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August 6th, 2007, 09:35 PM
With the post apocalyptic type of fiction, there are really two ways to start. You can start after the incident and then fill the reader in on why this catastrophe happened, or you can start in the normal world and take the reader on a journey through the catastrophe.

Each has it's pros and cons... Which method are each of you more partial to, and what is the reasoning behind it?

Starting your story post-apocalypse give you the advantage of thrusting the reader into this world and leaves him questioning why this happened, whereas starting before the incident allow you to develop the situation with the reader.

August 7th, 2007, 07:55 AM
I'd imagine it will depend somewhat on the type of apocalyptic event. I'm a fan of the post method, throw the reader in, then slowly reveal what happened as you go along. I think if you want to get the event out of the way upfront though that's understandable.

August 7th, 2007, 08:55 AM
I suppose it really depends on the type of story you want to tell. If the story is about the apocalypse itself and its effects on the characters, then it would probably work best to start before and end after. On the other hand, if you just need a story to be set in a post-apocalyptic era, there's no real need to go into a detail description of how the world got that way.

August 7th, 2007, 08:58 AM
I would say post-apocalyptic is a setting, pre-apocalyptic is the beginning of a plot... which makes me wonder... would it be possible to do a story where the apocalypse is a sub-plot?

August 7th, 2007, 10:43 AM
My current WIP takes place 50 years after the bombs fell and wiped out the world. But I don't really go into it. People know that the world got nuked, but nobody is really aware of how or why it happened, and frankly, they don't really care. They're too worried about finding something to eat to care about world history.

There's many ways to go about it. They all have their advantages, but there's no real disadvantages unless how the world got that way is actually relevant to the story.

August 7th, 2007, 11:34 AM
In my current WIP, the main character and his partner both know that the end is coming, and they know when it is coming... they just don't know how.

They prep for whatever the end may be - it ends up being a nuclear catastrophe - but they don't know why it happened, and like the characters of your story, don't really care. They are just interested with trying to survive and make their way in the new world (after laying low for a few weeks while the radioactive fallout clears up of course).

The pre- approach shows the planning for the catastrophe, and then lets the reader ride through it with the characters.
The post- approach throws the reader into the world and then I have to show them that they knew this was coming...

August 7th, 2007, 11:38 AM
Just make sure that the plot is treated like one story. Don't have the pre and the post feel like two completely different books.

August 7th, 2007, 01:27 PM
Hi all. New user here, so please excuse the newbie-ness.

I agree. Up until recently, I wasn't even aware that a real distinction was made between pre- and post-apocalyptic fiction. I guess, for some readers, there's a major preference for one or the other, to the point of hating one of it's not pre or post enough ^_^

But as a writer, I think you can accomplish both. I agree with Shane that you can do both as long as you keep a tight focus on a singular storyline instead of creating essentially two different stories with two different feels. In my first novel, for example, it was all apocalypse, all the time. But the events leading up to it (remembered through a sequence of blurry flashbacks) kept informing the main character's decisions. And my current novel is mostly pre-apocalyptic, but there are dream sequences of an apocalypse that may or may not have happened. And these, again, hint at something looming, and hint at the decisions the main character must make (whether she realizes it or not).

Okay, I'm yammering.

ironchef texmex
August 10th, 2007, 01:18 PM
Each has it's pros and cons... Which method are each of you more partial to, and what is the reasoning behind it?

I'd have to say I'm partial to 'post'. More possibilities.

Apocalypses themselves all look pretty much the same to me. Whether it's war, or meteors, or bird flu, in the end it all boils down to a shell-shocked group of survivors fighting over the world's last cornydog.

Postapocalypses are where the fun starts (ie: starting the book a few years after most of the screaming is over). The allure for me is the notion of regressing civilization to a more primitive state, and the possibilities there are endless: tribal clans eeking out a living in the rubble, feudal city-states fighting over remaining resources... heck, take civilization away altogether and have your survivors living like prairie dogs trying to keep there heads from predators.

Chaos, is chaos, not that you can't make a good story out of it, but wait a few years -- or generations -- and the world is your oyster.... your reaaallly messed up oyster where everyone eats rats, fights with swords, and sits around worshipping the last working television as it belts out a rerun loop of Simpson's episodes. And all the faithful said in unison, "doh!" :D

Power to the J
August 13th, 2007, 12:01 AM
A great example of pre is THE STAND which has some of the best characterization I've read.

I think it depends on whether your characters are adjusting to the post apocalyptic world or living in it. That's the difference.