Why zombie novels are so F#king easy to write. And what that taught me about writing.
I just saw that Walking Dead is having a zombie themed cruise in January, with celebrity guests. Since I happen to have a zombie-cruise plot idea on the backburner, I decided it would be a great time to dust it off; if I finish quickly, there should be a lot of promotional opportunities (and maybe I can sell enough copies to buy tickets on the cruise!)
So today I plotted it out a bit, and I’m finding that writing a zombie novel is much easier and more satisfying than my other projects. All my other projects are dystopian – which means the end of the world came and went, a new government already seized control, but shit is bad and an unlikely hero will lead a revolution.
But those stories are starting off a little slowly. There’s no immediate threat of death. You need to build in a lot of characterization – why exactly do characters act like they do? I’m reading a paranormal romance right now where the main character is “hot-headed” which means she gets pissed off and storms away every few pages, incapable of dealing with her emotions.
That’s sloppy. I mean, it’s just a super hot guy being an asshole to her to push her away, because they’re dangerous together. If that’s all that’s going on for a hundred pages, it gets super annoying.
But my books don’t even have that yet… Making readers care about what happens is hard work, even if you scare them a bit with some gore at the beginning.
But Z-books have, y’know, zombies
So whenever pacing is slowing down HOLY SHIT ZOMBIE. Then cool/kickass way of killing the zombie with makeshift tools and HOLY SHIT ZOMBIE. There may be short pauses for characters to fight or fuck, but even in those spaces they are allowed to do some pretty bizarre, out of character shit because THE WORLD IS ENDING and there are fucking zombies everywhere.
I’ll admit I’m still in the early stages of learning how to write fiction, and I’ve got another thousand hours of frustration before things start to get easier.
But I’m also finding this maxim to be true: whenever something comes more easily… focus on that first. In any other skill, identifying the stages of difficulty between specific tasks would be more readily apparent. Walk before you run. Make a table before you carve a wooden Buddha.
Find easy victories. That’s why I’m finding erotica so easy to write – the bar is low, and people care more about the sex than the writing. That lets me write stuff that isn’t all that great, and maybe even have the confidence to publish it (under a pseudonym of course), because why the hell not?
But are some genres inherently easier to write than others? A fast-paced adventure thriller like DaVinci code? A cheesy vampire romance with erotic elements? I haven’t figured it out yet. I don’t think it’s true that different writers will have more trouble with different genres.
I think some genres just take much less work.
What do you think?
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