1. TheSerpantofNar
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    TheSerpantofNar Active Member

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    Post apacolyptic settings and atmosphere

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by TheSerpantofNar, Sep 13, 2012.

    Im trying my hand at post apacolyptic fiction im trying to figure out how depressing I should make it. I recently watched The Road it was a bleak,bleak movie but I loved its gray,over cast atmosphere im trying to figure out what I should do as I might make it too bleak.
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I liked the movie the Road too, the only thing I didn't like was it's lack of hope. The man didn't seem very hopeful,
    he was like an animal moving only on instinct. I'd keep the atmosphere bleak, the situations bleak but maybe keep
    your characters hopeful that somewhere it will be better or something will change.
     
  3. ArtWander
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    ArtWander Contributing Member

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    Personally, I am a HUGE fan of Post-Apocalyptic settings, because I feel like the stories really just write themselves. It's almost as if the terrain is a living character in this genre, and I don't find that in many other genres.

    It's really up to you as far as the destruction/bleakness is concerned. How long has it been since the cataclysmic event? What sort of event took place? Obviously the setting is going to look very different between a zombie outbreak and a giant tsunami. I'd say to go wild with the disaster. For example, in the giant tsunami example. Long tendrils of dried seaweed coating buildings. Rotting fish and other oceanic llife. Constant fog as a reminder of the extreme humidity.

    Hope that helps :)
     
  4. mla100
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    mla100 New Member

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    I hated 'The Road' Viggo Mortensen's character just came across like a b**ch and I couldn't relate at all. I found myself indifferent to whether he and the boy survived or not. Post apocalyptic is something I am working on too. I think you can go as dark as you want with slow painful deaths due to radiation sickness because it is something people genuinely fear and the darker the better in my eyes.

    As long as your characters are strong and clear on their objectives then you can pretty much do as you please. I think your main problem is the scale of destruction. I believe that although Nuclear war would decimate the planet, certain places would be relatively unscathed as countries missiles would only be aimed at threats. In my opinion that would leave most of the South of Africa quite in tact and a lot of the Scandinavian countries too. The scope for this typr of thing is very large so you need to pick your place and time carefully and not lose track of where you are and why your there.

    Best of luck.
     
  5. shaunplus
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    shaunplus Member

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    I'd kinda go dark and pioneer-y, almost. A post-apocalyptic event would basically take our race back to the middle ages.
     
  6. EricaJRothwell
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    EricaJRothwell Active Member

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    I love post apocalyptic settings. I dont think they always have to be bleak. In the countryside for example, if it has been almost untouched by the disaster the sun will still shine through the threes as it always has. (depending on the disaster). I also have this idea that an apocalypse wouldn't nessersarily be a bad thing. It would had first and while humanity are coming to terms with everything they've lost and trying to piece together a new life but once they have it could be a much better world, less pollution, less people, no government, etc.

    Getting back to your original question, you can convey the bleakness through the characters perspectives. Think about your disaster, do some research on what would happen. For instance, nature would start to take back cities pretty quickly without our presence to maintain it. Stillness, quiet, open empty roads, etc
     
  7. serowden
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    serowden Member

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    This largely depends on the magnitude. A post-apocalyptic event could wipe out our species, change the climate, or entirely blow apart our planet. A celestial object could crash down into Earth, blowing off a huge chunk of it, and leaving alien elements that would change life on the planet forever. There's really no end to the magnitude of devastation that could happen, and what sort of development, age, and technology our species would regress to should it survive is entirely speculative.

    You could present it as dark and bleak, but you could also present a very alternative approach, with a society whose generation never knew of life before, who are happy and content with the present. You could even elaborate that their will to live and other positive things led to survival.

    Shrug. Dark post-apocalyptic is great, but don't think about it as though you are tied to cliches.
     
  8. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    I know this isn't a novel per se, but the video game series Fallout is probably one of the better post-apocalyptic settings I've seen. It's dark at times, sure, bleak even, but I wouldn't say it's entirely depressing. One of its main themes is that "war never changes," to highlight how, even after the large nuclear war that destroyed modern society, people still go around trying to kill each other and try to take advantage of each other. So in a sense it's not so depressing as it's cynical, just saying how man's nature never changes. On the other hand, the atmosphere changed in different games in the series; Fallout 3, for instance, was definitely brooding, with nothing but destruction all around; Fallout New Vegas, on the other hand, was, while not necessarily lighter, a little more hopeful I think, and not as brooding as Fallout 3.

    I dunno if that really helps, it probably won't, but I hope it gave you an idea or two.
     
  9. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    funny thing I've been working on a book with a theme kinda like that except its fantasy (sky is overcast all the time with grey clouds with ruins all over the place). big tip: temperature and color do a lot to set the mood -say a cold, howling wind tearing through the character's clothes to numb their body to the point where they feel hopeless -as if they are becoming the land which feels the same way.
     
  10. TheStarChild
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    TheStarChild Member

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    Some depression is fine and should be expected. Don't go too far, though, because readers won't be able to relate and will lose interest. The one thing humans do better than any other species is adapt. At the core of adaptation is hope - hope that, one day, things will be better. The characters have to have hope to keep moving forward.

    Something to keep in mind.
     
  11. Meteor
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    Meteor Active Member

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    I recently watched an animation called Casshern Sins. The entire series was pretty bleak with almost nothing aside from dead landscapes. On occasion though our characters ran into beautiful flower filled fields. Even with a nuclear war there will still be places untouched by radiation, probably deep valleys, and it doesn't even have to be nuclear. Post apocalyptic already designates your work as a type of fantasy so play with it a little. Could it have been an asteroid like what wiped out the dinosaurs? One large enough could easily choke out much of the world's life. It could be decades(or longer)before plant life ever starts growing again. Remember though about the environmental aspects. Unless everything is constantly covered in clouds you'll still have sunny days. How does that make the character feel? Why do they feel that way when its sunny and not gloomy with dark clouds? Perhaps your character has the opposite reaction, disliking sunny days and preferring cloud filled days. Should everything be barren in your story sunny days could be pretty depressing with no shade or anything to cool off under during summer months. Another thing to consider is how often your character runs into other people or destroyed cities and the like. Are these people violent and angry or hopeful? Are these cities just completely deserted or is everything just run to the ground with nothing left standing? Lastly, as I keep seeing posted, what drives your character? Is it hope or is it something else? Is your character(s) looking for something in particular? Is he(or are they)just trying to survive or is there something that gave them hope to keep going? Rumors about an isolated place that's safe and untouched could give someone the hope and determination to keep going for sure. I think the biggest thing though is not leaving your character alone all the time. One survived so there has to be more unless you've set yourself up for just one survivor. Humans weren't meant to be alone so contact every so often would be a great aspect to consider. There is a lot you can do with this type of writing and there are a lot of things to consider. Just take your time and consider the factors.
     
  12. lawnman
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    lawnman Member

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    I don't know if you would care to do this, but I have always wanted to either read or write a post-apocalyptic story with a lot of dark humour put into it. Not that it couldn't be bleak, but have the main character dealing with a lot of absurd situations and people. If you think about it I don't think its too much of a stretch to think that a lot of people going through a situation, or possibly from radiation exposure, like that wouldn't go insane.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, you could say Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is such a book. After all, it begins with the utter annihilation of the Earth.
     
  14. lawnman
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    Yes, I've read that, but I am more meaning a book where the character is still in the desolate and depressing nuclear waste.
     
  15. Sniper
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    Sniper New Member

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    John Hersey's "Hiroshima" is a true account of what happened in the city of Hiroshima following the dropping of the atomic bomb. It's noted halfway through the book that although the city is deserted, wildflowers are growing through the cracks in the pavement and are more beautiful than they have been before, in spite of all the waste and destruction around them. I always found that an interesting note, which few post-apoc. stories ever seem to touch on. And sometimes the smallest things are the most depressing; Fallout 3 captures that brilliantly. Having abandoned toys lying around amongst skeletons is one of their better touches.

    I think it depends upon the theme you want in the story more so than the character, because the character is used to explore the theme. If you want hope, you can balance out the bleakness. If you want cynicism and depression, you may be going too far - but then you have to consider if there really is such a thing as too bleak. That last bit is up to you.
     
  16. Sniper
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    Sniper New Member

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    John Hersey's "Hiroshima" is a true account of what happened in the city of Hiroshima following the dropping of the atomic bomb. It's noted halfway through the book that although the city is deserted, wildflowers are growing through the cracks in the pavement and are more beautiful than they have been before, in spite of all the waste and destruction around them. I always found that an interesting note, which few post-apoc. stories ever seem to touch on. And sometimes the smallest things are the most depressing; Fallout 3 captures that brilliantly. Having abandoned toys lying around amongst skeletons is one of their better touches.

    I think it depends upon the theme you want in the story more so than the character, because the character is used to explore the theme. If you want hope, you can balance out the bleakness. If you want cynicism and depression, you may be going too far - but then you have to consider if there really is such a thing as too bleak. That last bit is up to you.
     
  17. sharonwagoner
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    sharonwagoner Member

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    Have you seen the TV series Jericho? Perhaps you would find some inspiration there or at least some things you do not want to do.
     
  18. PraileighCormac
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    PraileighCormac New Member

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    Think Outside the Box

    You're setting doesn't necessarily have to be a Wasteland. It could be some calm place untouched, but very harsh and hard to live in.. so not many people lived their before whatever your cause of destruction happened, and that's why they're untouched, but its could be cold and still have the grey and the harshness.
     
  19. Spiderman
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    Spiderman Member

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    I just thought of an idea for a post apocalyptic setting. The world, could, at one point, have been peaceful, but, an alien invasion/portal caused a race of monsters to swarm the world and destroy most everything in it's past. That's been happening for centuries. Now, the world is dystopian and still under threat by the dark species.

    It's a cliche to have a "wasteland", almost everyone is gone type world. It's better to have it semi-apocalyptic, dystopian.

    There could be a threat to the world at one point though, or at many times.
     
  20. Showpony
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    Showpony New Member

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    How bleak you make it depends a lot on the themes that you're trying to explore with the story. Is it a hopeful book about new beginnings? Is it a book about desolation, loneliness, and the loss of hope? Is it a horror?

    The Road was written by Cormack McCarthy (an absolutely brilliant writer, IMO). I didn't see the movie, but the book is fantastic. The overall theme of the book is what it would take for a person to lose hope. It's bleak, maybe one of the bleakest things I've ever read, but that's the whole point. Could you survive in that environment, living like an animal, and maintain a shred of hope? What would you be hoping for? What would it mean to give up hope? What does it mean to have a child, if you don't have any hope at all?

    The bleakness in that story wasn't to entertain anyone. It was to support the character development and tell the story.

    So, you need to ask yourself what your story is about. You're telling a story. You get to choose the characters and setting that help you tell it. If you need devastation and bleakness, make it so. If you need wildflowers sprouting through the sidewalk cracks in Hiroshima, make it so. If you need an idyllic countryside bereft of human civilization so that your pair of young lovers can begin again in a New Eden, you can make that too.

    To me, the story is everything, and everything serves the story.
     
  21. muscle979
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    muscle979 Member

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    Who doesn't love a good post apocalyptic story? In a time where people in the western world have grown accustomed to an unprecedented level of luxury it is interesting to imagine what it would be like if all of that went away and the average person was forced to do things they never would have imagined doing just to stay alive.
     
  22. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Post apacolyptic settings are generally bleak and filled with danger, stress and suffering. Often there is hope and courage and determination mixed in.

    A good example of an apacolyptic book (not post, but as it's actually happening) is One Second After by William R. Forstchen. Reading it may give insight to the set up for a post apacolyptic work. His novel shows suffering, pain, upheaval, strife along with some hope and determination.

    The novel chronicles a year of struggle by a small North Carolina town after the USA and other parts of the globe are struck by EMPs, wiping out all electricity and everything that contains a microchip of any sort--as realization strikes the population, leading to panic, martial law, suffering (no medications, food, violence, etc.) and the struggle to survive with no help coming.
     
  23. .Mark
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    .Mark Member

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    There's an excellent program out now called "Life After People", which portrays how nature would take back our planet if humans were no longer around. Very informative stuff
     
  24. IanLC
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    IanLC Member

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    There are several scientific approaches and their distinct environments as well as several religious approaches and ideas on the apocalyptic.
     
  25. Breasbooks
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    Breasbooks Member

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    I am currently pursuing an agent for a post apocalyptic book I have written. I have been hooked on them ever since reading Stephen Kings Tower series. I think it is most interesting to compare how people would react. For example, a person who grew up in the country would react and survive very differently then someone who grew up in a city. Things like being able to garden or hunt would become invaluable. As well as a shear will and determination to survive.
    @Mark, that show is amazing. Both because of the images of the world without us and because it teaches you just how much we humans do for the strangest things (who knew how much work it took to keep so many things from dissolving before our very eyes!).
     

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