Do you want to end a world?
Not this world; that would be messy. Not to mention, if you end the world, you don’t have anywhere to sell your stories. Or to buy coffee.
So let’s end some other world, shall we?
When I started writing Monster Godmother, I didn’t need to end the world; I already had the Faerie Apocalypse rather well set up. I already had lots of apocalypse settings, actually.
But say you need a tailor-made apocalypse for a story idea. Where do you start?
That’s a good question: where are you going to start? When is your story going to take place?
Some stories start before the apocalypse – think disaster movies. Day After Tomorrow. War of the Worlds. Some start in media res. 28 Days Later is the only one that comes to mind quickly. Some start just-afterwards, while you’re still reeling from the disaster. The book for Postman was like that. And some are so long afterwards that you’ve gotten new cultures. Waterworld.
Where are you going to start?
Faerie apocalypse, by the way, starts either 2000 years before the apocalypse or even further back, and, as of now, goes approximately 50 years into the future. Past is easier, what can I say?
If you’re going to start before or in media res, you’re going to need to know more about the apocalypse. If you’re starting long afterwards, you can fudge as much as you need to. And if you’re starting just after it, you’re going to need to think about the scope of your story.
Does your story span the whole world? Several worlds? Is it two people in a cabin? Six people in what used to be a city? Each of these requires a different level of backstory – for two people in a cabin, you only need to know that civilization has fallen. For a world-spanning story, you’re going to need to know what cities fell, which survived, and how much destruction is still going on – at a very minimum.
Monster Godmother takes part in the middle of a battle. If I’d been building the apocalypse from scratch, I wouldn’t have needed much – a couple notes here and there about nearby destruction. If I continued her story further… then, I’d have needed to build more.
And you? Well, if you want to ruin a world, you’ve got to do a bit of homework. Where does your story start? How much of a span will it have?
Once you have that (next time) we can talk about how we’re going to end the world.
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