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.

The Universe of Nothing: A Short Story

In the end, there is nothing. There is no sea of nothing. There is neither absence nor the presence of nothing, but nothing.

The sun that has once emitted its cosmic rays delivering its light for all to see shines no more and has faded from a glorious star to piles of dust. The moon that has enchanted man and living creatures since the dawn of time with its haunting, luminous glow has crumbled into rocks and ashes. The stars that once shone from millions of light years away have faded back to the dust that once danced with sparkling crowns in unity across the sky. The planets that once revolved around the sun no longer exist. Perhaps they have fallen out of the orbit before the great hole in the center of the universe swallowed every celestial body that has ever existed. The Universe has folded itself into nothing, yet the blackness, the absence of the Universe, knows no bounds.

A lone being stands on the other side of this hole. He lives on, breathing, dreaming, pondering…Lost in his thoughts, he turns his head around, hoping to find something familiar, at least a fragment of a lost memory in the empty blackness surrounding him. He calls out the names of his loved ones, but the void swallows them whole, while a sense of despair washes over him like the black waves of the sea of shadows…the shadows of oblivion. The oblivion that has haunted him night and day, but time has forgotten all what once was remembered.

There is no universe to exist upon, yet he finds it paradoxical that he is still in existence. To ensure that this is so, he takes a gulp of air, inhales, and exhales…But if the Universe has ceased to exist, there is no air to breathe…and he shouldn’t be feeling what he is currently perceiving to be feeling...

Yet I am still breathing…I feel the rush of air in my lungs, though there is none…Why?

His mind spins. But his body is still.

His bones creak with age and the weight of the universe, yet his youthful visage forms a blank stare. He is breathing…yet he wonders why he is still breathing if there is no air left to breathe…if all of the air around him has collapsed into nothing…

Why am I here? Why do I breathe if there is nothing to breathe? Why do I live if the Universe is neither living nor dead? Why am I aware of my own consciousness when I should be experiencing the consciousness of the state of being unaware of this state of mind? Am I so lost that I am spinning around in oblivion with nothing to reach for, nothing to dream of…nothing to exist for.

He closes his eyes and lets his mind wander above the blackness his hollow body is imprisoned in…