For horror writer’s like myself, these kinds of posts are perfect. They not only offer insights into the dark minds of other horror writers, but also offer advice and inspiration to fuel our own writing. What follows is Sam Mortimer’s lowdown on getting a feel for writing dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction.
Let us count the ways civilization could fall, and how humanity would be doomed to a broken existence. That’s typically what writing dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction entails, no? Coolly put on your favorite sunglasses and view the world darkly, because there’s a plethora of material burning with nuclear intensity.
I love dystopian and/or post-apocalyptic scenarios, but only in fiction. In reality, a dystopian or post-apocalyptic environment would abysmally, for lack of more vulgar terms, suck. In Screams The Machine, society’s fall and entrapment begins with a sickness carried by currency. The world becomes more violent. The Solution, a worldwide organization, offers answers and safety, but they will own your mind. That’s some tough luck plucking your knuckles right there, but a smidgen of hope still shimmers; in order to free yourself, you have to go stone-cold turkey from technological addictions you didn’t even know existed.
Here are the first ten methods to help get a feel for some dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction. Though, I’m sure there are at least 101 ways for society to damn itself:
1 – Seek a scary truth and ask, seriously, how many ways can civilization crumble? There’s more than one way. In Screams The Machine, a factor is disease spreading through money. Addiction plays a part, and suppressed emotions become monsters.
2 – Figure out where technology is heading, learn about who has potential to control it. For example, when artificial intelligence can be a viably employed, did you know they could be considered intellectual property? What jobs will they take from humans? Gee, I’m sure AI will be pretty efficient at math, for starters.
3 – Find out what survival products are currently available. Is it wise to stock them? For instance, water filters. How would these products prepare an individual for any sort impending doom?
4 – Visualize the best parts of your life, conveniences, the beauty of human-made structures and nature. Destroy it all in your mind, then, try to live in it. This happens in a different sort of way in Screams The Machine. Convenience is specifically targeted. Convenience does not exist without The Solution.
5 – It’s important to know what hunger feels like beyond that little stomach growl before lunch. See what mood that puts you in, or how weak you feel. Then observe what actual starvation does to people. Starvation kills. It’s not a game; it’s not that little stomach growl before lunch.
6 – Know desperation, emptiness. In a dystopian or post-apocalyptic world, what would keep you going? Why?
7 – Wonder what’s like to not take a bath for a while—please, for everyone sakes, take a bath or shower though.
8 – Treat yourself to a related video game, like Fallout 4, for post-apocalyptic survival. Watch Blade Runner for a ride through a dystopian vision. Those are good examples to learn from.
9 – Read the best books in the genres. What are their premises? Figure out what you can add.
10 – Learn about yourself. Peer deep into the figurative mirror. Who are you? Listen to REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” on repeat. Kidding. There’s a dark truth to dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. Both styles magnify painful aspects of human nature and existence, realizing the same human needs and fears that connect us create schisms. Why? I think dystopian fiction digs down to the core and unearths some hideous actualities, albeit in an interesting and entertaining way.
Check out Sam’s latest publication!
Cash carries a disease; one that’s already killed a large majority of the population and something needs to be done. To stop the crisis from escalating, The Solution (a worldwide organization) is formed and rises to great power. They monitor people’s dreams and shape reality to fit their own wants and needs. In an effort to control existence itself, The Solution is searching for what they believe to be the ultimate tool; a person with the ability to master a deep connection with the mysterious, pervasive energy known only as The Ultimate Reality.
Watching her neighborhood decay, her friends and family perish, Elizabeth Reznik needs to find meaning in her life. She discovers her existence is more meaningful than she could ever have imagined. Operatives of The Solution seek her out, take her from her home and perform brutal experiments on her. Their conclusion? Elizabeth is the one they have been searching for; she is the key to gaining complete power.
The stratagem of The Solution is single minded – own the resources and you own the people. And the last resource available is free will. They will own your thoughts, they will orchestrate your dreams; they will dine on your fears. But there is always a cog in the machine… or in this case, a scream.
Sam Mortimer has worked the graveyard shift in law enforcement, attended film school, and has been writing strange stories since age eleven. He loves reading, music, and strives to meet the demands of his five cats.
Thank Sam for sharing his damn fine
writing insights with us!