The Muse on Zombies

ME: I imagine it's a bad sign when I'm less than 3,000 words into the story and already reimagining the beginning.
MUSE: Yup.
ME: I always want to think stories in linear time.
MUSE: Too bad that sucks.
ME: It really does.
MUSE: You know why, don't you?
ME: The first thing that's important isn't where the story begins. The story begins with the first thing that's different.
MUSE: You're not still listening to Orson Scott Brownshirt, are you?
ME: Just because he's a right-wing homophobic asshole doesn't mean he's not right about writing. I liked SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD.
MUSE: And was that linear?
ME: Oh, shut up.
MUSE: So where does the story begin?
ME: The scream. Jeff Pagliei's scream in the street.
MUSE: That kicks Sara right into soldier mode. We'll never see her out of soldier mode.
ISABEL: And they'll hate her. She's way too cold.
MUSE: She is not.
ME: She's not cold. She's efficient.
ISABEL: Nobody's gonna like her if we don't see her be human first.
MUSE: People appreciate a lead with strength. No weakling is going to survive a zombie invasion.
ME: Flashbacks.
MUSE: Christ, not again.
ME: We have to let people know where the zombies come from.
ISABEL: Point of fact? They're not really zombies.
ME: They're sort of zombies. I can play with the conventions.
ME: Shush.
MUSE: Can we get back to how the beginning sucks?
ME: Two soldiers sharing a cup of coffee, and that conversation tells us where the zombies come from, and establishes the friendship...
MUSE: Huh? Sorry, I nodded off.
ISABEL: But... but..
MUSE: Shut up, Snow White.
ME: The scream in the street.
ISABEL: And how do we have them give a damn about Sara? Or Gary, or Paul, or Parish?
ME: Language, my goodness, Isabel.
ISABEL: Well, I just don't want to waste 20,000 words on people we don't care about.
MUSE: They'll care.
ME: When they see Parish gnawing on Jeff's arm. The universal taboo of cannibalism.
ISABEL: Not enough.
ME: Flashbacks.
MUSE: Mother-fuck.
ME: Get with the program, would you?
MUSE: This is a camel of a story, that's for sure.
ISABEL: Camel?
ME: A horse designed by committee.


  1. You keep returning to flashbacks, but how about just imagination? Like, a kind of Mundy (is that right) moment every so often, where the reader gets to see what Sara would do if there weren't flesh-eating zombies making her life inconvenient.


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