|Image of Snowden from article linked below|
So...while we've been hearing for a few seasons that publishers aren't looking for dystopian anymore, I can't imagine that they wouldn't start snatching up a few more now to be paired with all of the inevitable Snowden bios and "ripped from the headlines" stories and I think it just might be the time to take that maligned dystopian you have out of the drawer and start querying it again. This has also given me the opportunity to start deconstructing the key elements of society-as-villain in a dystopian novel.
* Government names dehumanize: Aside from a singular key leader who may be hyper-humanized with a very specific name, usually the naming is vague. Numbers or titles are often popular, as are familial relations (brother, father, etc.) in order to strip away individuality/humanity though the familial titles do manage to maintain more warmth. It is always easier to hate a nameless thing.
* Protagonist names are often very humanizing: As we are meant to be sympathetic with the protagonist, the protagonist often has a very meaningful name. Often he/she is named after a relative, something beautiful in nature, or is simply unique (but often familiar sounding nonetheless).
* Clinical terminology is dehumanizing, but also appealing: All forms of distancing language are in high use in a dystopian as at the core of a dystopian work is usually a deep-seated desire for life to be more clean and predictable than it is.
* Society is not a singular entity: With shared responsibility comes shared blame and it can be infuriating to not have a singular person on which to lay said blame. The lack of singular enemy enhances a sense of powerlessness and "raises the stakes". Often in a novel a singular entity will be given blame by the end. In real life a few singular persons are "thrown to the wolves" to receive the punishment for the collective entity.
* Passive sentence construction/ overuse of "to be" verbs creates a sense of powerlessness: These enhance the clinical nature of the work and are highly distancing from the reader. Great dystopian writers often jar us by contrasting the cold distance of passive voice with the vital alive-ness of a protagonist who thinks and speaks in active verbs.
* The core desire of the society is often good, or at least began that way: While some dystopian societies have their starting point with a con artist who never intended good (though his rhetoric was almost certainly appealing to the good in his society), most were able to come into being by reaching to the citizens' sense of a greater good. Often the pattern is that men of the society gave over freedom in order to have a cleaner/safer/longer life, and then paid the consequences when society felt the old dictum "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."