1. Crimson Dragon
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    Crimson Dragon Member

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    Zombies- Are they overdone or do they still have a place?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Crimson Dragon, May 6, 2013.

    Zombies. For a long time now they've dominated popular media. TV shows like the walking dead, books like World War Z and movies, too. Zombies have been done so much that they may be overdone. The issue with that? One of my less "anime-esc" plots is focused around zombies, but not in the usual way. Instead of being focused on a post-apoc setting and a survival narrative the story takes place during the breakdown of civilization and is focused around a mad scientist who was the one responsible for creating the zombies in the first place. It's more light-hearted in tone, has eccentric characters(some of whom have supernatural powers) and features unusual zombies with their own strange abilities. However, despite taking zombies in a different direction the story still is one about the undead. So, my question is should I wait to write this story, allowing time for zombies to become less overused and cliche' or should I not care about zombies being overused and write it anyway?
     
  2. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    I wouldn't wait. You'll have a better chance while Zombies are popular, 'cause when they aren't, yours won't be either.
     
  3. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    If over used plot devices actually killed a work's potential, Hollywood would have gone belly-up years ago. If you write a compelling tale, it will be marketable regardless of topic. I have a zombie story that I'm (slowly) working on. I see zombie tales in print constantly. To paraphrase the biker generation 'Write on man. Write on.'
     
  4. Sunny1000
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    Sunny1000 Member

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    I think that if you write something interesting - overdone or not - people will eat it up. If you try something different with the whole zombie-scene you might be able to create some interest too for example the movie Warm Bodies. I'm intrigued by it simply because it is trying something different with the zombie topic.
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Not everybody likes the same thing, that's for sure. I dislike zombie stories (and vampire stories too, for the most part) and probably will never critique one, for fear my prejudice would show! However, I suspect that if the story is well-written, not only will it entertain today's fans, but will last a while as well. I wouldn't worry too much about fashion. Just write a good story, and good luck!
     
  6. tupbup
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    tupbup Member

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    Zombies seem to always be about whether its a new film, a book or a TV show. Even if its a bunch of people holed up in a building trying to fight their way out with an imminent birth in their ranks, if its done well it will be received well. I do like zombie films and sometimes their repetitive and predictable nature is actually reassuring. If the effects / loose plot are good then I'll watch and enjoy it. I've only ever read one zombie book and it was pretty good (Patient Zero, Jonathan Maberry) but I didn't go in for the whole series. Zombies as a weapon was a nice idea but I think the pull of the zombie genre is the gruesome visual effects and the feeling of being hunted in video games. I think so long as your narrative is character focused it will be successful regardless of if the general public is swamped or starved of zombies.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Nothing is overdone. I haven't seen a zombie story I'd bother reading, but that's my personal choice, based on having seen too many dull, predictable treatments.

    Tell a good story, and it doesn't matter how much cruft there is in the genre or sub-genre.
     
  8. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Zombies are still popular. They just need better stories.
     
  9. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    I think that you'll be okay if you'll write it in a realistic society, I suppose. If you have read WWZ, you know that one character talks about brainstorming they did on the subject of "What if the Israelis are right?" (Israel, in the novel, is the first country to officially recognize the zombie threat as real, and declares it in the UN). The guy tells about how they brainstormed it while smiling to one another and cracking jokes, even after making entirely serious, professional, and relevant comments. In other words, the military personel in that story behaved the way you would if your boss would ask you to brainstorm the reaction to a possible zombie apocalipse.

    I had an idea for a zombie story myself recently. Admittedly, it was inspired by Mr. Brooks. I made sure to do two things:

    1. Change it up a little. You'll notice that many different vampire stories vary on what are the true strengths and weaknesses of vampires. You can also see it with zombies. Sometimes they're the long dead people who rose, and sometimes they're just people who went into the ocean, got bit by something, and started biting other people, without anyone actually rising from a grave. I make certain races react differently to being bit.

    2. Make the society be "ours", like I said. A society that knows the zombie myth and recognizes it as some silly things that cannot possibly happen. My idea includes a guy who flips through channels and sees how each news network invited someone like George Romero and Max Brooks on. Remember, when 9/11 happened CNN had Tom Clancy on.
     
  10. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    All concepts have been done before. I don't think anything can be overdone if it is done correctly. You could take two writers and give them the same concept and both would have their own take on it that would be different. Your voice as a writer will be what makes it unique. Your treatment of the subject matter will be what makes or breaks a story not the concept. I've read many books that had great premises that wound up being terrible in execution. It's all about how it's done.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The last time I read a zombie story I really liked, it was Night on Mispec Moor by Larry Niven. It's still a good story, even with all the "hack the hordes and don't get a scratch" tales out there.
     
  12. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    I haven't read any zombie stories but I'm a big fan of zombie films. I think the whole appeal of zombie films is the whole "what if" concept. What if this happened to you? How would you survive? Will you survive? What would you do? Where would you go? That's why you've got this whole phenomenon of people "prepping" for the zombie apocalypse. It's also an interesting subject for people due to that age-old human question of what happens to us after death; and if life's really worth living.

    I think it's also an interesting question to ask, "what do zombies symbolise?". Zombies are or were once people. I think that's what makes them so scary. The threat of a loved one or someone close to you becoming a mindless, flesh-eating monster. It can also be an obvious metaphor for conformity and provide social commentary (whether it's intended or not). Look at Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" and tell me that's not a critique of consumerism.

    That being said, I'd like to care more about the characters who survive in zombie stories. And a little more variation to them. Mediocre zombie flicks deal with their characters in the same way trite slasher flicks deal with them. They're just bland, flat and whiney and you're just waiting for them to get their heads ripped off.

    I believe in knowing the genre before attempting to tackle it: the conventions, what to do, what not to do and what breath of fresh air can be brought to it. So here are some of my favourite zombie flicks I recommend:
    - Night Of The Living Dead
    - Dawn Of The Dead (both original and remake, which was surprisingly decent)
    - Shaun Of The Dead (the best zombie comedy IMO)
    - 28 Days Later
    - Dead Sno (Norwegian comedy)
    - Zombieland
    - [Rec] (Quarantine's Spanish original)
    - The Resident Evil series are good for mindless entertainment.
     
  13. foiler
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    foiler Member

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    Clearly, lots of people like zombie stories. Come up with a unique spin on it, and you got a built-in audience.

    If you need to speak with an actual zombie about this, try to catch me before my morning coffee. :)
     
  14. NathanRussell
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    NathanRussell Member

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    If I had one piece of advice to give you it would be this: take that piece of paper and write sideways (figuratively, of course).
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    of course they're often done, but so what?... everything's been done over and over and over...

    and by the time you can get your book written, edited, polished, then snagged an agent who's snagged a publisher who will take 18 months to 2 years to put your book on bookstore shelves, years will have passed and they may have been 'gone' long enough to be 'new' again!
     
  16. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Do it as soon as possible. If it is great, it'll work, no matter if the zombie bubble has burst or not.
     
  17. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    If you're saying it'll work as long as the writing is good, why are you saying to do it as soon as possible? That is somewhat of a contradiction.

    I would say plan the piece carefully. You should put your own spin on it nowadays (look at The Walking Dead's emotional drama; that's a pretty new idea for zombie stories, I think), but even if you don't put a spin on it, as long as the story is good and your characters are memorable, there is no reason why it can't work. I've often been tempted to write a zombie novel or two myself, but I haven't even begun to plan it yet. Someday, maybe...
     
  18. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    As soon as possible, in order to be great. As in he or she shouldn't wait and time it to whatever events are happening out in the world. They should just write the story. Don't hold off trying to time it, nor rush it to time it either.
     
  19. Maxitoutwriter
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    Maxitoutwriter Member

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    Overdone or just right? Clearly it meets a demand.
     
  20. Victor M. A. Ramos
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    Victor M. A. Ramos New Member

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    I like to say that there are two strands for the zombies thing. There is the ones with emotional drama and the ones without it where people run and kill zombies as it was something normal. I haven't seen a zombie movie or book get the worst of the human's psychological capabilities, if a zombie outbreak ever happened I couldn't think of people in another way than completely crazy, it is something that I always wanted to explore.
     
  21. Vince524
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    Vince524 Member

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    I love zombie stories. Many of the ones I've gotten off of my Kindle aren't great stories through, but when they work, they're really great. Just make it a good story and not just about being chased and eaten by corpses.
     
  22. Crimson Dragon
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    Crimson Dragon Member

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    Thanks for all the input everybody. I'm glad to know that the zombie genra is not dead yet. Anyway, as for my story it's not the typical survival narrative about a rag-tag assemblage of once-ordinary people who now have to fight for their lives. It actually focuses instead around the person responsible for creating the zombie virus in the first place(sorta...I don't want to bother explaining the whole plot here) so needless to say it has a very different perspective from most zombie stories. So I should be safe.
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Nope. It's still shuffling along, dragging a mutilated foot, and moaning incoherently.
     
  24. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    You've summarized my thoughts quite aptly there Cogito. More often than not, in my opinion, zombies are a drag.
     
  25. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Just as Godzilla and mad scientists were the definitive monsters of the Nuclear Age and epidemics and aliens (and their kissing cousins cannibalistic rednecks) are the definitive monsters of globalization, I believe zombies are the definitive monsters of the Internet Age. Zombies reflect growing ignorance (such as by circular references on the Internet) and fear of being unique (such as by loss of privacy). They are the mindless, lifeless contagion of pop politics/culture/"academics". They are the monsters of Facebook. If I'm right, then zombies will stay current for a long time and there will continue to be a demand for good zombie stories.
     

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