Zombie Cliche Lookout: Children as Props
If you’re looking for a cheap, easy way to raise the stakes in your drama (zombie or otherwise), there’s probably no simpler way than to put a child or two in peril. Most people, even those who don’t really like kids, have a natural protective instinct about children. I’m no evolutionary biologist or anything, but I would imagine this is directly tied to our biological directive to propagate our species. Children are, after all, the future. Who wants to put their future in jeopardy?
This trick works even better when the children’s danger is horrible. It’s bad if a kid could drown, but it’s far, far worse to imagine a child getting eaten alive by an army of zombies. Damn, that got pretty dark right there. Sorry about that, I’m just trying to describe a cheap narrative trick to amp up the tension. Don’t read too much into it.
I’m not evil.
About this Episode:
That last panel was originally much longer, with Clark offering up a little more information about just how the kids would be okay. It was something I figured that Vicky would want to hear. However, it was not something that I thought fit with Clark’s character. So I rewrote it – a couple of times, in point of fact – to this new, casually dismissive version. I’m quite happy with the change.
Discussion Question: Cheap Writing Tricks
As mentioned above, kids in peril is an old chestnut in the writing world. It’s a pretty crummy trick, especially considering that most stories aren’t actually going to commit to the repercussions of their threats. That said, I wonder what other basic tricks like these you guys see a lot, especially if you find them irritating. Are there any that work well? How can a writer tweak one to make it less cheap?
Typo alert for today: “It was something I figured that Vicky would want to here.” here–>hear 😀
How do you manage to do this kind of typo, Dave? Or is it the auto-suggest feature on your mobile phone that does it? 😀
I have no idea. Typing too fast, not paying close enough attention.
Monday: i totally expect Vicky to throw a tantrum or something very close to it! 😀
Hah, maybe so.
Also, Dave, how are you coming along with the vans parked outside? I would like to know what we’re going to get ahead of time if possible. That way I don’t have to worry as much when I see what you actually use. 😀
I haven’t had a chance to figure it out yet. Been a very busy couple of weeks.
Most obvious trick to me is killing a boring/going nowhere character. Kill him the way you want but I want him gone LOL!
About children, I tend to agree, but I think it’s something that can backfire. You won’t put a child in the same situation you’ll put a more adult character. May work with kids but not teens,… Still have to be careful and give them a real reason to be here. Not just to raise the stakes, as you said, Dave.
Oh good call: the cathartic killing of the character everyone hates. (SPOILERS) The Walking Dead did that with Andrea and Lori.
This reminds me of the inverted “unkillable” character trope who seems to soak up damage and not die until the very end. They always seem to want the villain taken out at the last possible moment, but with extremely overdone offing of them! 😀
Oh man, that’s a good one too. Really drag out the release on the kill.