Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Writing A Zombie Novel

by Jeanette Raleigh


When I first decided to write The Zombie Cowboy Two-Step, I picked out a couple of Stephen King’s books and studied the way that he builds intensity into a story. It amazes me how many pages King can write while still holding a reader’s attention. For example, he wrote 300 pages of build up while character after character suffered various effects of the plague in The Stand, while the average author would have made it 80 pages long, if that. That is some serious tension!

Horror requires a dark setting. The best scenes paint a dark and yet specific picture of what the characters experience. They use words that describe the events with clarity, whether it’s snapping bones or the gleam of light on a withered hand, the bang of a window shutter or the sickening smell of rot. Vivid descriptions draw the reader close and allow them to experience fear. Word usage can be fun with zombies. Splatters and splats. Oozing. Crunch. And then there's the sloppy body parts.

The best horror stories dangle the safety of characters before the reader, bringing them into ever more dangerous and deadly circumstances until they defeat the evil or die in the attempt. The favorites are put in dire life-or-death circumstances, lose loved ones, or watch a disaster unfold that they are helpless to stop. Just when the reader thinks it’s safe, something worse happens.

Tension can be built in other ways as well. By hinting at danger or leaving clues, the story becomes a slower boil, allowing the reader to become familiar with the characters before sending them into true danger. Psychological horror stories use this kind of build-up.

The slow boil is vital to a good horror story. Suspense, created word by word, draws the reader in for a page-turner, anxious for a happy ending in an ever downward spiral into the terrifying darkness that is waiting at the end.

And on that cheery note, I currently have a horror out. The Zombie Cowboy Two-step

Although if your interest leans more toward paranormal romance, there is also Moon Struck

Don't stop there, folks. Jeanette has several books out on Amazon, many with 5-star reviews.

I had a lot of fun reading The Zombie Cowboy Two-step, so I’m really glad Jeanette stopped by and shared some of her wonderful tips on how to write about zombies with us today. It’s a perfect book to read during this spooky season of Halloween. Thanks again, Jeanette. I really appreciate the time you took to share these fun and interesting writing tips with our audience.


Writing and publishing isn’t easy, but it’s always a little better when you’re working with a few friends. Here’s to all the authors out there! Thanks for stopping by,

M. J. 

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Zombies Night of the Living Dead, George A. Romero, PD-US