1. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    Making a "last man on earth" storyline - possible?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by michaelj, Jul 5, 2013.

    Hey, I watched an interesting thing on YouTube. A documentary on what would happen to the Earth if every person suddenly disappeared. There was some interesting things, such as animals escaping captivity and hunting in cities, floods, building decays etc. But my idea is, what if one man was actually left on the Earth? Yes, one.

    Would it be possible to do without boring the reader? He'd have plenty to do, survival and stuff but there would be no interactions with other people so all the dialogue would be in his head.

    Has it been done before?
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    The documentary that I think you were speaking of is based on a book called The World Without Us. It is a fantastic book that I think everyone should read -- very thought provoking. It is non-fiction, but yes, it provides some very interesting scenarios for some sort of book of this type.

    I think a novel of the type you're talking about is a basic dystopian, post-apocalyptic type of story, that obviously has been done.

    It is tough to do from the viewpoint of a singular person. Most of the stories I've seen of this type either end up with the character finding at least a few other people who have survived, or have the character writing into a diary of some sort.
     
  3. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    I'm thinking of chapters: one day, one week, one month, one year, five years etc.

    It would be very hard to keep it interesting with one character and I imagine he'd descend into madness and probably hallucinate people or something. I suppose there could be dialogue through flashbacks, dreams etc but I think that'd grow tedious.

    Btw, yes, I know the post-apocalyptic story has been done but ever from a single person perspective?
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know whether it's been done. Why don't you try writing it and see? Write a couple of chapters and assess how you feel about it. It is potentially very interesting, although, as you point out, there are pitfalls.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Different versions have been done. Doesn't mean a new version can't be fresh and creative. Sorry I don't know any literary examples.

    Twilight Zone had a man who hated people, he comes out from a basement and finds the world destroyed, and he's ecstatic because he plans to read books for ever. It ends with his reading glasses breaking.

    There have been a couple versions involving a man and a woman who eventually find each other, don't speak the same language, then the Adam and Eve cliché plays out.

    And I haven't seen the movie yet but there's the survival movie out with Will and Jaden Smith returning to an Earth with no humans left. You'll need to be careful not to make the story seem like fan fiction.
     
  6. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    [MENTION=38553]chicagoliz[/MENTION]
    The idea is definitely on my list. I just need to finish this other story I've been doing.

    [MENTION=53143]GingerCoffee[/MENTION]
    I think I know what you're on about. The film was a zombie apocalypse and was based on a novel from the 50s with vampires.
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    No, that was "I Am Legend", an older movie, where Will Smith survives, has a dog, meets more survivors eventually. I actually read that book as well as saw the movie. The movie I was talking about was, "After Earth". It's currently in theaters here.
     
  8. cobaltblue
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    cobaltblue Member

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    I remember reading a book in high school called 'Z for Zachariah' which was post-apocalyptic written from the POV of the one girl who had survived. She has a dog to interact with, I think the story is written as a diary (but I could be wrong) she sees someone approaching her valley, she hides but he finds her and they have some interaction.
     
  9. Makeshift
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    Makeshift Active Member

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    I remember reading somewhere that when the Soviet Union disbanded, the cosmonauts on the Mir-station at the time were worried about what country they would be returning to. I think that would be a good premise: the main character could be an astronaut who returns to find everyone else dead, or perhaps even has to witness the global catastrophe from space. Like Planet of the Apes without the primates. Ultimately these type of stories would probably work better as short stories instead of novels. Like people said, some dialogue could still exist through flashbacks, dreams, hallucinations etc.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not long ago I read a short story of "the last man on Earth" (after all, how can you really be sure?). All the others had left for a "New Earth", and the one left behind did so by choice, not tragic circumstance.

    There are always different ways to tell a story. Some relay on a twist, but the best work on multiple levels: character, theme, conflict, imagery, etc.
     
  11. Savant
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    The closest I've read was a novel called "The Quiet Earth" by Craig Harrison, first published in 1981. In this story there is a 'sole survivor' - for a time. The author explores what you talk about (would you go mad alone). However, to move the story along, a couple other people are found. Another man and another woman. Check out the wiki page on wikipedia if you want a summary, but beware it will spoil the book if you are considering reading it.
     
  12. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    It is actually a pretty old concept. So old, in fact, that Mary Shelley already did it. Yes, that one.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Man

    This sort of story has been done in film, which usually needs dialogue, to some extent. See Castaway and the first half of Wall-E. It is doable, but unless there's a twist, it has been done before.
     
  13. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    Thanks guys.

    I suppose, it'd be near to impossible to find a story that hasn't been done before. And yes, it'd probably suit a short story or novella more than a full novel.
     

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