1. jesscatlady
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    jesscatlady New Member

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    Apocalyptic Fantasy Fiction

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by jesscatlady, Dec 31, 2014.

    Hi all! I'm new and starting to become active in this community. I'm looking for a little assistance with my plot development.

    So... My story begins in this world around present time. I have the basic plot outlined but I'm now feeling apprehensive about the ending. I imagined my characters using their new-found powers to hit the "reset button" on the Earth, utterly destroying all of the shadow/demonic forces, resealing the gates of the underworld, and disintegrating all man made objects (buildings, technology, etc). Leaving behind a natural landscape to re-inhabit.

    I love this idea, but the more I think about it, the more intimidated I become. I have to think about what is going on in each country, how the government is responding to the dark/evil stuff, and all the other stuff thats happening right before the "reset button" is hit.

    My question is:

    Has anyone had experience with apocalyptic fiction (fantasy style with magic)? If so, do you have any tips? Should I avoid this all together? I don't want it to be too corny or too cliche.

    Thanks for taking the time to read :)
     
  2. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I write with my husband and we both have a penchant for cheesy and corny, so if we come up with a plot, it's most likely going to sound corny at first, but if we really dig it, we go for it and try to make it work (we're both anal about the level of realism in fiction, which sometimes clashes with some of our flightier ideas). We have written two post-apocalyptic manuscripts so far, and the second one has an outrageous premise (there's magic involved as well), and I fear if we ever get it polished and if, by some miracle, somebody else read it some day, they'd have to first suspend their disbelief from here to the moon. But, hey, if there's magic, weird shit can happen, and I'm hoping that if the characters are engaging and relatable enough, and the plot is well-crafted with solid internal logic (no cop-outs and convenient super powers), it could be an enjoyable ride to somebody else than the author(s) too. So yeah, your ending might work really well and come up as an effective, holy-shit-didn't-see-that-coming surprise.

    So, if you really like this idea. If it inspires you, if you've got fun characters in mind, a sparkling story to tell, I say go for it, no matter how outrageous or corny the ending may seem at first glance. It's also possible that if you portray only a portion of people/creatures in a relatively confined area, you wouldn't have to explain how the government of Bulgaria is dealing with the world getting reset. Your heroes might not be all that interested in their struggles anyway.
     
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  3. !ndigo
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    !ndigo Member

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    I'm not totally clear on how your story plays out but I think you could go a number of different ways depending on how exactly the reset happens.

    You could definitely have a summit of world leaders and have the grand decision to "push the button". If you did that you'd need to know some history and context for most major countries.

    If you are looking to keep it simple (and in my opinion more interesting) have the resetter be a "rogue" person or group that sees the evil in their own area and either resets to save themselves as they are under attack or resets in the interest of the greater good (realizing that they will save the most lives if they act immediately). With this method you could pretty much ignore everything that was not happening within their own country/area. You could also bring in snippets of context with newspapers or tv but it wouldn't need to be as detailed.

    Another option would be to have the evil beings interfere with communications some how so that your characters couldn't find out what was happening in the rest of the world even if they tried.
     
  4. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    Hi Jesscatlady

    Welcome to the forum …

    I’m assuming that if you are writing apocalyptic fiction, you read quite a lot from this genre already? If so, ask yourself why the most successful books in this sub-genre work. Books such as King’s The Stand, or McCarthy’s The Road. Also look at the successful films of the genre too. Ignore the eye-candy such as tornados destroying LA, car chases, cities exploding, and look into the story itself.

    For me, most of the really great apocalyptic fictions, post and otherwise, work because of how the characters react and interact, rather than the spectacle of the apocalypse itself. They work because the writer invests in a few interesting human characters who try adapting to life after the end of the world and that invokes the drama. (The Apocalypse doesn’t feel like the Apocalypse unless we feel real peril).

    With that in mind, in the story you’ve outlined, there’s a risk you might lose the emphasis on character by spreading them around a big canvas. For example, compare the likes of the movie version of The Road to, say, TheDay After Tomorrow (I’ve stopped short of comparing the book of The Road to Day AfterTomorrow, that would be unfair!).
    Now I admit to liking The Day After Tomorrow– it’s jam packed with action, end-of-the-world goodness, some decent acting, and half-credible script, but where it stalls for me, is where we jump backwards and forwards with the politicians. Yes, it’s fun to see the whole picture, but it loses some of its drama by trying to show and tell everything. It might have worked better with fewer characters, and finding some other way to convey what is happening elsewhere (through radio broadcasts, or TV etc). The Road, in comparison, focuses entirely on a boy and his dad, struggling through the bleak aftermath of something pretty devastating, yet never explained. It doesn’t have to be, because it’s the two characters who are more important here, and through them we experience the post-apocalyptic setting. We get the best of both worlds.

    So in terms of your story, it will depend on whether you are wanting to write an alternative history, telling everything, eschewing tat more dramatic approach; or, you want the character-driven drama of sayThe Road. If it’s the latter, I would ignore the rest of the world, but concentrate on that corner your main characters inhabit, and find ways of communicating the news from other parts of the world; or better still, have your characters imagine how the other corners of the world are faring. After all, the grass is always greener on the other side, especially when the world has gone into cataclysm. Not really knowing what has happened to everyone else could be an interesting narrative device that would effect character dynamics, causing conflict, revelation etc.

    For the record, I’ve written a few of post-apocalyptic stories myself (two will be published in 2015, with another book pending). The feedback from editors and agent is that they work because I’ve limited the number of characters and geographical setting, letting the reader imagine what could be happening elsewhere, rather than telling them.
     
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  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Most of the apocalyptic fiction I've read has been on sites like this or vintage stuff so I'm no expert on the genre. I'd say your best bet would be to get the reader focused on the characters if they can live the intensity of this decision through the characters - logic can be bended. It's like an average joe who must land a plane in a thriller after the pilots have been shot. He doesn't know what every button is and no one watching expects him to. If your character only has a small view of what's going on nobody will be expecting him to know what's going on anywhere else. But you can always have him speculate.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
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  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have written and had published a series that's post apocalyptic fantasy (3 novels thus far). Mine, of course, went a very different direction from what you're envisioning.

    I think that the 'reset' that destroys everything man made, all technology would have dire consequences for humanity as it is. The vast majority would die, in rather unhappy ways, exposure to the elements, disease, starvation, and man vs. man violence. The 'governmental' concern wouldn't matter. There wouldn't be any governmental structure, not at least on any scale beyond what one could yell or travel to on foot. Language might be a tie and remnant of governmental structure, but not much else.

    Of course, maybe there are basically no humans left when the reset button is to be pushed, and re-inhabit means that a handful of humans will move forward. Even so, unless the protagonists are powerful and benevolent and filled with knowledge, humanity, starting off with small numbers, and basically no technology or tools (and likely no knowledge of how to create them--how many people really know how to start a fire and could do it?) let alone create stone tools and construct all but the most basic shelter, would humanity perish? There'd be no books or base of knowledge, other than what the surviving humans had in their noggins. No remnants of technology to work from...not even a magnifying glass to focus the sun's light to start a fire.

    Yes, a pool of primitive survival experts could be seeded with pods of humanity as a work around, but I am not seeing the reset as a transport to paradise, at least as a reader. Maybe with the dire consequences of the gates open and evil being reversed, making subsistence survival something to be thankful for...

    Of course, I am just speculating as I have very little knowledge of what you're looking at doing and what the parameters are. Just tossing out some thoughts for you to consider.

    Wishing you the best as you move forward.
     
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  7. jesscatlady
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    jesscatlady New Member

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    Wow!!!! Thank you all for replying! I am honored that published writers are on here giving me pointers. :D

    Anywho, YES I am a big fan of this genre! As for my plan, I was hoping to follow just a crowd of my main characters. I want to make their relationships compelling and heart-wrenching (quite a few of my main characters perish actually). I'm thinking that the majority of the people on the planet die (I know, morbid right?), except for the groups that the magic folk could save.

    The reason I've been obsessed over what the rest of the Earth is doing during the apocalypse is because I want to do a follow up story/series following one of the secondary characters after the apocalypse is over. I want to show how the world has been rebuilt with the few survivors and the struggles they have to go through.

    I appreciate the tip to focus on the characters, because I've been searching for ways to include all of the information about the rest of the planet, when really... I don't really have to tell all of it! I might throw in some snippets here and there I think.

    Are there any specific cliches I should avoid?

    I think I know one... NO PROPHECIES! Hah :)
     
  8. Sharie
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    Sharie Member

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    Well, I don't know if it would be helpful, but since you ask about post-apocalyptic books, you might try Gate to Women's Country by Sheri Tepper. It is set after some sort of extreme cataclysm (never really specified but not terribly pertinent to the story). How the survivors re-organize society was rather interesting, in my opinion.

    I agree with TWErvin2 about the likelihood of humanity surviving at this point without their toys, especially if they just up and disappear, poof. If you are proposing the technology be substituted with magic that the survivors might learn or be gifted, that might be an alternative but it does look a bit too much like Deus ex machina (did I spell that right?) to me.

    Just my thoughts - best of luck!
     
  9. jesscatlady
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    jesscatlady New Member

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    Thanks for the feedback Sherie!

    I see what you mean about the Deus ex machina and I am trying very hard to avoid that. I want to make it more about the characters' choice to "reset" the world after weighing the consequences (e.g. the destruction of man made structures and materials). In order for them to defeat the antagonist, the reset is their only option. Before doing the "reset" they will be trying to save as many people and as many resources (food, tools, books) as possible (by hiding them in protected places).

    Also, I do plan on using this new magic to partially replace technology, however I'm not quite sure how yet. I found an handy "Rules of Magic" worksheet and have by trying to work out all the kinks :) I'm leaning towards a Fantasy/Steampunk mash-up type of thing.
     

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