Zombie novella off to a good start
For those who don’t know, my February writing project is the zombie novella I wrote for Day One of NaNoWriMo – Choices. It was supposed to be 50k and ended up being 30k instead. I wasn’t thrilled with the length, but I think it works for this story. It doesn’t need to be longer. It probably would be if I went back and added in a bunch of stuff, but I don’t see that happening. There is a very simple plot to this story, and most of the action comes not from the zombies but by learning about the characters, and trying to drag out the story to fit some minimum word count would just be stupid.
This story came about based on a dare that my region sent out for NaNo. There’s a game that (I believe) one of the MLs came up with called “Make it Sadder,” due to his love of writing depressing literary fiction. Last October, as everyone was scrambling to plan (or not) for NaNo, someone came up with the idea of “A man goes to the grocery store. Make it sadder.”
I don’t normally use the dares that my region sends out, as I usually have enough ideas to work with on my own, but this one caught my attention. I had already been thinking of zombies lately, and this idea mixed with zombies perfectly. A man goes to the store because they ran out of food during the zombie apocalypse. How could I make that sadder?
Marcus, the main character, came to me fairly quickly. Usually my characters introduce me to them a little bit at a time, but he was much more forward. He told me that he was a college graduate with no real career prospects who was trying to take care of his wife and baby daughter. He lived with his friends from college, a group of nerds who managed to survive longer than everyone else they knew.
This is a zombie story, yes, but the zombies aren’t really the main focus of the story. I would compare this novella to Courtney Summers’ This is Not a Test in that way. The characters have their own issues and secrets outside of the zombie problem, and those issues are the main focus of the story.
I’m a bit late to the zombie party, I know, but this story wouldn’t let go of me. For a novella that I wrote in 24 hours, it’s actually quite good. Obviously it’s not perfect – there are so many inconsistencies with some of the characters that it’s probably easier to just delete several sections than to try to fix them. There were thousands of typos. I need to rearrange a few scenes and provide more information in others. I definitely need to add more description, as there’s not enough even for me, and I usually hate description.
But I still like it. I like the characters. The inconsistencies that I mentioned aren’t that crucial to the plot. They definitely need to be fixed, of course, but once I delete a bit of text, it won’t be that hard to fix. I finished the new outline on Friday, and most of the scenes are going to stay in the same order. I can only think of a few scenes that I need to completely rewrite or add. For the most part I just need to clean up the text and fix the typos and inconsistencies. I don’t need to completely trash the whole thing, or even half of it. This is definitely an exciting moment for me.
I just finished fixing the first chapter of the novella. There are six chapters total. The second chapter is the one that is going to require a lot of fixing, as I have almost no description at all, and I’ve decided to reveal one of the major plot points later, so I need to fix that. I’m looking forward to it, though. I’m hoping to finish the second draft this week. Of course, I also just got six new books from the library, so I might be a bit distracted. I’m going to try to find a healthy balance between reading and writing, though.