How Does the Human Race Wipe Itself Out? (Part 2)

While a good many of you reading this will continue to insist contemplating how the human race wipes itself out is something only science fiction writers need to think about, I must beg to differ. Just go talk to someone at the CDC or the NSA. Contemplating the end of the human race is part of their job description. To a lesser extent it is also the job of journalists. I don’t mean people working for CNN or Fox News, I mean actual journalists, if you can find any. We will leave the beginning of the human race as a battle ground for religious leaders and scientists. From a writing perspective we can do nothing about the beginning, but, our writing can either stall off or bring about the end.

One can make the argument your warm fuzzy love story would have a broader appeal if it also involved an extinction level event nobody heard about because it was averted by one or both of the lovers. That whole “surviving the impossible, nobody but us will ever know our true greatness” angle gives a love story more credence. What is it your lovers are going to do? Will they sit around all day trying to fall in love or will they have actual jobs? Just saying “they work at an office” doesn’t really pull a reader into their world.

Too much dystopian fiction glosses over the extinction level event which creates the world of the story. By the same token too many movies focus on the graphics and special effects of extinction level events mostly because they fill the screen and tend to be “work for hire” creations which don’t require royalty payments and the associated “Hollywood Accounting” to avoid those payments entirely.

As a writer you need to explore the extinction event in its entirety knowing full well all of that work won’t directly find its way into the printed pages of the final story. You have to create your own “cannon fodder.” Some writers try to skip this step so they produce, at best, half hearted stories. Other writers get trapped in the process of creating “cannon fodder” and never actually write the story. Some writers refer to the “cannon fodder” as research but you really cannot research a shiny new pulled from the mist of your mind species especially if you are not basing it partly on a known entity.

Most people don’t wish to believe they can directly be responsible for the end of the human race, but a writer can. This is why you must always consider “how” the end can come about then consider “why” you are writing whatever it is you are writing. If you are some kind of freelance writer you will be put in impossible positions where only the soulless can thrive.

Consider the technical writing job of preparing reports for the FDA of some new drug where the source material makes it obvious all of the patients who died were dropped from the clinical trial so the drug would be approved. As a technical writer in the medical field you will most certainly find yourself in such a situation if you work there long enough. Just look at all of the drugs which have been in the news because they got approved then suddenly had lots of deaths.

Consider the job of writing political spin to help a candidate get elected. What if that candidate drags the nation into a large scale war or worse yet has you personally write the press release for a fake event which justifies the war.

Yes, there were many cogs in those wheels, but had even one cog been missing the outcome would certainly be different. We have all heard the chatter about fake news and how one fake news story inspired a gunman to shoot up a pizza place. Someone wrote that. What if the child of a foreign diplomat from a less than warm nation had been in the pizza place? Worse yet, what if the diplomat or their aide had been in there?

Everything you write has some kind of unforeseen consequence.

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