Zombie Cliché Lookout: Oh Yeah, Zombies
In zombie stories, the zombies aren’t the only issue with which the characters have to deal. No, there are always other problems, from securing food and water, to finding shelter, to interpersonal conflicts within the group. It’s almost as if these stories are trying to tell us that the zombie apocalypse isn’t going to be a picnic.
But here’s the thing. All those other issues? They kind of have to take a back seat when the cannibalistic ambulatory corpses show up on scene. It’s call prioritizing, and survivors who can’t prioritize don’t tend to last very long. The trouble comes when people get so wrapped up in their other issues that they somehow completely forget they’re standing in the middle of the street, in a city that’s been completely overrun with the walking dead. Sometimes they’re lucky enough to get a frightening little reminder, and sometimes they’re just lunch.
The weird thing about zombie stories is that the writers have to balance things out. That means that, despite the fact that there are walking corpses everywhere, people still have time to have leisurely conversations to develop their characters, and in depth fights to help add dramatic tension. Also: exposition. So much exposition. But when the writers sense that the audience is getting bored, in come the zombies to make things interesting again.
Discussion Question: New Recruits
In the zombie apocalypse, you will invariably run into other survivors, and some of them are going to want to join up with your team of survivors. How do you decide who gets in and who has to jog on? Is it based entirely on merit? Do you let in the skeezy looking guy who knows how to distil fuel, but turn away the mother of two with no practical abilities? How much emphasis do you put on your gut feelings about people?