Forums » Writing Workshop » Read Thread

Toss around ideas and brainstorm your story.

Is This a Good Intro?

5 years ago

So, I'm thinking of writing a post-apocalyptic story. (Yes, I know, you can all release the collective sigh.) At this point, I have the reason for apocalypse all thought out, and I have typed up an introduction. Forgive me for any typos, please, it is midnight after all! I would, however, just like some critical opinion and questions. So, here goes:


Eight hundred years.


Eight hundred years, nine months, and twelve days since they first landed.


The sun never stopped rising. The moon never stopped cycling. The tide never stopped ebbing or flowing. The birds and butterflies, whales and salmon– they never stopped migrating. And the people never stopped fighting. 


The world continued as it always had, even after they landed. That’s what a natural scientist would tell you. Not that we have those anymore, not really. There are no real “natural scientists" in a world with no science. Well, they have science. Never forget about them. Always gently probing outside of the neat little boundaries of their frontier empire, snatching the good Tribe-Folk and Kingdom-Folk and Republic-Folk away from their own families and people and into their grand cities, to be enslaved, or ogled at, or probed, or Gadd knows what. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. An introduction would be in order. Here is what happened, or what the closest things we still have to “historians” say happened. It may seem a bit nonsensical, but that’s because we still don’t have the details. We probably never will.


January 1, 2020. Two thousand-twenty, the big two-oh two-oh. The New Years’ Eve celebration was fantastic. The party after the ball dropped over Times Square was something for the ages. People smiling, dancing in improvised drunk jigs, kissing that certain someone with a 1989 Robin Williams commanding them to carpe diem. And that was the general feeling of the time: carpe diem. Well, that would be the last time, too. Everything changed that midnight, in New York and the world over.


The new year was hardly three hours old when it struck. Without warning, every satellite around the Earth was destroyed. Signal was lost instantaneously the world over. Minutes afterward, every store of weapons of mass destruction on the Earth– our only weapons to fight back with– was infiltrated. Squads of the invaders piloted silent, undetectable jetcraft to each location, all at the same time, coordinated exactly to the minute; if the WMD was located in a submarine, their craft could easily submerge and destroy the offending ship. Any military personnel who stood in their way was mercilessly slaughtered, incinerated or eviscerated by white-hot projectiles from the intruders’ rifles. The invaders’ jet-black armor covered them from head to toe, with only an opaque purple visor as a break from its sleek, insectoid uniformity; there was no penetrating the armor, and there were no true chinks to take advantage of. Only two invaders were killed on their mission, and then only because of concentrated heavy arms. Every WMD on Earth was destroyed. At the same time, the operatives sabotaged or destroyed almost every anti-WMD defense system on the planet.


The next morning, chaos ensued. GPS was gone, and with it, much of television, international timekeeping, a high-speed Internet, and location services. The world ground to a halt. What was left of interconnectivity was all spreading the news of one thing: aliens have destroyed our nukes. The BBC got its hands on the cadaver of one of the few slain “alien” operatives and unmasked it before the public. The face certainly did not look human. The clock struck 10:00, January 2. And with that, the invasion began.


Unbeknownst to the global public, several ships the size of large cities had suddenly appeared in Earth orbit the day before. They were the source of the quiet nighttime invaders, and they would soon be the source of the apocalypse. The ships let loose hundreds and hundreds of thousands of massive kinetic missiles onto the Earth as they orbited. Washington. New York. Beijing. Berlin. Amsterdam. New Delhi. Bangkok. Rio de Janeiro. Athens. Rome. Every major and half-major city on Earth, beginning with the largest and slowly working down to even those with 10,000 people or less, was systematically annihilated. Those few who fled or lived away from urban or suburban centers were safe. Those who did not or were not died. Billions perished within a day.


The details of what happened next are not clear. Suffice to say, the alien people settled. On every continent, they settled, and they seemed ready to conquer the globe. Nothing was stopping them. Nothing at all. But, all of a sudden, they stopped. They never crossed far beyond the Appalachians in North America or the Congo in Africa, and they mostly abandoned any semblance of presence in most other places. Nobody knows why. Anyone who wants to know is either killed or captured, and the captured never return. Eventually, the remaining people just grew to accept the strange Others who populated the boundaries of human civilization. Or, at least, its tattered remains.


It has been eight hundred years since those two days.


Eight hundred years, nine months, and twelve days since they first landed.


The sun never stopped rising. The moon never stopped cycling. The tide never stopped ebbing or flowing. The birds and butterflies, whales and salmon– they never stopped migrating. And the people never stopped fighting.


I'm thinking of actually stylizing it to seem like a narrator from the setting itself is telling the story. Put a bit of mythology into it. Is that a good idea, or could that be too confusing? I don't know. This is why I'm here for advice. wink

Is This a Good Intro?

5 years ago
Commended by EndMaster on 10/8/2017 6:32:15 AM

I'll start with saying the writing itself looks good to me, but I'm no expert. With that out of the way, here you go, heavily opinionated feedback.

This sounds to me a bit like the start of a film, rather than something you read. Mind you, this isn't necessarily bad, just a thought I had.
With that said, I personally don't really like the way you started this. I wasn't too sure why, so I thought about it and think it boils down to this:

1: Who am I?
I recognise not all storygames need to be written in second person, but as this narrator seems to be talking directly to someone I wonder who that someone is. It isn't explained within the writing, I assume it's another human who doesn't know whats going on, for some reason, and again the reason isn't explained.
I wonder if I'll be making choices for the narrator, or for the person they're talking to, or heck maybe an alien eavesdropping.

2: Movies are Linear.
This sounds like something that can end up being very linear, which isn't necessarily bad, just something I dislike.
I mean, if this narrator is telling a story, how does it branch? Something worth thinking about, heck you might have it all figured out but it just doesn't come through from what I've read here.

Notice a trend with the two above 'issues'? They aren't really issues, they'd get resolved by the reader simply continuing to read. I can't continue to read, there is nothing else here. So I guess I don't like your introduction because it left me on a cliffhanger... wait, pretty sure that's a good thing for an introduction.

Guess this means what I would appreciate being able to read whatever comes after this, because what you have here is mostly exposition. I'm not gonna question your exposition all that much because one, it's the future, and two, there are aliens. As long as you don't do something absolutely stupid it is pretty hard for me to go, 'no wait, that makes ZERO sense!'
However, here is one thing that stuck out to me personally, just a thought:

Space Insects!
I approve of the way you described the aliens, reminds me of the first book from one series I read, in it the 'invaders' weren't aliens, since it was fantasy... actually I guess that depends on your definition of aliens, because they came from another world. Anyway they had insects like armour (that's how I remember it).
Anyway, pretty nice that your aliens aren't literally just humans with better stuff... although I guess that would be an interesting plot twist. I guess the point I was trying to make is, sounds neat.

Any chance you could tell us what the 'story' the narrator will be telling is, just broadly, you don't have to spoil it. Just at this stage you pretty much described the setting without telling us anything about the story other than, well, the setting.

I think adding mythology is perfectly fine, heck it is pretty cool, just be careful with how you do it.
Like not everyone reading will have the same level of understanding regarding mythology, you don't want to confuse people when... idk some guy has the codename Loki so you know not to trust them but not everyone will know that without other hints (but to be fair I feel Loki is pretty well known these days, or at least a certain Loki).
I sorta went on a tangent there, guess I'm saying be careful with how you put mythology into it and it'll probably end up enriching the story.

Overall, this could end up being pretty great, and from what I read here it sounds like it is more likely to be good than bad, which is always a plus. So keep writing? Or maybe write a page and show it again?

I'd like it more if there was more to it (the story, not the introduction). As an introduction this looks good to me. You seem to have the setting well thought out which should help you out quite a bit. So keep writing.

If you want me to attempt clarifying something more, or to be a bit more specific regarding something in particular, feel free to ask/pm me. I feel this feedback is missing some important part, but I'm not sure which one!

Oh just noticed, your paragraph's spacing seems to be bigger than normal, so gonna assume you're using the Rich Text Editor. That's a whole other topic, so I won't ramble about it. Just be careful with the way you format your stuff, don't want it looking too weird (tho really you just want consistency, then it'll be all good). Presentation is important!

Come to think of it, you might have copy pasted this in from word or something, that can mess with formatting as well sometimes (it does for me at least, tho I use WordPad). Not sure why I felt the need to add this.

Is This a Good Intro?

5 years ago

Yeah, I copied it in from Pages. laugh 

The character is going to be a Tribe-Folk from the Ohio River Valley region, right outside the borders of the Others' borders on the Appalachians (they control most of the East coast.) The catch to the story is that you start out just in normal Tribe-Life to introduce yourself to the world– trading with cities, fighting off bandits, generally surviving– and eventually you can choose to do things as diverse as accumulating wealth, gaining political power over a city or your tribe, uniting the Ohio River Valley region, finding love, or exposing the secrets of who the Others really are. 

Oh, and thanks for the ideas! I think I'm going to edit it to be told to the character directly from a shaman-dude, like an oral historian some something.

Is This a Good Intro?

5 years ago
This sounds like it would be fun as heck to play but super complex and ambitious to write, best of luck with it, and keep us updated.

Is This a Good Intro?

5 years ago

Will do! And yeah, the spreadsheet is already insane, and I haven't even finished planning the first main story path and it's branch-offs. indecision

Is This a Good Intro?

5 years ago
Your actual writing is excellent on the technical level, so that's refreshing. I'd say this works just fine as an intro, but my hope would be that we'd switch to a POV character after this. I'm pretty sure my interest would wane reading pages of disembodied exposition.

My next question is, what is the story actually going to be about? Do you have your major branches in mind? The set up offers a lot of points to potentially explore, but at the same time seems to be just background.

Also, I'd recommend setting it quite a bit further ahead than 2020. Barring WWIII, or an actual alien invasion, if you manage to finish this people will still be reading it after that point.

Last point, a minor thing, but 'the world is without science' I feel is questionable phrasing. Has everyone gone completely tribal and believes in magic now? Even then there'd be 'science' to a degree. I'm assuming you meant they'd lost the ability to replicate modern technology.

Is This a Good Intro?

5 years ago

To start off, thank you so much for the compliment! I haven't edited it yet, but thanks anyways. smiley

For your first two paragraphs, please see my first reply in the thread. I think I answered it there, but feel free to ask any more questions. 

Good idea about the 2020 bit. I wanted to choose a date that seemed important while not making us too advanced. I think I'll bump it up to 2050.

And... yeah. That phrasing about the science bit is wanting. I meant to say that there was no rigorous science. Basically, our "science" is limited to endlessly copying what records we do still have and more ancient-Greek-sequences endeavors. For example, we still know about basic germ theory and how infections work, but we don't know how to make vaccines. We know the Earth is round, but that's only because of an Ohioan Aristotle figure re-discovering it. Et cetera


Is This a Good Intro?

5 years ago

I like feel of the introduction, it enforces that the universe continues without people. I love this idea of humans being crushed by the weight of the universe in some sort of grand scale natural selection. You have a gift for creating imagery that is powerful and I was riveted by the story. 

I don't know what the significance of the repetition is. Is the implication that humanity was given a second chance and evolved much in the same militant way they did the first time? Are the aliens going to be the "deities"? There are a lot of questions this intro raises that you can answer in the story. That's what a good introduction does. It makes the reader wonder what's going on in a good way. 

I think a good place to go from here is what the humans are generally like now. It seems as if they were bombed back into an age before scientific development, in which case it would be fascinating to see which knowledge is preserved and which is lost over time.

In terms of mythology, I don't think it would be too complicated, provided that you don't introduce the mythology as a massive information dump. If you start revealing the mythology as it becomes relevant to the culture and tie it into what's going on, I think it'll enrich the experience. For example, your character might be observing a new fertility ritual that might serve as a segue into talking about the diety of fertility. Just make their introduction organic, and they'll be memorable.

Personally, I think the really big draw for me is not the destruction of mankind as we know it, not necessarily the aliens that did the devastation, but how humanity adapts and is reborn through that. Do they find themselves subjugated by the aliens, or are the aliens just watchful protectors experimenting at creating a utopia? You have all the makings of a very compelling narrative and anything you can do that will give us insight into the state of humanity both culturally and physically would be welcome.