Post Apocalyptic Fiction [HOW TO...]

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SarcasticHawke489
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Post Apocalyptic Fiction [HOW TO...]

Postby SarcasticHawke489 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:01 am

Hey guys.
First of, I apologize if this kind of Topic already exists somewhere here.

So the story, as the title says is evolved around the fictional apocalyptic world. At least the base is the Apocalypse, and as in many Apocalyptic fictions there is almost always a journey of the characters. My characters do need to journey the apocalyptic dangerous world to get to their destination, but I am confused how to portray the 'journey' itself. Like, logically there appear questions: how they survive, how do they get food or where they find shelters to sleep before continuing their way. Personally, I think it is really unnecessary parts of the story, and I suppose it's very boring too (as long as it doesn't serve something important in the scene). Also, there are so many things going on, who would care about the details of these daily survivals? But for the sake of reality, I need to somehow convince the reader that the characters are not some supermen and women and they don't survive only with their fists and guns. (by the way, this is not another Zombie story :D)

How do I delicately show such smallest details without sounding too boring and unrealistic? I mean, I know how and when the characters get all their supplies, but I just don't know how to show it without circling around it. Is transitions good idea to avoid such problems?

P.S. If anyone could advice me a book of such genre to read, would be very appreciated.
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Brien Sz
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Re: Post Apocalyptic Fiction [HOW TO...]

Postby Brien Sz » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:40 am

For me, the best book in this genre is, One Second After by William Forstchen. Of lesser note, The Going Home series by A. American and even lesser than that the books written by James Wesley Rawles. Rawles' books tend to be how to's with a story somewhere in there. Another really solid book, it won the Pulitzer, is, The Road by Cormac McCarthy. These books are post apocalyptic without the zombies.

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cynicalwanderer
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Re: Post Apocalyptic Fiction [HOW TO...]

Postby cynicalwanderer » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:01 am

I'd suggest working the survival details into specific action scenes to make them more interesting:

- We need the food inside this ruined 7-11 store, but a slavering demon is asleep on the counter, how do we get past it?
- Every nightfall the acid rain comes down, and we need to find shelter before then but we're stuck out here in the open. Where to find cover without our usual abandoned homes to break into?
- This army base might have bullets to replenish our dwindling supply, but what if a vampire horde have overrun the place and will attack if we move in there out of the light?
- The monsters are coming, we need to light this campfire to repel them, but all the wood is wet and we're down to our third last match
- Will the medical supplies we desperately need for Wally's broken arm be inside this darkened pharmacy that could well be swarming with cannibalistic bandits?

Basically put a conflict block in front of every small, boring detail that you want to spice up. There might not be any physical conflict in a given scene, it might end up just being tension and suspense alone, the cornerstone of any good apoc fiction, but the main thing is you're transforming these mundane acts of survival into horrifying moments fraught with peril and fear.

Another thing to spice up a dull scene is if you can throw a bit of MacGyver ingenuity into the otherwise dull activity. Got hundreds of cans of baked beans and not a can opener in sight? Our hero demonstrates the trick of rubbing the metal over a piece of concrete until the lid has thinned enough to just squeeze and pop it.
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Re: Post Apocalyptic Fiction [HOW TO...]

Postby ostarella » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:04 am

I agree that the nuts and bolts of survival can be boring and don't necessarily add anything to the story. But what they can do is add to the realization of how difficult the journey is. So yes, have some problems arise that you can use the nuts and bolts to solve them - but make sure the problems are integral parts of the story. Don't just toss a problem in so you can show the nuts and bolts.

Another thought - and perhaps you've already done this - is to include minor, temporary characters to show what happens when the "team" doesn't know or understand the nuts and bolts. Let's face it - office workers who spend their off-time at The Club aren't going to realize that tennis shoes aren't going to last as long as boots, or that their fashionable raincoat isn't going to keep them warm at night. So have characters that you can kill off, or otherwise leave along the way. That allows the other characters to learn by mistake, and makes the reality of survival clear to the readers without a lot of exposition.

The other thing - one that really bugs in me in so many stories - is don't throw in the handy-dandy expert. That includes the rural citizen who obviously knows about survival. Farmers know farming - that doesn't mean they know about hunting. Hunters know hunting - that doesn't mean they know the difference between edible mushrooms versus the poisonous ones. Maybe they find a book or something about survivalists - but even those aren't going to tell them everything they need to know.

Basically, keep in mind the focus of your story - is it the survival, the journey, or the destination? That should help you decide how much of anything you need to include.
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