Where to Start – How About the End…?

So, what would the end of the world look like?

We live in crazy times (haven’t we always!). Wars rumbling on in the background of the West’s consciousness (Yemen), or wars that the world looks at but does nothing about (Syria), politicians who promote division to bolster and their own egos, gun crime, knife attacks, cars used as weapons…I could go on. The end of the world could come in many forms, but societal breakdown and the end of civilisation is probably more likely than being struck by a giant meteorite (I hope I’m not tempting fate there!). Amongst all this doom and gloom it is important to remember that for the majority of people living on this planet, life is much better than that.

Our perception of the state of the world is seriously eroded largely by negative press – camera crews and news reporters try to find the most appalling incidents to make the public tune in. That is essentially their job. Of course, it’s human nature to seek out bad news, but it’s important to remember that positive things are happening all the time that are never reported.

Just like the news reports, fiction often visits the darker side of the human condition (or not-so-human, depending on your genre). It is essential for the development of a plot for ‘something’ to happen. That ‘something’, or ‘trigger’, is necessary for events to take place and a story to unfold, and rarely is it something pleasant.

To write a story it can be quite difficult to actually begin, or ‘put pen to paper’ as the cliche goes. Sometimes it can be good to start with a dramatic event to draw people in, or at least a line or two to pique their interest or create bemusement. Something, anything to grab the reader and make them want to read on.

Another way to start is to imagine the ‘trigger’ event and work backwards. Think about what would lead up to the event taking place, or how and why the main character is involved or affected by it.

This is all well and good, but how to come up with the ‘trigger’ in the first place? Some people use random words, or suggested opening lines, or they look in the newspapers and magazines then extrapolate their own variations on the stories they read. Another way is to find an arresting image and to create a story that leads up to, or runs away from, what is pictured. That’s where this post comes in – hopefully.

The end of the world is a pretty dramatic event and has been illustrated numerous times throughout history – in art, literature and on film. The images below are interesting because they fuse photography and painting to create believable scenes (they digitally fuse the two media to create impossible ‘photos’). Created by Michal Karcz (an artist form Warsaw, Poland), his images appear to encompass post-apocalyptic, alien or parallel worlds and alternative futures/pasts. They could be a good starting point for a story/

What would you write inspired by these pictures? Or what do you use as a trigger for your stories?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is michal-karcz-parallel-worlds-digital-art-designboom-02.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is michal-karcz-parallel-worlds-digital-art-designboom-05.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is michal-karcz-parallel-worlds-digital-art-designboom-06.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is michal-karcz-parallel-worlds-digital-art-designboom-010.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is michal-karcz-parallel-worlds-digital-art-designboom-04.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is michal-karcz-parallel-worlds-digital-art-designboom-07.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is michal-karcz-parallel-worlds-digital-art-designboom-09.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ezgif.com-webp-to-jpg.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ezgif.com-webp-to-jpg-1.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ezgif.com-webp-to-jpg-2.jpg

I originally discovered these images a few years ago on the designboom website at this address.

‘The Cenotaph of Dreams’ by Prince Cavallo

I have an announcement to make.

This is not really the sort of thing that I do at all. Generally I write about oddities and obscurities that interest me on this blog. I don’t really do self promotion, via any medium, let alone broadcasting to the world through the power of the internet – but here goes (let’s hope someone sees it!).

Announcement:- I have written a book of extremely short stories called ‘The Cenotaph of Dreams‘ (Amazon UK). Here’s a link to the Amazon.com page:- Cenotaph of Dreams. It is available as an e-book and also as a proper actual physical paperback book (I really can’t believe it!).

There we go. I’ve said it. It’s taken years of procrastination and writing and more procrastination, but finally I’ve done it, I’ve published something that people I don’t know can actually read. Scary stuff!

The book consists of twenty-eight experiments in brevity, with each story precisely one hundred and fifty words long; but where there is an economy of words, there is an excess of imagination.

In ‘The Cenotaph of Dreams‘ someone is buried and something is dug up, not all weather is meteorological, and you should be very wary of your pets. It is at turns phantasmagorical and unsettling, with close relations to the strange story, the weird tale, time travel, dreampunk (maybe, maybe not!), the uncanny and probably a host of other sub-genres of speculative fiction.

To acquire your twenty-eight doses of flash fiction the medication can be purchased for as little as £1.45 for the e-book and only £3.75 for the full strength paperback (which is, of course, the recommended prescription).

Here’s a link to the author’s page (Amazon UK), or here for Amazom.com – it contains the book in both formats and a short but revealing biography. By the way, I would be extremely grateful for any re-postings, mentions, shared links, tweets, reviews, or simply passing this on to someone who might be interested – every little helps!

Also, if you would like a signed edition of the paperback book please do get in touch.