This is How the World Ends… (Part Two)

If zombies, nuclear mushroom clouds, and cities-turned-urban wastelands are what get your creative juices flowing, you might be a candidate for post-apocalyptic writing. And why not? Whether your story is a young adult action/ romance or a gritty, bleak tale of mankind gasping its last breaths, the post-apocalyptic genre is a perennial favorite in bookstores, movie theaters, and on television.


Last week, AuthorHouse offered five tips for writers eager to tell their version of the world’s final days (you can read that article in our Author Advice section) and today we present five more. Read on!


WreckPre-apocalypse world building. Last time, we stressed the importance of creating a believable, detailed post-apocalyptic setting. Remember though, it’s just as important to imagine how the world was before catastrophe struck. After all, that’s the civilization whose remains your characters will be exploring. Was it modern day, as seen in The Walking Dead? A futuristic setting? Or even an alternate past that crumbled?


How long ago was the disaster? Determine how recent the “world ender” occurred, and decide how that affects your story. If it just happened weeks ago, for example, it’s likely that characters might still be scavenging for food in supermarkets and deserted homes. If it was years ago, however, those supplies have probably been exhausted, and characters will have become adept at farming, hunting, etc. Likewise for medicine; will any be left, or will your characters have turned to herbal remedies?


Brush up on your survival skills. The wilderness survival genre, as seen in shows like Man vs. Wild or Survivorman, has never been more popular. Make sure you at least understand the basics of fire-building, water purification, hunting/ trapping, etc. That extra detail will add realism to your story, and realism adds believability and drama.


start fireGive them goals. While survival will always be an underlying concern in P.A. stories, simply going from one survival situation to the next will become repetitive for the reader. You should still give the characters a goal or purpose. Maybe they’re attempting to reach a sanctuary they’ve heard about, or a place where the pre-disaster civilization still exists. Maybe they have to protect the new society they’re building from invaders.


Be consistent. Once you’ve created your setting, you should follow your own “rules.” Discovering a zombie cure because your main character got bit, finding a generator because you’ve painted yourself into a corner that only electricity can get you out of—these are all no-no’s that will damage the credibility that you’ve built with your reader.


AuthorHouse hopes this series has inspired you to give post-apocalyptic writing (or at least reading) a try. Check out the AuthorHouse Bookstore to see how other self-publishing writers in our author community imagine the end of the world.


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