I decided to try to write a short story about zombies.
Then I gave myself a word limit.
What the hell was I thinking?
It's not that easy to write a post-apoc story about a survivor struggling with life and death and humanity and a fractured mind in oh, I don't know, less than a few thousand words. There's so much to figure out. What was this person like before the end of the world? What kind of things did this person care about? Family? Friends? What shaped this person's life? Then there's the survivor story in itself. Then, there's the what happens next...
It was much more difficult than I thought.
But I like this challenge. I have to write the story tight.
No long exposition.
Right to the heart of the story. Fast.
It's been a good exercise so far.
My girlfriend is a die-hard zombie fan. If she could take a minor in Zombie Lit she would. She knows a lot. Not just the stories. How they're constructed. The nuances. The metaphors.
I asked her to read the story.
The next two hours were spent talking about the human condition under crisis.
She's a psych major.
We had an amazing conversation about what makes the mind tick. What makes the mind splinter. What shapes personality. What readers expect to see in a zombie movie and what they expect to read in a zombie story.
So, I have to rewrite. I have to throw the story out entirely.
She made a great point: A zombie movie isn't so much about the zombies. It's about the survivors and how they cope. That's where a zombie plot really begins. What carries the story is a survivor meeting another survivor. Without that meeting there's no zombie story.
Well there you have it.
I'm starting over.
The story I wrote was a zombie fairytale. There where parts of the story that were decent. But just parts. I was just trying too hard to make the story fit to a word count. This happens sometimes. I was cutting corners, essentially. I wasn't focusing on showing the protagonist's struggle. Well, that's being too harsh a critic. I was. Just not enough.
I know I can do it.
I'm going to crunch the story until I get it down to its bare bones and then add just a little bit more... Not much more. Can't put too much life back into a zombie plot. Humanity's been wiped out. What's left? I have the protagonist. I have to think about him some more. I rushed it.... Time to slow him down.