The Way of the Word

28. May 2011

Awesome Ideas That Will Never Be

Okay, if the right chain of unlikely coincidences should happen, this one has a very slim chance of not being completely impossible. If someone who knows Cassandra Peterson happens to see this and likes it and points it out to her and she likes it…

But, yeah: awesome idea that will never be.

I like Elvira (Cassandra Peterson). The character is funny, bizarre, over the top, sexy and, well, funny. I own her first movie, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, on DVD. I’ve seen the second one, Elvira’s Haunted Hills, but I don’t like it nearly as much as the first. The reason is simple: Elvira is an over-the-top comedic character. But unlike the first movie, where Elvira began as the odd woman out and the situation became progressively more bizarre, the second movie had a scenario where everyone was so bizarre that Elvira fit right in.

A good Elvira movie needs to quote heavily from the horror genre, and it has to have Elvira as someone who stands out like the proverbial sore thumb. If everyone is as bizarre as she, then it’s overkill.

So what can we do to make a good and fun Elvira movie? It’s really quite simple:

Elvira Knows Why You Screamed on Friday the 13th.

Let’s quote heavily from the slasher genre, with some liberal sprinkling of Evil Dead and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

A busload of teenagers, returning home from a sports event (or going to a sports event) finds themselves trapped on a small islet. They had only planned to pass through, but a flash flood tore down both bridges, effectively isolating them. There is only one house on the islet, a mansion actually, so the teenagers turn there for help.

The only person in there is Elvira, who, being her normal friendly and helpful self, offers the kids shelter. But something is weird about the entire set-up. Curious as teenagers are, they discover that Elvira is engaged in some strange magickal rituals that might involve the Necronomicon.

As soon as they discover that, they start dying. Since Elvira is the odd woman out, they of course immediately suspect her as the Slasher, and try to kill her in return. Which doesn’t work, but plays a part in establishing that Elvira is not the killer. As the outsider looking in, her help does turn out to be instrumental in uncovering the real killer. And about the magickal experiments she performs in her basement? Yes, it is the Necronomicon, but she’s not trying to call up demons. She’s trying to materialize Bruce Campbell.

At the end of the night, the bridges are being repaired, so the surivors can look forward to continuing on their trip. But what about Elvira? Will she get lucky? Will her summoning of Bruce Campbell succeed? Only his agent knows for sure…

15. May 2011

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean 4 – On Stranger Tides

USA 2011. Directed by Rob Marshall. Starring Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane. Runtine: 140 minutes

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is in London, and hiring a crew for a new expedition. When Captain Jack Sparrow finds out about that, he’s rather upset that someone is abusing his name. He has just found out who it is when he is shanghaied into that very crew — which turns out to be Blackbeard’s (Ian McShane). Blackbeard and his daughter Angelica (Penelope Cruz) are looking for the Fountain of Youth. Just like everyone else, from the Spanish king to Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Jack’s arch-nemesis. And everyone thinks that Captain Jack Sparrow knows where it is.

I’m kind of torn regarding Pirates 4. On the one hand, I didn’t very much like it. On the other hand, I know exactly why: I’m too old for it. Pirates of the Caribbean is very much a children’s movie. If you’re under 18, you’re probably going to love it, for exactly the bits that seemed silly and contrieved (in other words: childish) to me. In that regard, it fails: while delivering the goods for the young target group, it forgets to add a layer for the adults. If you’ll compare recent animated movies like Despicable Me or Megamind, those had something for everyone to enjoy. Pirates 4 is only for children. Perhaps adults are supposed to marvel at the production values. It is, in a way, a pity, because Pirates 4 opens with a very clever and well-choreographed action sequence where Captain Jack escapes from the clutches of the king of  England. But it fades fast afterwards. There is still plenty of action, and a couple of scenes that might have been scary, but it is literally too bloodless to be effective.

Yes, Pirates of the Caribbean 4 is definitely aimed straight at children. In that, it falls short of the all-ages appeal of the first one.

Another problem is that the cast doesn’t bother to try to save the movie. Johnny Depp is by now so familiar with Jack Sparrow that he doesn’t need to wake up in order to play the part, and it shows. McShane’s Blackbeard tries his best to be menacing, but he doesn’t really succeed. There is no chemistry between Cruz and Depp, and their relationship doesn’t really hold water. Only Rush as Barbossa stands out. Rush chews his scenery with relish, and becomes the best thing about this movie.

The script is also rather careless. A bit more effort would have resulted in a layered all-ages movie instead of a pure childrens’s movie. And some plotholes would have required plugging. While there is a twist at the end that even I didn’t see coming, the ending had several problems. While some of it was predictable, there was one real “That character wouldn’t do that” moment, and the ending required ignoring some of the rules the movie set up.

Of course, this movie was in 3D. Compared to most, the 3D was not bad. Disney really knows how to do that. However, the 3D is in-your-face pointless, mostly it’s about objects being thrust into your face. You don’t lose anything by seeing this movie in 2D.

The final verdict? This one is difficult. As a movie for children, Pirates 4 is quite effective. As such, I render the

Verdict: recommended

For adults without children, it’s more difficult. Pirates 4 is better than Pirates 2 and 3, but that’s not difficult to accomplish. It’s not as much fun as the first one, though. For adults, I render the

Verdict: mildly recommended

31. May 2010

Novel in Progress: Revenge of the Walking Dead

The manuscript had been at 188 pages. I deleted those chapters that involved Christopher Price, and was left with 96 pages. Which is about 1/3 of the originally intended total length.

Over the weekend, I contemplated what I had. I can replace Christopher Price’s part in this story. But… Being an outsider, he had to learn a lot of the background. Which means that I had him run around a lot during the first half, learning about Hoodoo, and introducing the reader as well. Now, I can have other characters do that, it’s not a problem. I’ll lose one of my favorite chapters — the one where the villain fools Price (and hopefully also the reader) into thinking that he’s the good guy of this story. I’m not sure how to salvage that moment. Okay, on the one hand, it was too expository anyway. But I liked trying to fool everyone, which is the part I want to keep.

In total, after looking through the chapters that survived the deletion, I realized that I have to write an almost completely new novel based on some of the ideas in the, let’s call it original work. I have to go back to outline and proceed from there. I also need to figure out how to do that while writing and drawing Made of Fail at the same time.

28. May 2010

Novel in Progress: Revenge of the Walking Dead

What, a NiP-post about the zombie novel? Didn’t I stop working on it some weeks ago?

Yes, I did. Sadly, though, the story isn’t letting go of me. Some time after I stopped working on it, I realized the biggest problem Revenge has had: Christopher Price.

Yes, my intended series character and the novel’s supposed main character was the biggest problem. He was forced into the story, didn’t fit in naturally. I had to contort the plot to make sure he would stay around long enough to play his part in the showdown. Because he had no reason to.

When I realized that, I also realized how I could use other characters in the novel to do the things Christopher was supposed to do. I would have been content to leave it at that, except…

A few nights ago, I literally woke up realizing that there was one thing Christopher did that none of the other characters could do. Only one thing, but that was a very major problem.

It’s Christopher who finds the 50 fetish dolls and tells the Mama Loa about them, which gives her the information she needs to devise a way to stop the zombies.

That was it for that night. My mind just wouldn’t let go of that problem. The PI would have a reason to find the fetish dolls, but he wouldn’t have the opportunity or reason to seek out Mama Loa and tell her about them. The racist would have the opportunity to find the fetish dolls, but he definitely wouldn’t talk to Mama Loa. Instead, he’d destroy them. I was awake in bed for the rest of that right because I. Just. Couldn’t. Let. It. Go. The novel’s done, I’m not going to go back to it, I kept telling myself. My mind kept telling me to shut up, there’s this major plot problem to solve.

When the alarm rang, I had figured out how to fix that problem.

I don’t really want to start Revenge of the Walking Dead over again. I don’t want to waste another year of my life. Not to mention that I have a major timing problem: I only just relaunched Made of Fail. One of the reasons why I had stopped creating Made of Fail was because I couldn’t do both that and write a novel at the same time.

But the novel isn’t letting me go. It demands my attention. It seems that if I don’t get back to it, if I don’t finish it, I will go insane.

I need to figure out how to time things so that I can fix the novel (maybe, when I’ve done that, it will let go of me) and write/draw Made of Fail in parallel.

Update: I deleted all the chapters with Christopher Price, just to see where that got me. It turns out that it would cost me half the novel.

Which implies that I could keep about half of what I’ve already written and need to replace the other half. When that’s done, I’d be back where I am now — at a 2/3 finished novel.

23. March 2010

Passenger – A short story by Jens H. Altmann

Filed under: Fiction,general,Uncategorized,writing — jensaltmann @ 10:01
Tags: , , , , ,

Anne put both hands on the smiling baby’s body. She lifted her up over her head.

“Whee,” she said. The baby laughed. Slowly, Anne lowered her hands until the baby’s body was at the level of her face. Anne pressed her face against the baby’s belly and gnawed the soft skin with her lips, tickling. The baby gurgled happily and grabbed Anne’s hair with both hands, pulling enthusiastically.

“Ow, stop that,” Anne said. “That hurts, Joy.” Responding to the laughter in her mother’s voice, Joy laughed and pulled harder. Taking her daughter’s hand, Anne freed herself.

“Are you sure we’re safe here?” Jeff asked. “I really don’t like the isolation. And how are we going to defend this place?”

Anne turned her head to look at her husband, who was talking with his best friend Kent.

“As sure as anything is these days,” Kent said. “The isolation is just what makes it safe. They will stay in the cities and towns, where they can find… find their food. It’ll be a while before they’ll start foraging in such isolated areas. By then, we’ll have figured out where we can go.”

“Someplace really safe,” Mattie said. “Someplace with thick and high walls all around. Thick and high enough that they can’t get over them.”

“Like the state penitentiary,” Kent said. “I’ve been thinking along the same lines. But not just yet. I don’t think the streets are safe yet. In a week or so, I think it’ll be safe to travel in a week or so.”

Anne sighed and turned her attention back to Joy. The baby girl made some gurgling noises. Anne held her a little closer and wiped drool of her daughter’s face.

“Thank god you’re too young to understand this,” she whispered. Then again, Anne didn’t pretend she understood any of this. And she was sure that Jeff or Kent or Mattie didn’t, either. But at least Kent had something resembling a plan to get through this alive, and he was kind enough to take Jeff and his family along.

This cabin in the forest was scary, though. Anne didn’t really feel safe here. It was isolated, and Jeff kept complaining how difficult it would be to defend.

As if his computer gaming experience made him anything like an expert on these things. At least Kent’s horror movie addiction seemed to be useful.

“What do we do now?” Anne asked.

“We wait. We brought enough supplies to last two or three weeks. Including milk for Joy, unless you’re still… err…”

“Joy’s on formula,” Anne said. She smiled at Kent’s discomfort.

“Okay. Yes. Anyway. What we need to do is, we need to board up the windows and the doors.”

“Won’t that attract them?” Mattie asked. “I mean, if I had to choose between a house with boarded-up windows and one that looked normal, I’d check out the boarded-up place.”

“It hasn’t been established that they think,” Kent said. “They probably can’t even tell the difference. At the very least, it’ll buy us some time to get down into the basement.”

“What kind of weapons do we have?” Jeff asked. Anne rolled her eyes. Mattie saw that and grinned.

“I have a 9mm pistol and a shotgun,” Kent said. “Do you know how to use either of them?” Jeff shook his head. “Me, neither,” Kent admitted. “I never thought I’d have to use something like that.”

“I guess all those survivalist camps, they’re gonna be very safe now. Haven’t they prepared for this kind of thing?”

“Probably. Good point, though. I’ll need to figure out a way to get in touch with them.”

Jeff got up, slapping his hands together.

“Okay, let’s get on with it. Where are the tools?”

“In the car. Let’s go fetch them. Anne, Mattie, would you help carry? The sooner we’re done. Err… Anne, that is, if Joy can stay out of trouble for five minutes or so…?”

Anne put her daughter down on the blanket. The baby’s smile faded slightly, replaced by something resembling a frown. Even the baby sensed that the situation was really desperate.

“I suppose,” Anne said, tickling Joy’s belly. “I’ll be right back, sweetie.”

Kent stopped in the doorway for a second and looked around.

“Okay, looks good. Let’s go get the stuff.”

He went towards the station wagon, Mattie close behind him. Anne followed Mattie, with Jeff coming out last. Anne heard him mutter something about ‘bringing up the rear.” Kent opened the wagon’s rear hatch. He reached inside, pulled out a box and passed it on to Mattie. Mattie stepped back, looked around…

She screamed and dropped the box. Kent straightened up, then ducked when he banged his head against the upraised hatch.

“What the…?”

Anne saw what had frightened Mattie, and joined her friend in the scream. The zombie that shambled out of the forest reacted to the noise and headed towards them.

“Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck,” Anne heard Jeff mutter. Mattie’s paralysis broke. She turned and ran towards the house. Anne still screamed.

“Annie, run!”

She heard Jeff’s yell, but found herself unable to move. She barely noticed Kent sitting on the ground with his mouth open. Anne heard a loud bang. The zombie staggered, then straightened up. Another loud bang.

Kent got up and ran towards the cabin. Was he screaming, or was it still her? Anne wasn’t sure. Maybe it was Jeff. The zombie came closer. It stumbled over the box Mattie had dropped and fell, fell towards Anne. When the clammy dead hand touched her leg, Anne found herself able to move again. But the hand grasped her ankle with incredible strength. It wouldn’t let go. Anne tried to tear herself loose. She lost her balance and fell.

More bangs. The zombie jerked. Anne felt a pain in her calf. She kicked the creature in the face. It let go. Anne crawled away. Her calf hurt horribly, far worse than a graze from a bullet should have. She looked up to see her husband stand, legs wide apart, holding the pistol with both hands, taking aim. He pulled the trigger twice more. Something moist hit her. Anne looked at the zombie. Jeff had finally hit the head. The moist stuff she had felt were the creature’s brains, splattering over her leg.

Anne struggled to her feet.

“Jeff, I…”

“Stay back.”

Jeff pointed the gun at her. Anne looked at it, blinking, not comprehending.

“Jeff, what…?”

Jeff pointed his chin at her leg. Anne looked down. Looked at the wound on her calf. A wound that looked a lot like a bite.

Oh no.

“Don’t come closer. You’re infected. You’re gonna be one of them.”

“Jeff, honey, I…”

Jeff took three steps backwards.

“No. No, I… Stay back, Annie, please. You’re infected. I can’t… I can’t…”

Annie stumbled another step closer. She held out her hand, begging.

“Jeff, please.”

“Shoot her,” Kent said. Both looked at him. “She’s infected. She’s going to be one of them. Shoot her, before that happens.”

“Kent, she’s my wife. My wife.”

“Shoot her.” This from Mattie. “It’s better for her too. You wouldn’t want to come back like… like that, would you, Anne?”

Jeff looked at Mattie, then at Kent. Then he looked at Annie.

He lowered the gun. His mouth moved, he tried to say something, but whatever it was, it was too quiet for Anne to hear. Jeff’s shoulders dropped. His face twisted. Anne saw tears run down his cheeks.

He held the gun out towards Kent.

“I can’t. I… I…”

Kent took the pistol. He took aim at Anne. She closed her eyes. She felt tears run down her face.

“Please … can I see Joy…?”

A moment later, she heard something click. Not the bang she had expected. She opened her eyes.

She was alone. The cabin’s door was closed. The three had gone inside, left her out here to…

To do what, actually? To die? And to eventually come back as a zombie? Which was what would probably happen, unless more zombies showed up first to eat her.

Why hadn’t they killed her? If they were so sure she was infected and would die and come back as a zombie, why hadn’t they shot out her brains? It had worked with… with that one.

Maybe, maybe if they had taken her in, and treated her, maybe she would live and they could take her to a doctor who could do something. So that she wouldn’t die.

Maybe in an hour or so they would realize that and let her in. Until then, it was important to get to a safe place. Someplace where zombies wouldn’t get her. If there was one, there were probably more. And she wasn’t feeling all that well, actually. She felt dizzy, and a bit feverish. The shock, yes, it was probably the shock. If she could get a bit of a rest, she’d be fine again in no time.

Anne thought of Joy. She wiped some tears from her face. That was the worst, actually. The thought that she might never see her baby again.

I need to lie down. Just for a moment.

Anne looked around. The only safe-looking place was the station wagon. She took a couple of unsteady steps towards it. Then she climbed into the back and pulled the door down. It closed with a comforting thunking sound.

Anne rummaged through the boxes. There was a blanket here, there had to be. She remembered packing one, and she didn’t remember unpacking it. By now, she was shaking. It felt a bit like a cold. A bad cold.

I’m running a fever, she thought. The idea comforted her. Fever, that meant her body was fighting the infection, burning it out.

There was the bag. Anne unzipped it with unsteady hands. The blanket was right in top. It was a nice, cozy, warm fleece blanket. Anne pulled the blanket out of the bag. She wrapped herself into it, crawled to the backseat and stretched out as much as the station wagon’s dimensions allowed. The blanket helped, she felt a bit warmer. The shaking didn’t stop, however. Anne closed her eyes. She felt so weak. Maybe, maybe if she rested her eyes, the fever would burn the infection out and she would feel fine again. Then she’d get out of the car, knock on the cabin door, yell at the three idiots inside. They’d let her in, treat her injury, and she would hug her baby and feel better again.

Anne hung on to that thought of holding her baby as the world faded to black.

*          *            *

It was the sense of motion that woke her up.

Motion? What motion? Why were her eyes open? What was wrong with her eyes? They seemed to be somewhat out of focus.

The motion was her body. Why was her body moving? Anne had never been a sleepwalker. So why was her body moving now, when she wasn’t making it move?

Her body was bumping into the closed car door. It was trying to open it.

Oh, come on, have you forgotten how to open a door?

Apparently so. Anne couldn’t tell how long her body took to accidentally turn the handle that opened the door. Unprepared, the body fell out, to the ground.

As the body staggered to its feet – from the way it looked to Anne from somewhere inside the body, it must have been a comical sight – she noticed something she hadn’t noticed before, because it had been out of her body’s line of sight.

There were zombies all over the place. They were everywhere. There was no place to escape to, especially as uncoordinated as Anne was right now.

But… They were ignoring her. Instead, they were all moving towards the house.

And… they all moved as stiffly and slowly as Anne’s body did. Anne’s body had finally managed to get to its feet. Now it was wobbling and swaying. It was relearning how to keep its balance. When it stood firm on its two feet, it took a slow step forward. The legs felt stiff for some reason, Anne could tell that it was hard to move. The body held out the arms in an effort to maintain balance.

Why were the zombies ignoring her? That other one hadn’t, it had bitten her…

Oh.

No.

Anne became aware that her body smelled something. Something enticing, appetizing. Her body stopped, getting its bearings, and finally turned towards the cabin.

Why were there no gunshots? The others had been armed, they had been ready to fight off zombies. Why was the…

Oh no.

As Anne’s body stumbled towards the cabin, she noticed that the door was open. How long had she lain in the car, completely out of it? Clearly long enough that the others had already fought the zombies, and lost the fight. Now the creatures were swarming inside.

What was that sound? Anne was positive that there was some sound coming from the cabin, some sound that wasn’t the zombies moaning and smacking. It sounded almost like…

No! No!

Her body seemed to take forever to reach the cabin. It stumbled repeatedly, it fell against other zombies. Somehow, it managed to stay on its feet, it managed to move forward. As the scent … What was that scent anyway? What was it that smelled so good, so tasty?… grew stronger, as that sounds she couldn’t identify grew louder, Anne’s body quickened its pace of its own accord. It pushed its way through the door past some other zombies.

The body ignored the sight of the zombies feeding. Anne’s mind screamed. She only recognized what was left of Kent by the shirt she had last seen him wear. Three zombies were pulling on Mattie’s limbs, fighting over the meal.

Oh my dear god, is Mattie still moving?

Anne tried to see, but her body ignored it. Whatever attention it had was completely focused on reaching the source of the smell. The smell and the sound both seemed to come from the cupboard. Through the hazy vision, Anne could make out some zombies that stood there and tried to get through the closed cupboard door.

Where was Jeff? Was he covered by the pile of zombies over there to the left?

Anne’s body reached the cupboard and pushed the other zombies aside. Anne could sense her body’s greed, the hunger. The body grabbed the cupboard doors. Muscle memory made the body pull. The doors opened. The smell and the sound were joined by the visual.

Anne’s mind screamed. She tried to focus, she tried to burn her will into her body’s limbs.

Her mind was not nearly strong enough to influence her body’s actions. Anne’s body reached into the cupboard, took hold of the baby, and pulled it out.

Joy stopped screaming. Anne wondered if her daughter recognized the body as that of Mommy, she wondered if her daughter thought that everything would be okay now that Mommy’s here to protect her.

Anne’s mind screamed and raged and tried to stop her body. Anything, anything but this! Turn around you traitorous undead machine, don’t do this, we need to protect her.

Joy actually smiled when Anne’s body’s face pressed itself against her belly.

Then she screamed as Anne’s body bit into the soft flesh.

THE END

(c) 2010 by Jens H. Altmann. All rights reserved.

20. March 2010

Review: Max Brooks – World War Z

Filed under: books,Commentary,general,review — jensaltmann @ 10:11
Tags: , , , ,

Originally published in 2006.

It has been a decade since the zombie apocalypse. An intrepid reporter travels the world and talks with survivors of the Zombie War. The plague of the undead started in China and spread from there all over the world. Israel walled itself in to keep the undead out. Governments all over the world, realizing they couldn’t possibly save everyone, drew back, abandoning their peoples to the zombies, entrenching themselves with a handful of people in defensible positions. For years, all the remnants of humanity did was try to survive, without hope for tomorrow.

Until they had enough. Until they decided they had to take back the world, the future. But what kind of future, on a devastated world? And what kind of world has risen from the ashes of the zombie apocalypse?

In World War Z, Brooks’s look at the world after the zombie apocalypse takes the form of interviews. We see the war through the eyes of several survivors from all over the world. We read about the ecological devastation, about the Iran-Pakistan nuclear exchange, the Holy Russian Empire that has risen from what was left of current Russia.  He spends most of the time on describing the fall of mankind, as opposed to the relatively few pages about how we reclaim what’s left of the Earth. Rightly so, considering that the world during the zombie apocalypse is more interesting than reading variations about how soldiers move across the world shooting zombies in the head.

It’s a fightening and compelling book, the closest to unputdownable that I have read this year. It’s book full of tragedy, and there were a few scenes that tore at my heartstrings. Even though Brooks’s book travels the entire world, it’s clear where his personal loyalties lie — after the war, the only country that seems to be worth living in appears to be what’s left of the US. Except for that, he attempts the part of the neutral observer, which makes the effect of several chapters even more chilling. At least for me, some chapters made me think that after the war, those who died were the lucky ones.

World War Z is a chilling, sad and frightening read. The premise of the zombie apocalypse is the only far-fetched aspect of this story. The reactions of the humans are far too plausible.

The best zombie stories use the undead as a tool to shine a light on some of the less savory aspects of the human condition. World War Z attempts the same and succeeds at it.

Verdict: Very recommended

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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