Tutorial Tuesday

Blogging Tips for Book Bloggers & Authors

Writing the Apocalypse

Writing is hard. Writing about the apocalypse can be an even more daunting of a task. But, a good apocalypse novel can be very rewarding – and strike a chord with readers. They love it. People have been writing about the apocalypse for decades, movies have been made, television shows…all because it’s so popular. People love fantasizing about the end of the world. A good portion of the U.S. population think the world will end in their lifetime.

 

As a writer, you have to invoke feelings within your readers to make them connect to your story and what better way than through an apocalypse novel? It has everything. It has a struggle, conflict, a focus on what’s important, no everyday muck to get in the way, and the freedom to create a world of your choosing.

It’s my ideal writing playground. And because of this, here are some tips…just in case you want to create your own apocalypse playground.

One. Pick your ‘pocalypse.

Pick the right apocalypse for you, do the research and make it work. You can have your apocalypse mean something important to you, like a political stance on Climate Change, or you can make it something you are scared of. Wrap it in a theme that is the focus of the entire novel and you’ll have your readers eating out of your…words.

Two. Keep it Real.

That’s weird saying it about an apocalypse novel, but you need to make it believable. If you write a dystopian with an oppressive government, make sure that the government is believable. Would a government do this? Is it rational to think that a government would take these steps that you’ve written into the novel?

Three. How?

Your characters need to have special characteristics to survive the apocalypse. Why are they alive and everyone else is pushing up daisies? Are they a black belt? Survivalists? Military? Or did they just happen to hook up with a great group of fellow survivors? It can’t all be happenstance?

Four. The Rules.

With your apocalypse scenarios, there will definitely be rules. And you need to follow these rules. If the world is ravaged by a solar storm and people can’t go outside without protective gear – your character can’t run out into the sunset and miraculously survive. I notice this a lot in apocalypse novels. And in movies and television. Last season’s Walking Dead suddenly changed for the characters as they could suddenly kill the zombies with knives to the neck – instead of the usual cranium stab. I found this very distracting. How could they die from a neck wound? It wasn’t even a spinal chord chop and they could never to this before. Rules.

Five. The Basics.

I’ve read a few apocalypse novels where characters go days without finding water, weeks without tending their injuries. It’s unbelievable. It might seem boring, but the basics matter. Your survivors will spend a lot of time…surviving. It can put your writing skills to the test as you make menial tasks interesting, but without it, that believability we talked about earlier, is lost. I’ve also noticed in some novels that characters will get injured. One novel I read, the main character crashed his plane, fell down a cliff, was attacked and hit on the head…and still managed to save the day. Unless your character is superman, stuff like this can’t happen without them getting a little bit of downtime to recuperate.

Six. The Bad Guy.

Not every man is going to turn into a rapist. Not every group of people is going to be evil. Like real life, an apocalypse scenario is going to have a range of humans. There will be bad guys, but there will also be smart people searching for ways to rebuild society, there will be stupid people that just want to survive and will follow the rules. Cannibalism, while it may happen is not going to be the go-to fix for a majority of people. Think about real humans and how you think they’ll react to a crisis. If they are that weak that they would rather eat other humans then hunt a deer…or squirrel? Does that make sense? There are a lot of squirrels.

Seven. People Gotta Die.

It’s the apocalypse. This isn’t Disneyland. People will die. Perfect situations where everyone is living in a utopian environment in the midst of global chaos is again, unbelievable. You are going to have to kill off people. You’re going to have to kill off BIG characters. You’re going to have to make your characters go through some MAJOR stuff. Don’t fluff it. Write it dark. It’s the end of the world.

Eight. Avoid Cliches.

Avoid cliches like the plague. If it’s a cliche it’s been overdone. You don’t want your apocalypse to be overdone. Cliches like the apocalyptic Wild West. The world has ended, the land is suddenly all dusty and everyone is wearing cowboy hats and going to Saloons. Or how many apocalypse novels have you read where the zoo animals are on the loose and the hero gets attacked by a lion or giant snake?

What did we get from these tips? You can break it down to–make it original, keep it believable, and stay on top of your plot. Good luck and I hope this helps.

1 Comment

  1. Kathryn Troy

    I think you’re right about character being one of the essentials. The end of the world has no meaning unless it includes social and cultural breakdown. It’s tremendously traumatizing, and yet that character’s story, told in this framework, is just beginning. Think of Rick Grimes, surviving in arguably the most popular apocalyptic world of our day.

    I’ve been trying to work this out in my own fiction, a wip called Up From the Bog, where the trauma is localized to a particular individual who has lain dormant for two thousand years. Life goes on, as it were, but never in the same way. I’ve tried to hash some of this out on my blog, ladybathoryscloset.blogspot.com, still in research and development. I’d love to get your thoughts!