There are many aspects of writing a setting. War-torn cities are no exception to the rule. They are an intriguing setting due to the fact that so much can be portrayed through the decimation of the surrounding area. Though writing this is harder than describing a few dilapidated buildings or bullet holes. While sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, and emotion are important, they are not everything. There are a large number of aspects that come into play; conflict, government, economics, and the psyche of the general population come into play just to name a few.
What conflict caused this area to be decimated?
Conflict in fiction doesn’t have to be one from history, it can be completely made up. In my short story, Judgment’s Nightmare the conflict is fictional. However, ahead of time, I did some research into the area surrounding my targetted setting. You need to ask yourself the following questions in regard to conflict (whether it is historical or fictional):
Why is the character in the setting?
Unless they were born there, you might want to have a reason for them being there which is revealed at some point. Otherwise, your audience might be left wondering why they are there in first place.
Which involved party ‘won’ the conflict?
This question is one you may want to ask yourself, but it isn’t necessarily information your reader needs to have dumped on them. Destruction is not synonymous with a victory in a conflict. Though there are many aspects of emotion that a desolate can portray. Loneliness, hopelessness and I have even seen a few writers use this as a sign of better things to come.
Economy, Government, and Psyche
The economy’s state has a lot to do with what type of rebuilding efforts may be being made. If things are flourishing then it will affect the psyche of the society much differently than a society which is having a more struggling economy in the wake of rebuilding.
How does this affect the society psyche?
Basic necessities such as food and water and their availability will have a strong impact on how a society views the world around them. A few other simple questions to think about in relation:
How is the government treating people in the wake of rebuilding?
How the government treats its people is paramount in the psyche of the people and the stimulation of the economy.
How does society’s psyche affect your character’s psyche?
This is not the only thing that will affect how a character views the particular society, but their length of stay and the general consensus of others around them will affect how a character on a subconscious level.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of things to think about when building your setting of a war-torn area. If you have more to add, feel free to leave a comment down below.