix this with scenes of them training or discussing strategy, just to remind the reader that they really are rebels and that this is not a high school drama.

Now you realize you’re most of the way through this book and they still haven’t made any progress towards overthrowing the oppressive government. Never fear – simply have them discover something world-shattering in the most convenient way possible, preferably at the same time the oppressive government finally gets around to stamping out their pesky rebel group.

A huge fight should break out, with your heroes trying to capture some vital piece of information/weapon/government official. At this point, those sundry side characters should start dropping like flies, and one or both Love Interests should be presumed dead. For maximum drama, put both of the Love Interests in danger, and make your main character choose which one to save. The most intense moment is the perfect place to end your book.

Now, do a basic edit for grammar and spelling, wrap it up, and send it to a publishing company. You are guaranteed a trilogy deal and a movie adaptation. Congratulations! 

Don’t worry too much about what will happen in the rest of the trilogy – after the book hits the bestseller lists, people will buy the next two books no matter what happens in them. Sit back and relax as the fame and money roll in. A few more of these trilogies, and you'll be set for life.

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Tue Feb 02, 2021 6:16 pm
Carina says...

as someone writing a coming-of-age future dystopian earth story, i feel personally attacked

Mea says...


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Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:51 pm
erilea says...

Is it just me, or did you base this completely off of The Hunger Games? :D

Mea says...

Actually more Divergent, but Hunger Games was a big inspiration too. :P

erilea says...

Ah. :P All I saw were the Hunger Games references.

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Sun Sep 04, 2016 12:02 pm
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eppotts wrote a review...

This is so freaking relevant!!! I really love science fiction young adult novels, especially ones exactly like you described. So it is sort of difficult for me to resist the urge of reading seven different series that are practically the same story with different proper nouns. This is really funny stuff by the way- I realize you wrote this almost a year ago but I hope you write more!

A new fan

Mea says...

I glad you liked it!

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Tue May 17, 2016 2:23 pm
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chhlovebooks says...

Wow.... just wow. This is so freakin' true! xD

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Mon May 16, 2016 11:31 pm
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StupidSoup says...

Oh the times I've spent discussing this

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Sun May 15, 2016 9:10 pm
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Zackymas wrote a review...

Oh my God YESSS! XD
This is the kind of essays I love. I was actually thinking on making something like this, thanks for doing it my friend. I totally agree, this YA SciFi scheme is getting out hand. Like, the cliche is over 9000! It reminds me of when I saw the Hunger Games movie, I hadn't read the books but I was like "yo this is cool I'm gonna read the book", then I noticed Divergent, and the Host, and etc, then I was like "Wait no, this is all the same bull!"

I like that you really portrayed the biggest offenders in this overused genre (Female MC, two love interests, adults don't give a crap, etc) so kuddos for that ;)

"Don’t bother making it so the readers can tell them apart – just use their name as the chapter title." This killed me, for real. It's awesome how you captured it. Also, am I the only one who has noticed how non-writers haven't realized how this formula is used over and over again, and they just keep praising those books? It's like the Call of Duty of writing, for real XD

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Sun May 15, 2016 7:03 am
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soundofmind says...

Well now I know how to cure my writer's block AND get rich! Ca-chING. (I also just realized that this is a year old. Oop.)

Mea says...

Lol it's only 5 months old (wow already, time flies). But it's apparently it's made its way to the Spotlight again too so don't feel too bad. xD

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Sat May 14, 2016 4:37 pm
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RippleGylf wrote a review...

Very much true. So many YA "bestsellers" copy this very irritating formula, and I think you summed it up nicely.

The title is very fitting, in that this formula only covers dystopian fiction. You could have said, "On-the-go Plot Kit for Any YA Dystopian Novel," and it would have worked just as well. The interesting thing is, you generalized it to any YA SciFi novel. This may not seem like a positive the way I have been wording this, but to be honest, every SciFi YA novel that is actually popular is dystopian, a point made simply by your choice of title.

I could go on and on about how accurate this is. Good job. :)

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Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:19 pm
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kartikdevpura wrote a review...

Hi, kartikdevpura here for a review!

Perfect! This was quite well-written, and I have to say I agree with most of the stuff you wrote. The 'sci-fi novel trilogy' has become so cliché nowadays, that reading it one more time could make me puke.

Yes, the plot is overused. But in my opinion, it is only because mainstream readers love this garbage. That is the reason that writers are now completely churning out uncreative material.

But anyway, this a very short review. I really liked this piece and hope you continue to write awesome satire. Will be back for more!

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Wed Dec 30, 2015 10:55 pm
InfiniteRectangles wrote a review...

Hello, InfiniteRectangles here with a review for you! Also, Happy Review Day!

First, I absolutely loved this, and every word of it is (sadly) true. What makes the truth of this so hard to swallow for me is that I used to be a huge fan of dystopian fiction (not the dumb stuff they have now, but Ayn Rand and such) so to see it turned to such utter crap is so sad to me. You were so accurate and entertaining in your delivery of this, and by the end I was laughing at how ridiculously true this is. You really hit the nail on the head with this one, there isn't much constructive criticism to give you because you were so precise. Well done! I love the bit about the love triangle. Such a sad thing to see in a novel. It's so cliche it makes me want to bash my head in (sorry for random and unsolicited violence XD) Also the bit about the parents made me laugh. I love it!

Anyway, that is all I have for you. This piece was very entertaining (but I may be biased because satires are my favorite XD) and I am looking forward to reading more of your work. Keep writing and have a wonderful day/night!

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Wed Dec 30, 2015 10:28 pm
HolographicLadybug wrote a review...

Hello! Holographic Ladybug here for a review!

I see this happening. All. The. Time. By now dystopian novels have gotten so annoying (tears hair out) and sooooooo overly clichéd. Your little (insert whatever you want to call this here) is true on so many levels, reminding me so much of Divergent, the Hunger Games, and even the Lunar Chronicles (luckily, it's not a trilogy or an over-cliché, so I'm happy with reading them :) ).

Yeah, I totally agree on this. There adults always seem so carefree about the whole thing or barely show up at all.
You've made what I'm guessing is a direct Divergent reference here. Nice touch.

Point of View
Always, always, always present tense is what is being written for this. I agree basically. Sorry, but even if I were to writ one of these, I can't write in present tense. Will I still get my movie adaptations? ;)

At this point, having this specific list of characters is so typical in dystopian novels, that it feel like I'm dreading the characters. Love triangles are so overdone in my opinion. How about a love diamond or love square? I just wish that some people would ditch the norm and just get creative!
Also about the side characters, I kind of find that they just fade to the background. The book hints at close relationships with them (like being the female's best friend), but they just fade into the background and they feel so unimportant, you know?
By the way, the hotter than the sun thing is hilarious!

Yes, the whole "let's completely overdo it and stare into each other's eyes for over half of the book" thing is accurate but repetitive (within the book)....like a lot of dystopian books.
If it were up to me, I'd kill off practically all background characters in the first book and leave at the both-love-interests-are-probably-going-to-die ending. In the second book they both die despite the main's attempts. She will then proceed to go on a murderous rage and try to overthrow the government herself. She will then get thrown in jail and the book will end. On the final book, Love Interest #1 will come in to save her and they will go on to vanquish the head of the government. They will try to correct the world, but realize that it can't be fixed and go somewhere to make out for the rest of their lives. But then the son of the Head of the Government will take over, Love Interest #2 will find the main and they will go defeat the new dictator. They both end up dying and the world is doomed. The end.

Whoa that went on way longer than expected. Sorry about the rambling. Excellent piece, by the way. It totally captured today's "best" books.
Stay awesome!
~Holographic Ladybug :D

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Wed Dec 30, 2015 5:59 pm
Kelpies wrote a review...

Hello Meandbooks!

I found this to be quite amusing, and hilarious. What really makes it funny is how true it seems, and describes quite a few YA novels very well. I couldn't find any errors, grammatical or otherwise. I do hope that these shallow books stop being popular, and teens read something with some actual depth to it. Mostly because I can't stand it when people ramble on about books I'm never going to bother reading.


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Tue Dec 01, 2015 5:47 am
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Lightsong says...

Ohmegerd, reading dis. The feels! xD

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Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:06 am
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TheSilverFox says...

Ironically, I was thinking about, either today or yesterday, how typical all of these popular YA sci-fi novels are. And it's like you took the words right out of my mouth. XD

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Mon Nov 30, 2015 10:47 pm
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TimmyJake says...

The main character also needs to be amazing at warfare, but says she's just 'okay'.... xd

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Mon Nov 30, 2015 5:39 pm
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Sonder says...

Brilliant! *jots down notes*

u can't have villains exist just 2 b villains
— ShadowVyper