Aero’s General Guidelines for Apocalyptic Fiction

Hello, everyone. I’m Aero, and I seem to be a tad late in posting this. Sorry it took so long for me to figure out just what I want to write about. I’ve finally decided to give tips on writing Apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic fiction, since that seems to be my area of expertise. I feel science fiction is too broad a genre for me to describe, and I’ve been working on a story of this sub-genre for quite some time, so I think it’s just my cup o’ tea. So, here it goes.
  • Know your apocalypse.
One of the most important factors of a broken world is what broke it. There are a number things that could lead to national or even global societal collapse, be it war, famine, plague, or other disasters natural or man-made. While there are similarities between all situations, the type of apocalypse determines many of the challenges characters might have to face. And while one may mix disasters (ex: the game, Fallen Earth mixes disease and nuclear) there are some factors that may not cross over. In a nuclear situation, for example, there would likely be few survivors walking the surface. It’s probable that many would be hiding beneath the ground, while in the case of a contagion, many people would be dispersed over large areas rather than concentrated in an underground bunker. The scenario takes careful consideration and planning to make as realistic as possible, but in the end, your apocalypse is yours.
  • The end of the world sucks.
While a chaotic world can seem like a playground at times, the magnitude of death and destruction nearly every survivor bears witness to is bound to have some mental effect. These effects may surface often or very rarely depending on the person and situations. Most survivors will have to or may have had to take a life for their own, and very few people can walk away from that unscathed. Tragic scenes and the smell of decay are bound to be wherever people once lived. Everyone reacts to these things differently, and coping with them is another major factor in the broken world.
  • Why is there a bazooka in this trash can?

While there may be some items left in unusual places, it’s important to remember where your characters are and how they obtained what they have. It would be very unlikely for every member of a group to be outfitted with the latest military rifles unless there’s a place they can access and get them from, and some things might not be so easy to take. Food and water will be hard to come by, and will likely be fought over by survivors who come into contact with each other. If they are under the care of some type of governing force, they will likely not be allowed to have many personal possessions, especially weapons.

  • The world keeps spinning.

Even without humans, the world does not sit still. Nature moves rapidly to reclaim what was taken. Of course, some factors change, speed up, or slow nature’s course, and disasters which solely effect humans will leave natures advance at its normal rate. For a reference of how fast this advance is, I would suggest watching a TV documentary that aired on the History Channel called Life After People. It can be found very easily on YouTube. Keep in mind just how long it has been since the initial collapse and the events that occurred after. These can greatly effect the environment.

All in all there are a million possibilities, and it’s up to you, the writer, to make the apocalypse your own and the story unique. Happy writing.

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