The Way of the Word

16. February 2010

Novel in Progress: Revenge of the Walking Dead

Back to the drawing board.

I have procrastinated for quite a few days now. Until I finally admitted yesterday that I simply don’t want to go back to finishing Revenge of the Walking Dead.

What’s the problem?

The problem is that the third act of the story bores me. If it bores even me, then what hope is there for the reader to enjoy. So I took a long hard look at my outline yesterday, and decided that I need to revise the third act on outline level.

The problem is that while I have spent the first act slowly building towards the rise of the walking dead, and the second act setting up what I have called my zombie apocalypse… there are simply too many problems with the third act:

– My zombies aren’t very scary.

– My protagonist is too passive.

– I veer too far away from the zombie aspect of the tale, and go too deep into the voodoo aspects.

The last thing is easily explained: when I did my research, I became increasingly fascinated by the scariness of voodoo and hoodoo. When I wrote the outline, that fascination crept into the story. Unfortunately, when I reached that point in the story, all that voodoo hoodoo didn’t really make for an exciting conclusion. Zombies are a physical menace, and spending the third act of the novel looking at a priestess doing magic doesn’t really fit into the story.

The other problem is that my zombies aren’t really scary. I based them on the voodoo research I did for the novel, filtered through my own ideas. So what I have here is an unstoppable army of 50 slow-moving zombies that kill their victims without spawning more zombies.

The question is, how can I make them scarier? I could make them move faster, which I don’t want to (I prefer the slow-moving kind, for various reasons). I could increase their numbers (which, for various reasons, is impossible), or I could make them infectious (which, as I have set things up, is equally impossible).

Off all of the above, the scariest (and easiest) solution to the problem would be to make the zombies infectious. Which would also resolve the problem of making the third act less esoteric. It does, however, raise the problem of how to defeat the zombie threat.

I actually have some ideas on that, I just need to figure out how to make them work.

Another problem is that I really need to kill one character who, in outline, was supposed to survive.  That character has a rollercoaster history: I initially created to kill him. When I outlined, he became somewhat sympathetic, so I let him life. When I wrote his scenes, I remembered why I had originally wanted to kill him.

So, basically, I need to rewrite the third act to

– make the zombies scarier

– reduce the voodoo esotericism

– make my protagonist more active

– and kill that one particular character.

Shouldn’t be too difficult, right?

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