1. RabidChipmunk
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    RabidChipmunk Member

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    Can I Get Some Help With My Story, Guys?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by RabidChipmunk, Feb 10, 2011.

    I've wanted to write a story for a long time, and recently I've been piecing together bits and pieces for a zombie apocalypse story that I'm trying very hard to actually make original. For the most part, I have certain pieces of the story here and there very well thought out. I have the opening scene worked out, I have a tragedy worked in for the middle of the story, and I even have a nice, juicy plot-twist that's hinted at throughout the course of the story in a way that I hope makes it understandable yet surprising all at the same time.

    My problem is the story is set up like this: MC is infected with the virus, but thanks to taking a vaccine that the government hoped would curtail the virus in the US (but only worked in a handful of cases), is an asymptomatic carrier. He is in a lab being tested on (in medias res), zombies (referred to in my story as "Creeps") show and mess things up, MC escapes with the help of some of the lab employees and they all go out and try to take the MC to a new lab so the experiments can continue to be run (before you ask, the experiments are a good thing, and the MC is willing to help).

    I have the story figured out well once they get to the new lab, which is where the story gets juicy and exciting, but I fear that the journey there will devolve into me merely carting my characters along to event after event, and when the only enemies are zombies (and terrorists, mabye), I don't know how to keep things interesting enough until the climax. So can anyone here offer a newbie writer some tips? I pay.

    Well, no, I don't pay, but I'd still appreciate the help.
     
  2. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    First off, there's nothing wrong with having a story built around scenes (where something major happens) and sequels (where the characters react and plan their next action). Events aren't a bad thing. The book The Road is just a guy and his kid moving from food source to food source for two hundred pages, and it's awesome.

    Also, conflict doesn't have to be a huge, "if they get in we die" sort of thing, like threats from the zombies or the terrorists. You could have other issues -- supplies running low, time limits (either within the lab, like if there is only so many hours of electricity left, or outside the lab where many people are dying and every additional day kills another million innocents), ambiguous test results, personality conflicts, and so on.

    Maybe they're on the way to the lab and their initial route is blocked; they have to find their way around, through zombie territory. Or maybe the group splits up, and the doctors decide that it's more important to get the MC to the lab than to delay everything by saving the other half of the party. Or maybe the group is stopped by a local National Guard outpost, and has to choose between helping the people there (some of whom might need a doctor's help) and continuing on to the lab. If they go to the lab, they might improve the anti-zombie vaccine and save millions of people -- but if they do, some of the treatable injuries from the civilians at the NG outpost will die.

    Conflict can happen to people other than the MC. If he sees a doctor torn between potentially helping millions and helping a busful of kids now, that's conflict. If the National Guard people give the MC's group weapons and food because the MC's group is the outpost's main source of hope, that can be traumatic too. (Particularly if the NG outpost, now that it has given up supplies to help the MC, is unlikely to survive more than a few weeks.)

    Anyway, I hope that helps, or at least spawns more plotbunnies. Good luck.
     
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  3. -oz
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    -oz Active Member

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    An idea for a more suspenseful journey is for them to enter someplace for the night to rest, say a huge cathedral that's being used by a handful of others for shelter. They know the cathedral probably has a few zombies in it, but they're just staying in the narthex or nave and have relative safety. Sometime in the night, a tree or car comes, blocking the large heavy doors, and trapping them inside. They now have to make their way through the cloisters, either fighting or hiding, trying to escape and move on.

    It's just one more random idea, but you could take the principle and apply it to a bunch of places: supermarkets, subways, even a heavily-wooded forest or park.

    Going from event to event isn't all bad; if you need to break up the monotony, you could always tell a tale around a campfire to increase character development. Also, zombies can provide quite a range of emotions for your characters to experience: being scared (people don't like dying for some reason), enraged (if someone they love gets eaten), sadness/desperation (same reason), love (bringing real people closer together), and a general stoutness that comes from having to fend for yourself.

    Your story sounds exciting, I hope I get to read it someday!
     
  4. RabidChipmunk
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    RabidChipmunk Member

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    Thanks for some of the tips, guys. I especially like the cathedral and campfire bits, I think I might combine those two to create some nice character developments and then FUBAR the situation. I've been needing a circumstance in which the MC can divulge some of his secrets (mostly in the form of some very plot-important nightmares), and this'll be a wonderful opportunity.

    I am indeed trying to come up with conflicts that aren't just zombies and terrorists, and the best one I have so far involves the group coming across another asymptomatic carrier named Gordon who hasn't reacted to the experiments with the same enthusiasm that the MC has, since he's a paranoic, and when the group seeks refuge in his home, he welcomes them for a short while before fearing they're all trying to kill him so he starts trying to off them one by one.

    I've never read The Road, and I think I might, but the set up there of event to event might not work in my story. It depends, did The Road have a clear, obvious goal that the characters were trying to work to and the events along the way were merely sidetrips on the way there? Because that's kind of the predicament I fear my story's in, and I personally don't think it would work, but I suppose there can be a bit of simply "go here and then here" every now and again.
     
  5. -oz
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    -oz Active Member

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    Just one last quick suggestion for you: have you thought of conflict in the party? Not all conflict has to be brought by external sources...

    One phrase that's helped me out considerably while writing is by the great author Francis Porretto: The raw material of stories is people; the essence of story is change.

    Have fun!
     
  6. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    You could make a spin where the government was really in charge of the zombie breakout and it was all a huge conspiracy. ;)

    Sorry, I had to suggest it...lol.
     
  7. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why not just have the characters arrive at the lab, maybe make mention of some sort of an ordeal (that resulted in the loss of countless red-shirts), and then move on with the story you want to write?
     
  8. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Why not set up a really awkward conflict between your characters? Something that has nothing to do with zombies, but is an added plot aspect on its own.
     
  9. lelanddupuy24
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    lelanddupuy24 New Member

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    i'm not sure this will help you at all, but for some of the stuff i've been writing lately, especially sci fiction and political/psychological stories.... add special operations trained soldiers to the story. but what will definitely help is make it about the characters and not about the killing of zombies... so maybe the spec ops soldiers wouldn't help because then it would be about killing zombies. what makes the "walking dead" so successful, especially the comic book, is that it is about the characters, and you always know in the back of your mind that anyone can die at any time, including the main people.

    (every zombie story has normal people getting stuck in a bad situation, not knowing what to do, and surviving by lateral thinking, but eventually getting overwhelmed. i want to see a zombie story where the core group of characters aren't afraid of death, who have no problems with taking lives, infected people or non infected people, and are seemingly impervious to pain, and who know how to survive by any means necessary and with any means available to them. basically like a metaphor for the real world i guess... sharks swimming among guppies, whether militarily, in the business world, in politics, in high school and college, in marketing, in drug dealing, in retail and service industry, even in churches, and obviously in the ocean of course.)
     
  10. Vince524
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    First off, you can write in some personal conflicts. Maybe some of the people who are with him treat him badly, reminiscent of how people were treated back when Aids first came to the forefront.

    2nd off, love interest. Always good.

    3rd off, other survivors. You could come across a group that tries to take their supplies. Or you could put them in a position where they have to choose between helping a small group or keeping the MC safe.

    4th, maybe someone is tracking them for other purposes. Maybe there was a 2nd guy infected like him, but he did turn, just not all the way. 1/2 zombie, 1/2 psycho.
     

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