Good writing evokes emotions in the reader. It doesn’t matter which emotion, really, as long as the reader can feel what your characters are feeling. It helps the audience connect with the story. One of the easiest emotions to convey, in my opinion, is fear, as it is a pretty universal feeling.
And the easiest way to terrorize your readers is to put something you are scared of in your writing. If you’re scared out of your gourd, chances are the readers are too, and that makes for a satisfying story.
That said, let’s talk about zombies.
First off, I would just like to say a few things about my feelings on zombies:
I hate them. I hate them so much.
Not because it’s an over-saturated genre, or because I am afraid of some biological outbreak, or because they are “stupid” or anything remotely along those lines. I hate zombies because they are entirely unsanitary.
When the apocalypse comes, I’ll be armed with a shotgun, a wet-dry vac, and industrial strength hand sanitizer because those suckers trail goo and puss like nobody’s business. ::shudder::
Based on my limited research–limited due to the fact that I will have nightmares if it is extensive–I have come up with a few categories for typical zombie scenarios.
The Shufflers: These guys are the zombies you see in the traditional zombie movie. Reanimated corpses in various states of decay that roam around muttering “braaaiinnnss” in slow motion. The will never outrun you, but they will overwhelm you. Their strength is in their numbers. Don’t get backed into a corner.
The Sprinters: These are the 28-Days Later zombies, or the Reavers of Firefly fame, that move like lightening and are ridiculously intelligent. Basically, you’re going to need extensive ammo and a sniper friend. And fire. Lots of fire.
The Voodoos: These zombies are controlled by a witch doctor, and are the only variety of zombie with real-world religious basis. You guys. They are real. I’m not sure how to feel about this.
The Specials: The special zombies are anything that doesn’t quite fit into the above categories, such as cybernetic zombies (those are a thing?), Star War zombies, which are reanimated by the dark side of the Force, and Harry Potter’s Inferi. You’re going to have to do your own research on these fellas, because I’m about to blow your mind.
Then, my friends, we have the Norse zombies. The Draugar.
During my research for the Viking novella that I am working, I stumbled across the draugar, which fall into two main behavioral categories.
Some just hang out in their tombs, guarding their sparkly shit and lamenting the fact that they are no longer living. They just want a friend, and are jealous of humanity’s ability to live. Thus, they have an insatiable hunger for human flesh and will attack unsuspecting tomb-raiders.
The others leave their snuggly graves and go on the hunt because of their jealousy for the living. Now, this is where it gets a little hairy.
You all understand that Vikings are buried with their weapons and armor. So the draugar are armed. With battle axes and spears and rusty swords, and are covered in chain mail. And they’re up, roaming the earth and shit! Do you all understand this? It’s pretty terrifying.
But wait! It gets worse!
The draugar are possessed with superhuman strength, can increase their size at will, retain some sense of intelligence and delight in the destruction they cause, and can move through the earth. Petrified yet?
They also have magic powers.
I want to make this clear. Draugar are magical, armed, super-zombies that can pop out of the ground anywhere they choose like demented daisies!
You guys. WE ARE SO FUCKED.
And I am so putting draugar in my Viking novella. I’m not sure how I’m going to write myself out of this one. Are there any monsters that terrify you all so much that you write them into a story specifically so you can annihilate them and get over your fears? Tell me about it in the comments!
Sidenote: I have yet to figure out how to properly insert media from other websites. Mr. Reedus’ picture is credited to Rick Marshall, derived from a work of Ana Dunn, found here.