Cyberpunk, a sub-genre of science fiction that is growing in popularity of late. As a writer who is interested in the genre, I was left curious on how to write an investing cyberpunk novel. Having experience in science fiction, I did further research into cyberpunk and have collected some golden advice and guidelines to help you write your cyberpunk novel. Let’s get into it!
1. Overly High-End Technology
Cyberpunk is a sub-genre of science fiction set in the far future. The future, as in most science fiction, is filled with advanced technology. Amazing cars, brilliant healthcare, holograms and more.
In the cyberpunk genre this is even more so. The technology is been taken to a terrifying level. In doing so, the technology feels like it violates more human aspects of life. One thing you can count on in a cyberpunk world is that there are more people interested in technological development than human development.
On a personal note, I love that kind of writing. Taking some things a bit further certainly creates an ambience that is unique and makes for an enjoyable read. Afterall, being imaginative is the core of fiction writing, so developing technology that stretches the readers perception of the future is a fantastic aspect of the cyberpunk genre.
2. Definitely Dystopian
There is no doubt about it, cyberpunk is certainly the darker side of science fiction. With that in mind, the idea of there being a chance of a utopia is still there. However, that is something that has yet to come into fruition. Instead, the characters and the world as a whole is still firmly set in difficult times.
There will be tragedies, terroristic acts, difficult lifestyles and so on. Great dystopias are ruled by politicians fuelled by self-ish acts and power or even overwhelming organisations that have taken the world by storm. On top of that, it also has all the stereotypical dystopian qualities.
Dystopias are filled with frightening and undesirable qualities. Cyberpunk certainly fits dystopia, so it makes great use of technology to terrify the reader. What about a dark future appeals to you as a writer?
1984, by George Orwell, was a cult classic in the dystopian genre in painting a future ruled by an almost unreal, threatening leader. However, there is always that hint that the dystopia is a real possibility. Types of society that restrict and repress the average person are interesting to writers because it is massive amounts of conflict bundled up. As all writers know, conflict makes for a great story.
3. A.I, Robots and Cybernetics
Now we discuss the part of cyberpunk that most writers consider when they look at the genre. Technology is an obsession in the cyberpunk genre. It begins to stretch further, touching technology that is being developed today and taking it to a scary extent.
In the sub-genre of science fiction, cyberpunk tries to present philosophical questions through A.I, artificial intelligence. Should A.I be respected like natural life? That is a question cyberpunk books, movies and other media present to the reader, viewer etc.
Taking that further, robots are starting to become more present, taken to the extent where they become less clunky and thus more threatening in this dark dystopia. Robots are difficult to write for most authors, but if presented properly, it can even become a core feature of a cyberpunk story. Afterall, there are many great examples of robot-based plots.
Finally, cybernetics. Cybernetics involve a synthetic augmentation to a human. It can be anything from replacing a limb with some advanced technology to implanting special technology within the body that simply makes life easier. Such as a chip implant that alters your mind to understand a language you never learnt. Of course, you get more military augmentations that help make people more efficient killers, which is highly necessary in most cyberpunk stories.
However, being a dystopia, things are usually taken to a shocking extent. The cybernetics can be overwhelming or crude, the robots can be threatening and violent, the A.I can be heart-breaking or creepy. Cyberpunk does well in evoking emotions when it comes to these features of science fiction.
4. Criminal Underworld
Now, we’re going to establish one of the most important features of a cyberpunk. The dark underworld. In the cyberpunk genre, the lowlife of the city is well-established. Crime is ever present and it threatens common people everyday. Nobody escapes unaffected, either negatively or positively.
With that in mind, how does that make cyberpunk unique? Cyberpunk takes the underworld to a new level. With the advanced technology, there are still some aspects of the criminal underworld that remain. The lust for power and money will continue to persist.
However, that means your character has to encounter or be a key part of the criminal underworld. Either an average person threatened or protected by the underworld, helped or hindered. With that, you will need to consider the many aspects of crime. We have read it in detective novels such as Sherlock Holmes or from a different perspective in The Godfather. All these novels have a place in cyberpunk as they make use of the criminal underworld.
So if you wish to present crime in a different setting, cyberpunk is great genre to consider.
5. Corruption and Revolution
Now we have discussed everything from the technology-obsessed citizens to the criminal underworld, but we need to now examine the bigger picture in the cyberpunk genre. The world is being ruled by a cruel government or shady organisation. With capitalistic and corrupt society so present, it is usually the latter with a corrupt and powerful company being the evil, overbearing figure in the story.
However, cyberpunk is a dystopia, so the world will be beaten down, but there are people who will fight back. The revolution, a group of rebels against the cruel world that has come into development and will die trying to save it.
These factions, groups in society, geared towards their own major goals will conflict or work with each other in order to achieve their end-goals. Sometimes unlikely alliances will form, such as the criminal underworld helping the rebels.
Be sure to remember that this is only the bigger picture, an aspect of the world that you don’t need to include so prevalently. Most writers will make nods towards that part of the genre, but would rather follow other characters and their goals than that of the bigger picture.
On a personal note, for a more conclusive ending to dystopia, it is best to follow the revolution. Decide whether they will free the world from the overpowering, repressive force or be destroyed so the dystopia may continue.
That concludes this list of advice and guidelines that will help you write a cyberpunk novel or script. I hope you enjoyed!
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