August 30, 2011

a fragment of the end

Yep, more of the zombie book.  It's looking less and less like a young adult novel:

The soldiers neither wept nor wailed nor wrung their hands. But in unison, they spoke a stoic silence. It’s not my fault. I was just following orders.

Nobody spoke.

A moment of silence, not for the dead or for the living, but for the sense of relief that they had done their duty without blinking an eye. They slipped on their headsets and sighed a collective breath. By fear or by conquest or by dawn’s early light, it made little difference. Let the dead bury the dead. There’s a six-inch cheese steak waiting for me.

They walked in an un-zombie-like trance, unaware of the present, detached from the past, victims in their own minds of a go-to-college-free scam. Young men. Boys almost. Disconnected from time and space and place, feeling neither the relief of innocence or the remorse of guilt.

Mostly they were just tired. Maybe they would make love to a flickering image or get lost in a battle of apparition ideals. Or maybe they would talk about the Dodgers or the Packers or Manchester United and embrace the mirage of the mundane and ever-so-gently turn away from their memory.  Maybe later they would reconcile their actions and their humanity, but right now, my God, what they would do for a steak and cheese and a bed with real pillows.

The viewers at home were tired, too. The food was burning and they were fighting an insurmountable battle to keep a three-year-old from throwing his food on the floor and so they turned away, ever-so-slightly; amused, but mostly relieved that yet another monster had been slain. With every tug at a shirt or story from school or did you know what Margaret said about you yesterday, they soon forgot what exactly they were supposed to be afraid of.

The linguist sketched out a scene, grappling with his loss of words, until finally penning, with poetic precision, a piece on pretentious personification, "Death is not the battle cry and bag pipes offering the Dirge of Destruction.  Death is Apathy, arriving in plainclothes, drinking sweet tea and greeting us in denim jeans, slipping in with a seductively silent soliloquy. She lulls us into a dazing, dozing, dreamy denial. and steps into the calm complacency. Then finally, she asks us to kindly sit still as she taps her syringe  and then walks away. I am Apathy.  I have become Death."

Then he closed his book, refusing the silence of the semantic environment. His victory would be one of clarity.  “We witnessed genocide. We saw the death of a culture.”

“The truth is that cultures change. They die. They transform every time we rewrite our stories. To say that a race is dead or a culture is dead or a society is dead denies the deeper reality that a father and a mother and a son and a brother are dead. Today, humanity died,” the anthropologist answered.

“Maybe Apocolypse is the right word for it,” the linguist replied.  Then looking away, he whispered, “Maybe we shouldn’t try and put words to it.”


  1. Note to Self:

    Don't forget that this is absolutely a first draft. Too much passive voice. I need to use more action verbs. After all, genocide (even zombie genocide) is an action.

  2. So I reread this excerpt with active voice and it's much more intense and suspenseful. I would definitely recommend changing that (as you already suggested above).

    Soooooo, I'm just gonna say it. I don't think you need to worry about making your story fit into anything--YA, Teen, Adult or otherwise. Honestly, I think it's best if you just let your story grow organically. If you start impeding it with these expectations and restrictions of "you're supposed to be THIS" I think you're only going to end up getting frustrated and stunting your own story. Perhaps what you initially thought was a YA story will end up being more adult...or perhaps it will end up being a YA story. But you won't know until you write it.

    I know it's impossible to cut out the vision of a reader while you're writing, but perhaps, rather than envisioning an entire age-market of readers, try envisioning your PERFECT reader. They might be young, they might be old, but they're probably more witty, and thirsty for something intelligent that also allows them to indulge in and (dare I say it?)ENGAGE in geekery. I don't know what they are--they're YOUR perfect reader--they could be anything. Because honestly, what you have is really unique;I think it is going to be sophisticated, dark, and quirky but with strong heart that will make it appealing for a wide variety of readers from several different levels.

    But that's not our job to worry about, that's what agents and editors are for. I think you're used to thinking from that angle because you're used to having to market your own material. But that won't be the case for long. :) Give your inner editor a swift kick in the ass and tell him you're just going to write and enjoy it, and let it be whatever hybrid age it wants to be.

    **steps off soapbox**

    Haha, sorry!

    All that said I really like the excerpts you're showing. I'm so eager to hear more about what characters are interesting you the most!