Monday, April 26, 2010

Life lessons from Shaun of the Dead

I could have gone my whole life without seeing Shaun of the Dead. Alas, I will now never know what that life would have been like.

In this life, though, I have had a chance to reflect on certain lessons presented in the film, which are particularly applicable to those of us writing novels. Q: How do you write a novel? A: Be a zombie.

Now, your traditional zombie, as I have discussed elsewhere, is slow. But slowness, and I cannot emphasize this strongly enough, is his weapon. His quarry--i.e. the humans--underestimate him, believing they can spend long minutes staring at him in astonishment and still sprint away in plenty of time. Or the extra time may entice them (as in Shaun's case) into hatching over-elaborate plans that don't work. The zombie's slowness represents his relentlessness. You can shoot him; you can tear his arm off. He keeps coming. He takes his time because he knows, in the end, he will get there. You see? Slow is just fine. Slow is better, even.

It is also true that zombies tend to move in packs, and to multiply, which are keys to their success. As novelists, we can view these packs as the invaluable support we receive from our fellow writers, and our desire to gather in classes and conferences and writing groups. Yet it is also important to note that the individual zombie is not overly concerned with the doings of his peers. For example, some of them may zoom ahead. Perhaps they are those newfangled fast zombies, or maybe they are simply better zombies. It does not matter. Similarly, other zombies fall behind, have their brains destroyed, and so forth. The zombie feels bad when this sort of thing happens. He is not heartless. Still, he keeps moving forward.

So, you see what I'm getting at? Moving forward. Keep. Moving. Forward.

A question remains as to how zombies become this relentless in the first place. It appears that zombie-hood confers a sort of automatic lobotomy. For our purposes, this may be where the drugs come in.

(TC: we are both thinking of zombies today...strange...)

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