Post-Apocalyptic Short Story Ideas

I came across this chart the other day and thought it’d be interesting to share! It’s great for not only novels, but also for short stories, if you’re more of a short story writer.

Discover the Plot of Your Post-Apocalyptic Novel With Our Handy Chart

Although they suggest that you use the first six letters of your name, you don’t have to do this. You can pick and choose which disastrous event, type of character, and overall plot for survival you want.

I also find the formula to be helpful because it provides a clear direction and allows you to focus on a specific event with a specific character fighting for one main, specific thing. This provides enough structure so that the character doesn’t end up meandering in a wasteland or engaging in random fights throughout the story (which is a problem in some post-apocalyptic stories).


“After (some big thing) is destroyed by (type of disaster), a/n (adjective) (character) must survive by (verb) (something).”

Here are some combinations that I’d personally love to read and write about:

  1. After North America is destroyed by nuclear war, a sociopathic socialite must survive by establishing a death cult.

  2. After most of humanity is destroyed by a robot uprising, a clairvoyant mystic must survive by creating an army of clones.

  3. After society is destroyed by capitalism, a resourceful journalist must survive by infiltrating a dystopian government.

  4. After the government is destroyed by World War III, rebellious conspiracy theorist must survive by challenging a shadow government.

  5. After most of Earth is destroyed by a solar flare, a cybernetic scientist must survive by hunting down a group of mutants.

  6. After New York City is destroyed by an airborne toxic event, a half-dead musician must survive by hiding in an underground labyrinth.

  7. After civilization is destroyed by aliens, a solitary monk must survive by submitting to a false prophet.

  8. After North America is destroyed by an asteroid strike, a nihilistic Millennial must survive by scavenging from abandoned homes.

  9. After the electrical grid is destroyed by a solar flare, a superpowered doomsday prepper must survive by designing a makeshift city.

  10. After most of Earth is destroyed by radiation, a cyberpunk deposed princess must survive by becoming part of a shadow government.

Here are a few I came up with (not using the options on the chart):

  1. After the blogosphere is destroyed by a billionaire hacker, a novice blogger must survive by working as his personal assistant.

  2. After three-quarters of the population is poisoned by psychotic Social Darwinists, an artistic mathematician must survive by joining an underground rebel group.

  3. After small businesses are made illegal by a dictator, an innovative entrepreneur must survive by creating an army of humanoid robots.

  4. After 95% of the population is reprogrammed by nanochip implants, an immune poet must survive by disguising herself as a nanochip engineer.

  5. After the banking system is crushed by global debt, a struggling creative writing student must survive by writing propaganda for the plutocracy.