“Oh, must it all end in violence?”

Matthew Arnold Stern
3 min readMay 31, 2024
Violent woman attacking a child.

When I finished the draft of my screenplay, I posted the following on my social media:

I have no problem using profanity in my novels, but I didn’t use any in my screenplay. It’s not because I’m shooting for a PG-13 rating. I didn’t need those words to tell the story.

I find the same goes for violence. As I revise the script, I’m cutting down on gun battles and focusing on less lethal encounters among the characters.

Part of it is for practical reasons. Scriptwriting is the art of the possible. Action scenes require stunt people and trained armorers (who can avoid tragedies like what happened on the Rust set). The amount and type of stunts and special effects determine the budget of the film and who I can pitch to.

But most of it is for thematic and ethical reasons.

Post-apocalyptic fiction is mostly about violence. You must kill the zombies, the super-intelligent apes, the venom-spitting bug-like aliens, or the evil villains who somehow find unlimited sources of gasoline and ammunition to unleash chaos with their cool-looking vehicles through a barren landscape. The only thing that matters in these post-apocalyptic worlds is survival, and that means killing the bad guys so they don’t kill you.



Matthew Arnold Stern

A novelist and award-winning public speaker and technical writer. My novels Amiga and The Remainders are available now.