The story I'm writing is based in a post apocalyptic world. In the first few chapters, when I'm introducing the characters jump starting the threads, I find myself repeating several ideas again and again.

For e.g. since it is a post apocalyptic scenario, I have to describe that the building/structure that they are in, has survived the ravages of time. Even though so many things happened, this structure/device/building/thingamajig survived. Since it is important to take the story forward.

It is OK when I do it for one but when I've to do it for everything to highlight it's important and to show that it is the only one in existence, it becomes repetitive and tedious. After a point, even the reader would start to think that this has survived the ravages of time, like everything else, what else is new...

So how do I show this, maintaining the reader's attention without compromising the importance of the thing ?

  • You probably don't have to tell the reader that a thing has survived. It exists, your characters see it and use it, therefore it has survived. (Also, "ravages of time" is a cliche you might consider finding another phrase for.) Jun 9, 2016 at 12:43

3 Answers 3


Give contrast. Insist on everything that hasn't survived, which could also serve to explain everything that happened. If there are more instances (small side notes, rather than big paragraphs) of destroyed things than things that have survived, the latter will stand out much better.


First, make sure character has different concerns and preferences and attitudes about things.

Then, each character would naturally notice or focus on different aspects of the building.

And if two or more characters were to linger on the same aspect, they would have different opinions of it.

If the characters notice different things, and have different opinions of things, that will keep their descriptions fresh and distinct. And their descriptions will not only describe the setting, but also characterize the characters.


You can concentrate on details, without describing the whole "thing" that survived, so everytime you describe a small part.

Other solution : the "Show don't tell" rule. The reader with some indications will know that you're in a post-apocalyptic world, so it's kind of obvious that some buildings were destroyed and other still stand, but you don't have to say it, make your charachter evolve in this world and let the reader see what's he's seeing.

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