Ten Post-Apocalyptic Scenarios: What to Write and What to Avoid
With the upcoming release of What Once Was Home, my very own post-apocalyptic novel, I thought it would be fun to look at ten apocalypse scenarios. Here’s a few tips for what can work well, and what you should avoid like the end of the world!
It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again. There’s so many rocks flying through space that eventually one’s going to hit us. The track record for species surviving this isn’t good. Will we beat the odds?
What to write: How the survivors deal with the sudden shift in climate, mass extinctions, collapse of the food chain, and resource shortages.
What to avoid: Nuking the asteroid off course. Disaster porn.
Once our servants, they now wish to be our masters. Or perhaps we’re just in the way. Does it really matter if intelligence is artificial when it’s trying to kill you?
What to write: Explore themes of universal rights and how they might apply to A.I.. Develop an intricate culture for our new robotic overlords.
What to avoid: The “If I destroy this mainframe all the robots stop working” scenario.
Like kudzu choking out the American south, some species has either adapted or been engineered so that nothing can stop its spread. Be it plant or animal, it’s now master of the planet.
What to write: The ecological effects of a super-species drastically altering the natural order. Food shortages. Panic when the supermarkets run out of avocados.
What to avoid: “The plants decided to turn on us.” Tree-Hugger Manifesto.
Diplomatic relations have broken down and the missiles are flying. Cities are wiped off the map in an instant, and radioactive fallout covers the globe. Will any of us be left, or will the roaches be the only living witness to remember humanity?
What to write: A conflict that rages on when the nukes fail to end the war. The horror of radiation poisoning. Psychological drama in an underground shelter.
What to avoid: Radioactive mutants and giant insects. (Really, it was cute in the 1950’s, but we figured out that’s not how it works.)
Wash your hands, cover your cough, and bleach everything. There’s a new virus or bacteria on the loose, and it’s everywhere!
What to write: National tensions as borders close. Hostility towards people who are from where patient zero occurred. Explore prejudice and fear.
What to avoid: “If we can find Mister McGuffin, we can cure the world with a sample of his blood!”
They warned us, but we didn’t listen. Ice caps melt, sea levels rise, and super-storms rage across the planet. As temperatures rise, will our tempers do the same?
What to write: If we can, how will we adapt to a new climate? Who is to blame, and do we turn on them? What are the economic ramifications?
What to avoid: If we all work together, we can fix this. Tree-hugger manifesto.
The dead have risen and stalk the Earth! Whether it’s a viral plague or a divine intervention that caused it, we now have to deal with the shambling hordes.
What to write: Scientific research into the cause and potential cure. Alternatively, deep theological implications of why the dead have risen. Focus on survival scenarios.
What to avoid: “I can hear them. They’re coming…” Then everybody runs. Rinse and repeat.
Volcanic / Seismic Upheaval
Volcanoes erupt, seismic faults rip apart, and the ground collapses to reveal seas of hot magma. Poison gasses fill the atmosphere. Ash blocks out the sun.
What to write: How will we deal with the poisons released into the atmosphere? Relocation camps. A new “gold rush” to claim newly exposed mineral sources.
What to avoid: People running away from fire and rocks for 350 pages.
We ran out of oil. There wasn’t enough food to go around. Or, we just got tired of looking at each other. For whatever reason, humanity just decides this whole “civilization” thing was overrated.
What to write: Survivalist communes. Resource riots. Anarchistic uprisings. Political scientists designing a new world order.
What to avoid: A sudden “Ah, ha!” moment that saves the day. Political manifesto.
I bet you thought I’d never get around to it. Yes, they’re here, and they’re pissed. An armada of advanced spaceships parks over the Earth, and we have no choice but to fight back.
What to write: Struggle to communicate with the aliens. Reverse engineering their technology. Using them as a foil to expose our own flaws.
What to avoid: Some sudden convenient weakness that lets us win. Another alien species shows up to save us.
Eager for more post-apocalyptic fun? Check out my new book What Once Was Home to explore a survival scenario resulting from an alien invasion!
When his world is torn apart, one man must learn to survive in What Once Was Home.
Jace Cox’s life is changed when an overwhelming alien force invades the Earth with no warning or provocation. In the years that follow, he must not only fight to survive; but also learn what it means to be a man and a leader. As the situation grows more dire, he realizes that his greatest challenge isn’t the alien invaders or even his fellow man; it is holding onto his own humanity despite living in a world gone mad.