What Makes for an Apocalypse?

Meteors, perfect storms, instant ice age, virulent disease, or war… oh yeah, and zombies.  Apocalypse stories are running strong in our media world.  What is so appealing about the end of the world?

The Life in After World series practically has apocalypse in the title.  The characters live in a world recovering from a worldwide apocalypse that caused all electricity to stop working for over a thousand years.  If you watch Adventure Time on Cartoon Network, you may not realize it, but that is a post apocalypse world.  Your favorite zombie story is apocalyptic.

So what is it that makes a story truly post-apocalyptic?  Well first you need an apocalypse.  Pick one or make a new one up.  It needs to be pretty catastrophic though.

Your second ingredient is going to be survivors.  Without survivors, there is no story to tell, only descriptions.  While I think it is neat to read about descriptions of a world turned on its inhabitants, it does not make for a story.

The third thing you need is an ongoing struggle.  Maybe there are zombies running around still, or maybe electricity can be used again but everyone forgot how to use it.  Or even worse, it is taboo and if you are caught using it then other survivors will turn on you.

You will need a destination as to where your characters are going or that they are trying to accomplish and finally you need some kind of relationship issue going on.  Usually a love story is good but not necessary.  It could be a good versus evil, or family reunion (is that the same as good versus evil?) where a long lost family member is finally found/rescued/etc.  Without a destination your story is going to be just ongoing survive, survive, survive.

Why are they successful though?  Why do we want to read about the destruction of our race?  Well lately it is very relatable.  We have global warming (excuse me, climate change), global warfare, terrorism, disease, 2012, and Obama (50% of you just clicked away.  50% just said, “Yeah, I know, right?”). We are being bombarded with apocalypse stories from all sides in the media.  So with the constant threat, we also read about it.  It is like a simulation.  We can see what is going to happen so in some way we feel prepared.

Me, I do enjoy a good post-apocalyptic story, you?

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