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So you've decided to write a cyberpunk story. You love to read about man's fight against injustice, invasive technology and corruption, so you've decided to give your interpretation of it.

First, be sure to check out Write a Story for basic advice that holds across all genres. Then, come back here for some extra advice.


All examples here are, well, examples. Do not try to wrap your head around a story using all of the examples.

Necessary Tropes

The very nature of the genre dictates that your material will fall under any of these tropes. Learn to use them well. See also Cyberpunk Tropes for additional tropes.

Choices, Choices

These tropes cover a wide spectrum of choices regarding a certain element of your story, and you're going to have to pick a spot somewhere on that spectrum. Unless we've forgotten to include something, and you can spot it, because in that case you might actually surprise us after all.

  • Police State vs. Anarchy: Is the government an all-powerful organization that enforces the law through SWAT teams, Secret Police and Sinister Surveillance, or is the lack of government and control that leads to the state of the world?
  • The Gunslinger vs. Playful Hacker: Your protagonist is going to have to solve their problems one way or another, it's not going to be easy. Does he or she solve her problems through the careful (or not so careful) application of projectiles, or are they solved through the use of viruses, trojans, denial-of-service attacks and forced intrusion?
  • Hard Sci-Fi vs. Cyberspace: Is everything in your world explained through plausible technology, or are you writing this on a typewriter?
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: How do people who have cybernetic implants act? Do they run around and kill everyone because their implants makes them go crazy, or are they perfectly well adjusted beings?
  • Do Androids Dream??: If your story centers around the existence of Artificial Humans, how are they treated? Are they on par with humans, or are they treated as slaves? What makes it possible to discern an android or an AI from a human? Do android have emotions, desires, feelings?
  • The Singularity: Want a big finale and/or an over-arching theme to tie together the actions of the characters? It's also a natural extension of the Cyberpunk theme of disorienting rapid cultural and technological change. A technological singularity has featured in the works of the greats. Of course this last point might be a reason to avoid it, too.
  • Cyberpunk vs Post Cyber Punk: Is technology a tool of dystopian oppression or something that allows the people to fix problems?

Pitfalls

Watch out for these tropes! They're bad news - or, well, at least they're tropes you generally want to avoid - and they're particularly common in your chosen genre.

Potential Subversions

These tropes are in common use throughout the genre, so we'll forgive you if you use them - but if you can think of a good way to subvert, invert, or just plain avert them, then you just might be able to start a new trend....


Writers' Lounge

Suggested Themes and Aesops


Potential Motifs

  • Anything goes, but especially ancient literature and art. The Birth of Venus goes extremely well together with People Jars, and images of gods and the divine fit extremely well with the creation of artificial lifeforms.

Suggested Plots


Departments

Set Designer / Location Scout

  • Cities. Big, dark cities. Loads of neon lights and dull surfaces. Glass, urbanism, downtrodden undergrounds and shady pubs. Small apartments. Everywhere looks like central Tokyo. Maybe a space station or an abandoned genetic factory.

Props Department

Costume Designer

  • Trenchcoats, sunglasses, leather jackets, and the alike. Everything is in black or other dull colours, with small amounts of bright colours for emphasis, especially neon-green, neon-blue, neon-red, fluorescent orange and neon-purple.

Casting Director


Stunt Department

  • Fight scenes, though you can get away without them.

Extra Credit

  • The Matrix: While straying from its cyberpunk roots, it brings up numerous interesting cyberpunk themes if you can spot them.
  • Isaac Asimov's robot series, for additional reading on robot behavior.
  • A Scanner Darkly, a very dark book/movie on people and the negative effects of drug use and ubiquitous surveillance.
  • Inception, a much more subtle take on cyberpunk. Compare to Neuromancer, contrast with The Matrix.

The Greats

The Epic Fails

Notes

  1. Yes, we do. Artificial Limbs, pacemakers, bionic ear implants, bionic hearts, etc
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