Nostradamus, the Bible, the Mayan calendar, no matter who you are or where you live, you have heard the end of the world prophesized. We’ve all seen the cartoon hippie with a sandwich board warning us “The End is Near!” and waited with baited breath when 1999 flipped to 2000. Now with the onset of December 21, 2012 (the last day on the Mayan calendar) you do pause and wonder. For a second. Right? The end of the world has been predicted many times and we’ve all watched interviews with people who have believed it was coming and sold all they owned and lived full-tilt, spending everything or giving all away.
Dystopian future novels and stories of the Apocalypse have always been around in fiction, but lately have gained even more popularity. With all of the fear and threats in the world today, the recordings of disasters taking on a very human and personal edge, horrific happenings taking thousands of lives in minutes, and with mankind having the tools to destroy all life on the planet, is it any wonder these types of fiction have become so popular?
Why not stretch your imagination, fire up your writing skills, and write some yourself? You can use this exercise to find a story or a jump-off point to start something that goes a completely different way. Or, use this as backstory and begin in the future, after events. Hello, dystopian world. Here are some creative writing prompts to get you started:
What begins the apocalypse? Is it a domino effect? Does something small start it? How does it grow out of control? Does someone (or several someone(s) use events as a catalyst for their own gain?
Is there an otherworldly reason for the beginning of the end? What is it? Where does it come from? Is it a threat? Or is it something that seems benevolent? What is the start? How does it grow and spread? What is the turning point that changes everything?
Write about an assassination and the following chain of events leading to a global war or a big, bad change in life. Who is assassinated? Why does that begin the chain of events? How is this person important? How is the assassination used to begin trouble? Who is behind it? Where does the war start? Is it small? How does it spread?
Write about a war from a high-up military point of view. Write about the war from a soldier on the front line. What about a civilian point of view? Write about a war from a child’s point of view.
Write about a terrorist attack. Where does it happen? Who is killed? Who is behind the attack? Are the terrorists religious fanatics, or are they important members of society? Is this a secret organization? Is the terrorist organization a cover for something else going on? What?
Write a story about a nuclear crisis. How does it start? Is it on purpose? An accident?
Is it a meltdown or attack? Or both?
Write about chemical or biological warfare getting into the wrong hands. Who uses it? Why? What do they gain? Are they obvious, or do they work covertly?
Write about a toxic spill (boat, train, plant). Write about a chemical or biological warfare research accident. Where does it start? How does it grow out of control? Is it on purpose? Is anyone behind it? What do they hope to gain? How does it grow out of their control? Or is it truly an accident? How does it happen?
Write a story about global warming. What finally happens to cause the cascade to the end of the world? Or is it the end? Is it truly global warming, or is something else behind it? What? Write about a flood. Write about a hurricane, tornado, super storms. Write about a fire that spreads, out of control. How does it start? How does it spread? Where does it spread? Write about earthquakes, mudslides, rockslides. Write about tsunamis.
What is life like after any of these things? Are there countries? How does the world divide? Who survives? What is their survival like? What did they have to do to survive? What do they do to make a place to stay? How do they try and keep safe? What are the people like in this post-apocalyptic world? What are the children life? How do they feed themselves? What is precious in this world? (For more ideas, see Worldbuilding Beyond Fantasy and Science Fiction.)
As a final step, go to (or host) an End-Of-The-World party. After writing about all this awful stuff, it will make you feel much better. And remember, it’s fiction. It isn’t real.[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://howtowriteshop.loridevoti.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/KathyColum.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion,” available online and in bookstores everywhere. Additionally, Kathy is also published in short fiction and pens a monthly writing column, “Between the Lines.” She writes from a log home in the woods of southwestern Wisconsin that she shares with her husband and three cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com[/author_info] [/author]