Monday, 6 May 2013

Creative Writing Tips: After Effects

Applies to Fantasy, mostly.

   Consider the after-effects that will occur following the end of the plot. Once the enemy is vanquished and his plans are ruined, what will happen then? A lot of books don't address it - it's not always necessary, but it can give some nice closure for you as a writer to know what happened to your world afterwards, and can help tie the book to an end. I don't much like books that sees the end of the plot, and then that's it. I like to know what happens next. This can sometimes be put in the Epilogue instead of the book. I've always felt they were optional to read anyway, so they don't have to have an affect on the book if you wanted to end it in a certain way, and often stand apart from it a little - narrated in a different way, by poem or suggested as being in a book within the story world itself, or perhaps recounted in a different person. It can also often be some time in the future when things have settled down and looks at not just immediate after-effects, but also what came of it in the long-run.
   This is usually dependant on the size and scale of the plot - who it affected, and what was done to divert it.

   Plots like the destruction of the One Ring involved more or less the entirety of Middle Earth. It layed to rest the biggest threat Middle Earth had ever seen, and called upon allies from all over and within the land. Even trees. Once the threat was dealt with, new alliances had been forged, and old ones had been rebonded. A new King ascended a throne, and Hobbits were suddenly a race known by all, even if they preferred that they weren't. Needless to say, there was a lot that needed to be settled back down after that, and would surely take some time, rebuilding what had been destroyed, mourning the lives of those who were lost, and generally trying to restore order, and their lives to what they had been.
   Plots such as those of Assassin's Creed, on the other hand, only seemed to openly affect the Assassins and Templars - as far as ordinary people were concerned, nothing was really disrupted. A few people were killed, but conflict was brewing so it was expected. People were lost on both sides, however, Assassins and Templars, and each side would have to recover from that. It's unlikely alliances would have been made, but if they had, they would have done so in secret to prevent the other side from finding out about it and trying to buy their new allies away from them, or trying to counter it. Life would have continued as usual for 95% of the people in the locations that saw the events happen.

   If a war happens, which is not unusual in fantasy, then the after-effects would probably have something to with alliances, rebuilding and restoring life. What you need to figure out is whether they are lasting alliances, and what they will bring with them, such as better trading. Lasting alliances could, in fact, bring negative impacts due to mistrust from some long distant past between the two peoples, and if the alliance doesn't last, do the two factions regard eachother neutrally, do things go back to normal, or do things, in fact, get worse?
   How long does it take to rebuild the settlements that were destroyed? Will there be a memorial? If figures of great enough importance were killed, or if the event was significant enough, is there an annual ceremony to honour the dead and the selfless deeds they did for the good of their country, their race, or the world? And if people of great enough importance were killed, are their successors anyone of note, perhaps subordinates who had a leading part in the book, alongside the man protagonist? And how are they coping?
   Thinking of the after effects could create a sequel, though perhaps one placed in a later time. The story is, afterall, most probably finished, but if one of the sub-characters are in an interesting enough position, that could create a new opportunity to get some more work out of a well-created world, but an entirely new plot. Of course, what is difficult in this case is aging your character and giving them years more experience in the blink of an eye, and throwing them into a different situation than before. Giving them that experience can change their personality - they could become depressed, more serious, or perhaps cynical and so on, but you also have to keep them the same character. Experiences can change people, afterall.

   Romance is another point, though a slightly more minor one, because it's not something that people are as likely to question the outcome of. I know that I, personally, am more interested in the state of grander affairs than that of a romance, but that might also be because I'd like to maintain the idea that it all worked out nicely and they got married and lived happily ever after, but life doesn't always map out like that. However, if a book has a large focus on a romance, then it might be something you want to touch on. Does it last? Does it unfold into something more? Or does it completely fall apart for one reason or another?

   Most of this could be quite happily added to the end of the book as an epilogue if you don't quite know how to link it in, and, as I said before, they could be set a year or so in the future to see how things have panned out. Alternatively, putting all of this into a final chapter gives you the opportunity to go into more detail, perhaps with conversations between key individuals, or seeing one or two of them tending to their new duties if they're in new positions, or perhaps the same old same old if they chose to go back to their normal life.


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