Tag Archives: zombies

A to Z Story: jumpstart your brain

My youngest sister is a newly inspired, aspiring writer–kinda sorta.  She tried NaNo with me two years back and got a few thousand words into her gritty, noir, Gummy Bear mystery.  Last year technology kept her from participating.

However, she has a great sense of humor, loves fanciful things and wants to get writing again.  Yay her. 

She emailed me last night with a game.  Yay me.

Together, we will write a story from A to Z, passing our sections back and forth to be written as time and inspiration permit.  I hope we exchange passages every day, because the anticipation will kill me if I have to wait any longer than that.  In addition, if we keep to this timeline, we should write our way through the alphabet in one month. 

Jamie began with A, in what I suspect will end up a zombie story.  Ambling through the garden, staring at cauliflower and wondering what brains would taste like was my first clue. 

Broccoli, brains and biting started my B.  I think I pretty much cemented the  idea of a zombified short.

Although it really won’t be that short.  Jamie wrote 176 words and I followed with another 167.  If we average these numbers and multiply by the alphabet, we should end up with roughly 4,500 words by the end of June. 

Not bad for a little fun.

Better yet is the sheer freedom to create off the cuff.  I’ll use my letters to limber up my brain before digging into my real writing.  I think the creative juices will be helpful. 

Wonder what they taste like…?

My DD and I used to pass our time in the car by adding one sentence at a time to our stories.  I’ve seen bloggers attempt paragraph exchanges.  Great stuff comes out of silliness.  Like colonies of creatures living in belly buttons.  Or cauliflower munching pre-zombie zombies.  Like tweens just before puberty strikes!

If you want to join the fun, grab a partner and keep us posted on how it goes.  I’ll create a sidebar thingy to keep you updated on our progress.  Until then, you can answer some questions and let the rest of us know how you limber up your brain when your creativity crashes.

Do you participate in writing games to jumpstart your juices?  Have you played a similar game that Jamie and I are doing?  If so, how did it turn out?  What other prompts or dares have you taken to get in the groove and challenge yourself as a writer?

Inquiring minds want to know.  Especially before they get eaten…

The Not-So-Perfect Character

It was a dark and stormy night.

Okay, not stormy, but dark.  All shades of dark, actually, when I read the last words on Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  I won’t lie to you, this isn’t a book for the casual reader.  It has zombies–the Unconsecrated–who roam the land and feed off the flesh of living humans. 

I started at 8:00pm while my youngest wept his way through Harry and the Hendersons.  I closed the back cover shortly after midnight and flicked off the basement light to make my way upstairs.

Immediately, I was plunged into total blackness.  The tiny orange rectangle outlining the light switch did nothing but beckon me to flip it back on.  Instantly, the hairs on the back of my neck fluffed up like a German Shepard’s scruff. 

Reality is that Miss Ryan’s book wasn’t scary at all while I read it.  Not one iota.  Nor do I believe in zombies in any way shape or form.  And truly, if they are as shufflingly slow as they are portrayed across media in general and this book in particular, I had nothing to fear.  Even if they were real.  Sheesh, I could outwalk them on a good day. 

And yet, this knowledge didn’t stop me from wanting to sprint up the stair to my DH slumbering in bed.  Rather than give in to it, I forced myself to walk up each step.  It didn’t help that the night was cloudy with no moon or stars spilling through the windows.  The pitch black played right into my zombie induced imagination.  A feat worthy of noting since I am not easily spooked.

Which makes me believe that Miss Ryan did something right.  Even after closing the pages of her book, her characters stayed with me.  And not just the Unconsecrated.  While brushing my teeth (safely in the bathroom with DH between me and the zombies), I couldn’t let go of the MC. 

She was an anomaly to me.  At times brave, yet selfish.  She was motivated by the haunting memories of her beloved mother’s childhood stories.  Even as death and desctruction ripped through the tiny band of survivors, she pushed on.  Even when love…well, I can’t say any more for fear of spoiling the book. 

I don’t even know if I like Mary.  Yet she was so well fleshed out: such a contradiction of actions, so truly a teen in distress living for herself and something bigger than herself all at once.  She was real.  More real than the zombies who followed me upstairs.  More real because she wasn’t perfect.

Most of the time I like the MC’s of my favorite books.  Nay, I love them.  Not so with Mary.  Instead, I felt a deep connection with her and her drive to believe, to hope, to dream.  Her ability to push forward against insurmountable odds.  Her strength in motivating others to follow.

We would not be friends in real life, me and this Mary.  She is far too selfish.  And yet, I would respect her and her ability to throw herself in the middle of a dark and stormy night.  Zombies be damned.

As a reader, have you ever run across a character you don’t like, but connect with anyway?  What makes a good character?

As a writer, have you ever written an MC you don’t like?  If so, why?  And more importantly, how?  How do you pen an entire novel about a character you would not invite to your slumber party?

And for everyone: what value is there in not glamming up the MC? 

I, for one, get tired of the cliched characters.  The beautiful.  The smart.  The perfect size six and the uber-buff surfer dude in a suit.  The MC’s that are more wonderful than I will ever be who just seem a little down on their luck for the sake of a story. 

Whether Miss Ryan intended for Mary to be a bit selfish or not, it worked.  The companion book now calls to me from my night stand.