Okay, so we know that a lot of writers use their personal experiences in their fictional works. And if you didn't know that, well, now you do. (Of course, this is not always true, but there is a piece of each author, I believe, in everything they write.)
For me, I use my fears to create a scary dystopian world. Maybe fear isn't the right word. I think about things I'd really rather not live without, and then take those away in my society.
For example, I love to take really long, hot showers. So, in my world, shower time is regulated to five minutes, and five minutes only. The temperature of the water is decided for you, and it never varies.
For me, that would suck. I'm hoping that readers will think so too; that I can use something as simple as a shower to make a connection.
I've seen this used in other dystopian works I've read. Let's look at THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner. He creates an immediate sense of world--and suckage--by having Thomas lose his memory. Isn't that something we're all afraid of? Not remembering what we need to remember? Have you ever felt frustrated when you couldn't remember?
It's an instant connection. And a terrifying one.
Another device I see used a lot is the idea of a fence, or a wall. I've been blogging about it a lot on my personal blog, but I love fences/walls/barriers. To me, they symbolize fear. This thought of "There's something bad out there."
I saw a fence in DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver, a wall in BIRTHMARKED by Caragh M. O'Brien, social walls in SHIPBREAKER by Pablo Bacigalupi, a fence in THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins, nothing but walls in the space ship in ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis.
Walls are caging, confining. And who likes feeling like that? Using fear to make a connection helps in dystopian world-building, and it establishes an emotional connection from the reader to the story.
I'm all about the fear.
What do you think? What do you love that if taken away, would really stink? Could you write that into a dystopian novel? What have you read in dystopian fiction that you thought, "Wow, this world sucks. Wouldn't want to live without [fill in the blank]."?