On Post Apocalypse And Writing Perspective,

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JustSarah
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On Post Apocalypse And Writing Perspective,

Post by JustSarah » October 24th, 2012, 3:08 pm

Do post apocalyptic stories necessarily have to be right at the collapse of society, or can they be on the brink of collapse? I'm doing something where after many wars, the armies of this one continent have almost completely folded to this superstate, and they are on the losing end of a war. It is a Uchronia dystopian novel.

Also, has anyone every used an extremely limited third person? Where you don't even know the thoughts of your characters? I was considering something like this in a second draft.

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Re: On Post Apocalypse And Writing Perspective,

Post by Claudie » October 24th, 2012, 10:40 pm

Honestly, I think whether your story is right before the collapse of society or after doesn't matter. Or, well, it's not what makes the story good or bad. I'd be careful with the "post apocalyptic" etiquette, though, since... well, if you're before the "apocalypse", it's hard to be post-apocalyptic.

As for third person limited? I wouldn't. The thing is that the more limited your third person is, the harder it is for your readers to connect. It can be done, but you're certainly adding a huge difficulty to your writing and story. If you're not a genius with Show Don't Tell, I'd think long and deep about it. It's hard to empathise and root for a character we never get to know.
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

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Re: On Post Apocalypse And Writing Perspective,

Post by JustSarah » October 25th, 2012, 12:49 am

Show and tell is something I can improve on though me thinks.<_< I used to be able to do it, I'm just a bit out of practice. Actually i guess showing, and not telling would be something your editor would help you with. I should be trying to show and not tell even if writing in first person.

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Re: On Post Apocalypse And Writing Perspective,

Post by Hillsy » October 25th, 2012, 5:05 am

Man I'm gonna look like that pedantic arse everyone knows at work, but......

Actually by definition, 3rd person limited is actually the opposite in this scenario. The "Limited" aspect of it actually refers to the READERS view into the world, and is counterpoint to Omniscient. In Omniscient, we see everything that happens, what everyone is thinking, from outside a strict POV. So something like:

"Dave slammed down the phone in frustration and turned round, using the far wall to turn his whiskey glass into a fine crystal rain. Back in Toronto Julie stared at the receiver as it sung a single monotone, like channel 37 after the schedule had ended...."

Because you head hop, you don't really get into the characters head, you get an over-arching narrative of events. Once you use limited you're limiting the scope of the narative to 1 characters POV, but this allows you to colour the world with his thoughts, character quirks, motivations etc etc etc. Therefore an EXTREME LIMITED would actually either be one where you only really see what's going on through the characters thoughts (rather than observations) or one where the character is out and out lying to you and the things you are seeing are really some kind of solipsistic fantasy. (Read "Waiting for Godalming" by robert Ranking - specifically the character of Lazlo Woodbine.....actually just read the book anyway - it's AWESOME!!!)

Ok - I'll stop being annoying now...

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Re: On Post Apocalypse And Writing Perspective,

Post by JustSarah » October 25th, 2012, 5:15 am

Then I don't really know what you call it then, when your not suppose to what the characters thoughts are. Only I'm suppose to know the characters thoughts. Edit: Ah here we go, Distant POV.

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Re: On Post Apocalypse And Writing Perspective,

Post by Sommer Leigh » October 25th, 2012, 9:18 am

JustSarah wrote:Show and tell is something I can improve on though me thinks.<_< I used to be able to do it, I'm just a bit out of practice. Actually i guess showing, and not telling would be something your editor would help you with. I should be trying to show and not tell even if writing in first person.
Get rid of this thought completely. When you submit your manuscript it has to already have all the right pieces in place. An editor is not going to help you with this. Manuscripts have to be pretty polished and clean before it ever goes to submission.

As far as your genre, it cannot be post-apocalyptic if the apocalypse hasn't happened yet. And keep in mind that it cannot be both dystopian and post-apocalyptic (well, it CAN, technically, if you get far enough out from the apocalypse that society has started to rebuild, but it's almost always more Dystopian or Post-Apocalyptic and is better described one way or the other.) These are completely different genres. Dystopian societies look great on the outside, but oppress a segment of its people in ways that strips some basic human right from them. Think Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs. A Dystopian society destroys some basic need on the heirarchy, but they do it under the pretense that it's good for society, that it makes it better. In fact, most dystopian societies are built to fix some escalating problem and their intentions are good. Rarely do you have a villainous goverment rubbing their hands together over all the wonderful ways it's going to oppress its people. No matter how they get that way, a dystopian society is a fully functioning one.

In the post-apocalyptic genre there is no society. There's no structure, culture, rules, or laws as we know them in a functioning society. While in a dystopian society there might be only one or two Maslow's Needs go unfulfilled, in a post-apocalyptic society ALL the needs are unfullfilled. Sometimes a sort of governing society might spring up amongst survivors, but it rarely fulfills the prime directives of a functioning society, which is where the crossover of dystopian and post-apocalyptic sometimes gets confused. There's a society in the Mad Max movie, but it's not a fully functioning one, fulfilling all the needs of its people. It's still post-apocalyptic.

Based on what you've told us, you might want to look at your plot for help on figuring out your genre, instead of setting. Figuring out your genre can be tough, especially when it stradles different lines. I'm great at genre, but I'm not so great figuring out POV but it sounds like some of the others have given you some good advice there! Good luck!
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Re: On Post Apocalypse And Writing Perspective,

Post by dios4vida » October 25th, 2012, 12:52 pm

JustSarah wrote:Then I don't really know what you call it then, when your not suppose to what the characters thoughts are. Only I'm suppose to know the characters thoughts. Edit: Ah here we go, Distant POV.
My question would be why do you want to write the story this way? Normally a character's thoughts and emotions and reactions are what helps bind them to the reader. If you strip all that away, you're setting yourself at a disadvantage. So before you do this, I'd suggest you know exactly what the benefits would be of writing this way. What would the reader gain from losing this perspective? What does the character know your reader can't? And would there be a better/easier/more effective way to accomplish those goals?

I'm not saying you can't do it. This is writing, anything is possible. But some things are exceedingly difficult to do. If you feel compelling that this is the best way to write this story, then go for it. But if there aren't a couple very good reasons to do it, you should consider going for a more traditional POV path.

I know nothing about the dystopian or post-apocalyptic genres, so I won't bog down the excellent opinions here with my own uneducated guesses.

Good luck, with whatever you decide to do!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: On Post Apocalypse And Writing Perspective,

Post by JustSarah » October 25th, 2012, 3:44 pm

Well i was also briefly considering a thought driven method. I don't know. I guess I'll see when the draft is done. I went ahead and posted up some post it notes on a poster board, and jotted down character things like, name, age, gender, character role, motives, passions, quirks.

Also, its not going to be a pure dystopian novel, or a pure post apocalypse novel. I'm going to try to write a believable and sympathetic religious character despite being not religious myself. Or rather more importantly her dad is religious. I have not decided if she's personally Catholic. The country is roughly half athiest, 25% protestant, and 25% Catholic.

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Re: On Post Apocalypse And Writing Perspective,

Post by polymath » October 25th, 2012, 6:41 pm

JustSarah wrote:Then I don't really know what you call it then, when your not suppose to what the characters thoughts are. Only I'm suppose to know the characters thoughts. Edit: Ah here we go, Distant POV.
This is third-person objective, the journalistic perspective where the circumstances of a drama are known to the narrator. If character thoughts are expressed, they are shown as expressed aloud or expressed by showing character emotional responses to causal stimuli and by subtext.
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Re: On Post Apocalypse And Writing Perspective,

Post by Sommer Leigh » October 25th, 2012, 6:57 pm

JustSarah wrote:Also, its not going to be a pure dystopian novel, or a pure post apocalypse novel. I'm going to try to write a believable and sympathetic religious character despite being not religious myself. Or rather more importantly her dad is religious. I have not decided if she's personally Catholic. The country is roughly half athiest, 25% protestant, and 25% Catholic.
I may be misunderstanding your comment, so if I am I apologize. Religion does not have any baring on a book being dystopian or post-apocalyptic. What makes up these two genres are pretty clear cut and from what you've shared, it doesn't sound like it falls into either group. That's ok! There's some current belief amongst agents that the dystopian genre trend is on the way out for a while.
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Re: On Post Apocalypse And Writing Perspective,

Post by JustSarah » October 25th, 2012, 7:01 pm

Sommer Leigh wrote:
JustSarah wrote:Also, its not going to be a pure dystopian novel, or a pure post apocalypse novel. I'm going to try to write a believable and sympathetic religious character despite being not religious myself. Or rather more importantly her dad is religious. I have not decided if she's personally Catholic. The country is roughly half athiest, 25% protestant, and 25% Catholic.
I may be misunderstanding your comment, so if I am I apologize. Religion does not have any baring on a book being dystopian or post-apocalyptic. What makes up these two genres are pretty clear cut and from what you've shared, it doesn't sound like it falls into either group. That's ok! There's some current belief amongst agents that the dystopian genre trend is on the way out for a while.
I just call it post apocalypse, because its set in a war torn country of sorts after the third world war. I just do that, cause I know its not going to fly as cyberpunk. What I was referring to is world development. Religion was on its way out by the year 2046. It might make more sense if I showed an outline later. (Then again my summary might give a better idea, its just a very rough version with some things changed)The main plot is a dystopian story, but there is a subplot of demonic possession in an earlier novella. (Connected Novella's)

Also, I started writing this novel before dystopian became a trend around 2007.

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Re: On Post Apocalypse And Writing Perspective,

Post by knight_tour » October 26th, 2012, 1:02 pm

JustSarah wrote:Do post apocalyptic stories necessarily have to be right at the collapse of society, or can they be on the brink of collapse? I'm doing something where after many wars, the armies of this one continent have almost completely folded to this superstate, and they are on the losing end of a war. It is a Uchronia dystopian novel.
In my sci-fi I set my story at the point when society at large is beginning to really recover from an apocalypse. It's fun to deal with an apolcalypse itself, but that's not what my story needed and I found it fun to consider how societies around the world might deal with piecing themselves back together again after a decades-long global collapse into anarchy.

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