active characters, advice, how to write, passive characters, the future chronicles, the z chronicles, writing, zombies
Last WW: Deadlines
I recently wrote a story for the upcoming The Z Chronicles. My story is titled The World After. (and if your’e on my mailing list, you’ll have an opportunity to get a free copy of the book!) Writing this story took more effort than any story I have written before. Part of it was because of my character being a bystander in her own story.I didn’t want to tell the same ol’ zombie story. I started with lots of ideas, some of which were borrowed from flash fictions that I’ve written: zombies on a plane, POV zombie, robots vs zombie dinosaurs… But the one that stuck out to me was a detective working with a zombie mob boss. Really, none of those ideas made it into my final draft.
I decided to do what I do best and write dystopian. I really wanted to keep the “future” in The Future Chronicles, even though this collection is trying to break into the horror genre. I won’t go into too many details about the actual story. That you’ll just have to read for yourself.
But this was a story that was hard to figure out how to tell. I sat down and wrote it, and those original ideas junked up the first draft. Beyond that, my Alpha reader was mad that my protagonist was just standing there. Things were happening around her and she was lucking into not dying. It wasn’t at all what I was going for.
There was literally a scene where she jumped down into a zombie pit, closed her eyes, and hoped they wouldn’t eat her! That’s no way for a protagonist, especially a hero, to act. In the second draft she decided to fight the zombies and force them to take her where she wanted. It was better, but out of place. The protagonist can’t just be active to be active. It can’t be forced. There has to be a reason for their actions.
After a lot of work and tooling, I managed to make her motivated and active. No more standing around while the story went on around her. She was the story.
Urgh, yeah. I already know that this is shaping up to be a problem with my main protagonist in some ways…..