“U” is for Utopian
I write dystopian fiction. A dystopia is an undesirable or frightening society characterized by misery. It is the opposite of utopia.
A utopian society has perfection in law and politics and very little crime, violence, or poverty. The term was first used by Sir Thomas More in his book, Utopia.
Saint Thomas More was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, and councilor to Henry VII. He was beheaded for refusing to acknowledge King Henry’s annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and for refusing to recognize the king as the Supreme Head of the Church of England.
His parting words: “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”
In 1516, he wrote a political satire called Utopia. While the word utopian has come to mean “a good place,” in Greek the word means “not place” or “nowhere” because the place doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. More’s story is all about the religious, social, and political customs of a fictional island. Through his story of this fictional land, he discusses some of the bad things going on in Europe at the time and he proposes a society based on rational thought, where there is no poverty or class distinction, and little crime or immoral behavior, and no threat of war.
It is a good idea for a writer to have a version of utopia in mind, all that is good and true, when they are writing conflict, challenges, and failings into the plot. We can’t delve into the bad if we don’t have the framework of good.
What would an ideal society look like to you? What would an ideal life look like to you? What does “the ideal” look like to the protagonist in your story?