Dystopias can largely be thought of as a series of setbacks for the protaganist, none of which are significantly overcome. This is the problem of the dystopia for me.
Setbacks can be thought of as the machinery of plot. The protaganist wants something and if s/he just gets it right off the bat there is no plot. So a setback must occur. It could be one gigantic setback or a series of them.
Indeed, if your novel is too short, perhaps only novella length, then just add a setback or two to try to stretch the story out. You wouldn’t be the first author who did this.
The first setback could be overcome. But remember this is a dystopia so probably the first setback is a loss. Which leads to the second setback. This also likely a loss. And on and on it goes in a dystopia.
It is common in more positive fiction to overcome the first setback. Then it is on to the second unforeseen setback. Which is also overcome. The story can rise to the biggest setback and thus the climax. I know some people are down on happy endings. But I am never down on a happy ending that forces a new solution to the protaganist’s problem.
And that is the thing. New solutions to each problem or setback forces the author to think more and actually solve problems. It is my contention that it is easier to write dystopias. Failing is always easier than passing. This is one of my main problems with dystopias.
Oh sure, the better authors of dystopias can now do cutesy things with their extra time. Like a dystopic government could call the Ministry of Ongoing War, the Ministry of Peace which gets the author irony brownie points.
But I am not so easily won over. Figure out how to solve problems, dystopic authors, or you lose my attention. That is if you can even get my attention while writing a dystopia.
It is my contention that writing dystopias are easier. All you might have to do is list problems. This will always strike me as easier than listing problems and also solving those problems. You will not win me over to the praising of dystopias side. I remain committed to the more positive types of fiction. Especially my favourite one, Sensawunda science fiction.