How do you like your apocalypse?

I have a question for all of you. I have a storyboard going, and it’s been growing like crazy. It’s probably going to get bumped up on my list.

Right now it’s just a loose collection of index cards with cool ideas to use in the story. There is a plot, and a smidgen of character arc. I also have a Pinterest board that I’ve been saving visuals in.

The story is going to be post-apocalyptic fiction. As I dwell on my setting, I have a lot of ways to take this, so: How do you like your apocalypse?

The question is two-fold. There is a when factor as well as a why factor. I’ll take them in that order.


• During

• Right after

• Moderately after

• Generations after

There are advantages and disadvantages here. During gives you all the madness as an obstacle to deal with. That can also be a disadvantage, because maybe your plot doesn’t involve the zombie horde. I’ve also already published something that had a “far after” vibe to it, so that isn’t likely to happen again. (Ref: The Yak Guy Project.)

I’m leaning toward moderately after. The disaster is over, looting has already happened, but some gleaning of items is still possible. Any gangs of looters have long since shot each other. Doesn’t mean criminals aren’t around, but not the mob mentality of the initial disaster.

Still, the question is for you as I talk my way through this. Consider the timeframe in your suggestions.


• Disease

• Zombies

• War

• Pollution

• Asteroid impact

• Evolution

• Climate change

• Famine

• AI takeover

• Aliens

• Who cares?

I won’t break these down individually for the sake of space. Suffice it to say, while I love zombies, I’ve kind of walked that path. I’m leaning toward the “Who Cares” option and just plunking the story down in the leftover environment. Readers would probably get pissed if I didn’t glance off the cause in some fashion.

Again, the question is for you today. Consider why in your responses.

I have the whole concept set in swamp country. (Haven’t seen anyone do that yet.) I want to have some scrounging possible, but also bartering, and shops where the better scrounged goods can be purchased. I’m looking for a return to horse power, and I mean the kind with hooves. This probably eliminates robots and aliens from the mix.

I’ve already researched the possibility of naturalized species, invasive species, native species, and more. Alligators and rattlesnakes are a cinch for this tale. Add in the python problem, a few wild hogs, and it sounds like a great place to drop a story. Then there are the crazy weather disasters along the southern coast, and I have plans for some of that, too.

Back to the question of the day: How do you like your apocalypse?

In other news, I dabbled on my task list today. Trimmed the peach tree until the battery died on the Sawsall, finish it tomorrow. Bought the book I want to read, and worked my way through the formatting of Viral Blues. Sent an email detailing issues. I never cracked HMS Lanternfish, and I regret that. I kind of got sidetracked by this post.


Filed under Writing

54 responses to “How do you like your apocalypse?

  1. I’m not one for an apocalypse story so I think I’ll abstain.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. D.L. Finn, Author

    I’m a big fan of human created situations and being thrust into survival against each other and nature with a nice insight thrown in.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmm, I’m pretty much out of my element when it comes to apocalyptic fiction. But if you’re going to have a world with swamps, maybe have a Heat Age instead of an Ice Age? The high temperatures this summer made power grids go down, power lines burst into flames, and people die from heat. Maybe crank the temperatures up even more? Plants die. Lakes evaporate. No air conditioners. Very few crops. Fish could go belly up and migrations go crazy. Just thoughts. Have fun with your story boards!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m impartial to when and why. As long as the story is good and coherent. For my own post-apocalyptic story, I left the why open-ended. Figured most people wouldn’t really know and conspiracy theories would run wild. Went with a decade afterwards to allow for some rebuilding because the story required a level of civilization.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, but there was a nuclear reason that got shadowed into the story. I still remember the half-dead’s or whatever you called them. I’d like to handle it with a minor brush off so I can get on with my story. Comments today have helped quite a bit, and I think there will be more coming.


      • Yes and no. The country was already crumbling and then the nuclear event happened. It was more the final nail in a coffin that had already been finished. Nobody knows who did it, why, and other events that caused the collapse. You hear people talk about it. There’s even the idea that the nuke was fake and it was biological warfare. My point is that the whole is still vague to some extent.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Vague is awesome for my purposes. Maybe just a glance off it, then get on with the story. Readers can pick up a lot from context, too.


  5. Not a recommendation, but a point of interest – I have read several places that a lot of people are saying that we (the world) are more likely to start an accidental nuclear war than during the Cold War and put the possibilities at a very high number, and yet people never put it on lists today. Anyway, my vote would be for human stupidity in any shape or form….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Humanity’s greed and self-interest make up my preferred Post- Apocalyptic scenario. With the time frame of Moderately After, Personal choice of course, but I believe that this time frame affords the writer a greater opportunity for making a connection with the reader.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love all kinds of apocalyptic scenarios, but to fit in best with your setting, I’d be going moderately after the event, and the event was cataclysmic climate change. The earth warmed up, the glaciers melted, great big flooding and death ensued. Now, the earth is a floody, boggy mess (hence your swamp setting), and the few who have survived have had to learn to live in a wet land of bogs, dangers and disease.
    Ah dang. Now I want to write this 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love a good apocalypse. To be honest, I’m not that interested in people shooting and looting, I prefer to read about spectacular apocalyptic phenomena and how people react to their approach. When the apocalypse comes, I like it to be total, with over-the-top earthquakes and vast tsunamis. This would probably not fit with your story, but I also like the idea of climate change, with extreme weather conditions – scary but survivable, up to a point. I think we need stories like that to wake us up.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Have you seen A Quiet Place? It’s not exactly apocalypse, but it is end-of-the-world-ish. And they never reveal how it happened. It follows a family of survivors (and we don’t know if there are more survivors elsewhere) and they’re still in danger.

    I love character-driven fiction, which this is, so I didn’t mind not knowing the how or the why. I was taken with the will-they-live aspect.

    Though, I suppose if your people are still in danger, you have to know what the danger is, even if you don’t reveal how it came to be. But if you’re far in the future dealing with the aftermath, I don’t think it’s necessary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw that one, but thought aliens were the root problem. If they made noise, the monsters found them. Since I’m glancing off global warming in my side project, I’m considering a civil war. One that puts off scientific solutions to global warming, destroys the infrastructure, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I din’t know if they were aliens or mutants or what; it never said. (Unless it was written on a newspaper headline or something—I didn’t have my glasses on when I watched it.) But my point still stands. If it’s character-driven and after the fact, it may not matter.

        But if you’re using global warming as a political statement, then it absolutely does matter. But then it becomes a different story.

        Liked by 1 person

      • My preference is to glance off it. I may decide to discuss a bit of it about a third of the way in.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I hope the peach tree survives! In answer to your question, the main thing for me in reading apocalypse stories is that they are so real they chill my blood. That’s pretty much my only requirement. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Depending how topical you want to get, I’d say climate change. There’s a big blur between “during” and “right after” and a long time frame to fit within.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My favorite apocalyptic fiction is set during the event. I like all the craziness that leads up to the moment. I’m the same way about disaster movies…. often the “after” (in disaster movies) is a let down. Strange, I know. Dante’s Peak was an exception because the “after” delivered.

    I’m not a fan of zombies, but whatever you decide I’m sure it will be a knockout. Im like the swamp idea. I haven’t seen that one done before. Moderately after would be my second choice, and of course, climate change is huge. It’ sounds like you are on a roll with this idea. Exciting times!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Moderately to long after – I’m getting a little tired of the small group of people who beat the odds and survive the ravening hordes, and look forward to an uncertain future storyline. I want to read about the rebuilding part against the backdrop of whatever happened to the world … as for what did happen, I could go with either a science-y or magical-y based premise … not fussed. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The reason why doesn’t make much difference to me, as long as it’s a well-written story. As for when… It depends on the theme. Zombie stories, for example, are better during, or right after. Where as something like evolution is best explored moderately after, or generations after.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I like mine right after. It’s especially good when I can relate to the characters, which would be hard to do if they were generations on. Aliens and environmental causes are more believable than zombies or whatever.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. These are my kind of stories, Craig. As for the when, it doesn’t really matter to me. For the why, if I was voting, I’d say asteroid impact just because I haven’t seen that one done before.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: How do you like your apocalypse? | Archer's Aim

  18. Love apocalypse and dystopian stories. The one I’m writing now occurs many years after a great war with much of the continental US missing, probably due to earthquakes and tsunamis. I scatter a list of dumb human decisions throughout the story. Let’s face it, we have so many ways we are doing harm to ourselves, why choose just one? The government genetically engineered soldiers and some women and now they’re losing control of them. Unfortunately, all the genetic tampering has left humanity mostly sterile. They’re close to starving and desperate for energy. And they hate their creators. Love this topic. I’m from Louisiana, so the swamp thing appeals to me. Mine is a series and the scenes start in the mountains and go around what’s left of the country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Outstanding basis for a story. I’m leaning toward a civil war, because it lends itself to so many secondary characters. Elders who were there, that kind of thing. I’m thinking of starting in Florida and moving to Louisiana in the tale. Mine will be more of a western at heart, but not in the mountains and deserts.


  19. I don’t mind zombies, but would prefer something different. I have read my share of them. My preference of when is either right at the time of the apocalypse or generations later to see how they have evolved.

    The swamp idea is appealing and there are many ways to spin it. You could create a hybrid creature along the lines of the Loch Ness Monster.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I like the ones long after the apocalypse.

    You could still do aliens with a low-tech story. Maybe the aliens just did a hit-and-run, or maybe the aliens lost but the planet is a wasteland because the humans used NBC weapons to win, or maybe there are a handful of aliens left who’ve set themselves up as kings or gods or something.

    I still enjoy a good old-fashioned nuclear war. Mass sterility sometimes makes for a good story.

    Some geologists believe many mass extinctions were caused by “flood basalt volcanism” (I think that’s the term they use).

    I’ve seen a book at Amazon where genetically-engineered chickens devolve into velociraptors, and another book where the apocalypse is due to Chinese dragons.

    Liked by 1 person

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