Setting the Stage: How Do You Start an Apocalyptic Story?

Starting an apocalyptic tale, with all the desolation and turmoil they typically depict, can be a profoundly rewarding and creative undertaking. The apocalyptic genre pushes us to ponder the frailty of our foundations and explore survivalist instincts and adaptability in extreme circumstances.

Conceptualize Your Apocalypse

  • Decide what kind of apocalyptic tale you’re crafting. From nuclear war, global pandemics to alien invasion, the causes of world’s end can vary vastly.
  • Determine the timeline of your apocalypse – before, during or after the end of the world.
  • Consider the effect of the apocalyptic event on the surroundings and how its consequences shape the remnants of society.
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Characters Are Key

  • Flesh out complex characters who navigate through the end of the world. Protagonists can range from sole survivors, groups, to even artificial intelligence or animals.
  • Present their journey authentically and realistically within the constraints of your apocalyptic universe.
  • Include emotive backstories, their transformation, and struggles for survival to add depth to their existence.

Starting the Tale

Optimal start to a tale might lie in in media res. You may typically want to start just before the main character’s life changes significantly. Feel free to sprinkle hints and reveals the apocalyptic world through dialogues and flashbacks.

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Plot and Outline

Devise a rock-solid and consistent outline of your narrative. Create a plausible journey from the apocalypse’s cause to the aftermath through engaging plot points. Refrain from falling into clichés and strive for uniqueness.

The Landscape

  • Visualize a detailed landscape altered by the apocalyptic event. How have resources, threats, and the surviving human life changed?
  • Depict a strong and consistent world-building. Integrate pieces of the environment slowly as the tale unfolds.
  • Consider weather extremes. The extreme weather you depict should feel authentic and believable.
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Avoid Common Pitfalls

While writing in this genre, it’s advisable to avoid the overused “sole savior of mankind” trope. Also, examine post-apocalyptic life from diverse viewpoints.


Embarking on the journey to create an apocalyptic tale can be a daunting venture but certainly a fulfilling one. Scour through popular works in the genre, bring strong elements of human vulnerability and resilience, and you have a compelling blueprint. Lastly, nurture a consistent writing habit. With dedication and creativity, your post-apocalyptic world can come alive in pages, taking readers to the edge of crumbling societies and showcasing humanity’s will to endure.

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