1. KipDynamite
    Offline

    KipDynamite Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    5

    Theme Is this too cliché?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by KipDynamite, Jan 15, 2016.

    Are post-apocalyptic survival stories too cliché? The idea of a group of survivors trying to make their way in a broken world really captures my imagination, but I’m concerned that it has already been done to death. If I wrote such a story, I would obviously try to avoid all the standard tropes (zombies, mutants, preppers who conveniently have everything, etc.) I have a bunch of ideas swarming in my mind, and I just wanted to gauge whether or not they’re totally idiotic:

    · A pandemic that kills off most of the world’s population.

    · A nuclear war

    · A climate change catastrophe

    · A super volcano eruption



    I also have some more fantastical ideas:

    · Prehistoric monsters that come back from the dead and overtake the Earth

    · Extraterrestrial invasion


    Are these too cliche?
     
  2. Masked Mole
    Offline

    Masked Mole Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2015
    Messages:
    381
    Likes Received:
    284
    The prehistoric monsters one actually sounds really cool. What if there are creatures we thought to be extinct who have burrowed underground or something?
    As for the others, they sound kind of played out to me. I'm not an expert of the genre though.
     
    KipDynamite likes this.
  3. The Mad Regent
    Offline

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,024
    Likes Received:
    427
    Location:
    Wirral, England
    I believe there are two keys to this gate:

    1. Think up something truly original for the genre that redefines it in some way.

    2. Write a high quality version of the genre so it stands out among the rest.

    At the end of the day, though, write whatever takes your fancy. You can always just get a first draft down, stuff it in a draw, and then come back to it after a few months and see if it strikes a chord.
     
    KipDynamite likes this.
  4. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Post apocalyptic survival is a mainstay of Science Fiction and well predates the current fad of YA Dystopia. The Chrysalids (1955) being one example that pops to mind. Note that the current wave of YA Dystopia in post apocalyptic settings is deeply rooted in political messages first espoused by disaffected Gen-Xers and carried on into Millennials. These stories have a lot to say about how many Gen-Xers see Boomers. Check the general age of most of these successful YA dystopia authors and you'll see where they land, for the most part.

    Have something else to say besides "The Grown-Ups are selfish and evil and only care about the Youth as a means to prolong their generation's self-serving plans" and you'll have broken the mold. :)

    ETA: Other than this rather all consuming message in current YA, the other, much more general, thing that I find leads to cliché is when a genre falls in love with its props, to the point where the props are thought to be the thing itself.

    This Honest Trailer for The Maze Runner is meant to be funny, but it does point out how the props of the story are pretty much all there is to the story...

     
  5. KipDynamite
    Offline

    KipDynamite Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    5
    That's actually one of the ones that I'm toying with most, but I'm concerned that it sounds too much like one of those awful Syfy movies where basically no effort at all was put into it. What I was thinking was this...maybe it's like Jurassic Park, but it's gotten out of control on a global scale. For some reason, I keep getting this image of people hiding out underground, but I'm not sure if that's feasible.
     
  6. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    I did think of Jurassic Park, but who cares that the concept is similar? I mean, Jurassic Park was a huge success for a reason :D As long as the way you handle the concept is different, you're fine. As for whether something's feasible, as long as you make it make sense in your world, readers will generally go with the flow :) You could always research into what technology/facilities/tools might already exist today in case of an apocalypse etc and see if there's anything you could use or reinvent.
     
    KipDynamite likes this.
  7. Tenderiser
    Online

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    4,279
    Likes Received:
    5,147
    Location:
    London, UK
    All three of the premises you mention float my boat. I do think you have a problem, in that the first and last (post-apocalyptic survivors and alien invasion) are done too often and too often done badly. I will read *anything* that is based on these premises, but I usually give up within a few chapters because it's a disappointment. I'm totally with you on being sick of the same old characters in post-apocalyptic stories. If you can find a unique angle, and write it well, people like me will snap it up. :)

    #2 is most intriguing to me though, because it's not done as often and is fresher.
     
  8. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,821
    Likes Received:
    2,377
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I love Post Apocalyptic - even stupid hammy post apocalyptic movies. I never think the idea itself is cliché it's more the execution.
    Totally agree with Wreybies. You need to find something new to say or have as your theme. There's a lot of great retro fiction you might want to check out - No Blade of Grass, J.G. Ballard's apocalyptic visions - The Burning World, The Crystal World, High Rise, The Drowned World, The Wind from Nowhere. Here's a link to some more -

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalyptic_and_post-apocalyptic_fiction

    That may give you some ideas on how to make the idea your own.
     
  9. Sack-a-Doo!
    Offline

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    1,511
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    The first novel I wrote back in 1990 was a post-apocalyptic thing. I was told it had been done to death and don't bother trying to sell it.

    Since then, numerous post-apocalyptic stories have come along and some did rather well.

    So, I think it has more to do with what spin you put on it than with it being post-apocalyptic.

    I'd say, write your story and if the market is over-saturated at that time, you've got something for later after the smoke clears.
     
  10. Masked Mole
    Offline

    Masked Mole Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2015
    Messages:
    381
    Likes Received:
    284
    There are probably some prehistoric creatures that got no love in Jurassic Park, right? I haven't seen much of them. But there are probably some weird animals (backed by science or not) that you could research.
     
    KipDynamite likes this.
  11. Tenderiser
    Online

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    4,279
    Likes Received:
    5,147
    Location:
    London, UK
    OP, how about titanoboa wandering around the Everglades? :D
     
    KipDynamite likes this.
  12. Masked Mole
    Offline

    Masked Mole Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2015
    Messages:
    381
    Likes Received:
    284
    Indiana Jones: I hate snakes!
     
  13. Squeakyfiend
    Offline

    Squeakyfiend Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    5
    Between books, video games and films, there isn't really anything that hasn't been 'done' with regards to post-apocalyptic (or pretty much any genre for that matter).

    My advice: write what you want to write and write only for yourself. If others like it, that's a bonus. Don't worry about tropes or cliches if that's what excites you and gets your imagination going!
     
    KipDynamite likes this.
  14. Sack-a-Doo!
    Offline

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    1,511
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    And in a way, that's a good thing because if no one can be truly original, we all get to relax just a little bit. Pressure's off, so we can write what we want. :)
     
    Squeakyfiend likes this.
  15. Squeakyfiend
    Offline

    Squeakyfiend Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    5
    Exactly! :)
     
    Sack-a-Doo! likes this.
  16. Lucidity
    Offline

    Lucidity Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2014
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    4
    Currently I'd say yeah. It's something VERRRRYYYY popular atm. However I recently downloaded a "post-apocalyptic dystopia" from kindle and I found it rather refreshing and a good read. So aslong as you can write up a good story with challenges, goals and emotions which people can relate to with some complex characters I think it's not a problem.

    Besides, some people really love cliche's, since it can bring comfort reading something which feels "right" for what they think they should be reading.
     
  17. Sack-a-Doo!
    Offline

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    1,511
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    It occurs to me that maybe it isn't so much subject matter that becomes cliché, but rather stale treatment of well-known subjects.
     
    KipDynamite likes this.

Share This Page