I don't like zombies.
In fact, I hate them. I wish they would all just stagger into a busy street and get run over by a bulldozer. I think the whole idea of humans being kinda dead, or half dead, or dead-but-not-really, is kinda sucky.
You can replace zombies with just about anything and your story won't change.
Like, instead of zombies, you might be chased by chickens that were fed grain that was grown too close to a nuclear energy plant. The chickens started falling over one day, then they laid there for two weeks, dead as deep fried drumsticks. Then, during the full moon they started waking up. They stumbled around the farmyard on their scrawny chicken feet. They're new desire: destroy humanity and take over the world. They're means: nuclear missiles (eggs) shooting out of their butts (I have no idea where chicken eggs shoot out of...)!
Now take any zombie story and replace the zombies with radioactive chickens. Not much will change. You'll have the world in chaos, people running from chickens, and death everywhere. You'll have survival, fear, confusion, and explosive omelets.
If it's not radioactive chickens, then it's vampires. If it's not vampires, then it's a corrupt government. Or aliens, Or bullies. Or Voldemort.
This is really a post about my praise for the writers of The Walking Dead. They've created one of the most engaging, character-driven stories I've every experienced, and they did it under the cloak of zombies.
The Walking Dead is NOT a story about zombies. It's a story about Rick, and Carl, and everyone else. Yes, there are bunches of themes to think about, and moral conversations to have, but in the end, you're glued to the series because the characters are so deep that you feel like you know them. You care about them.
It wouldn't matter if they were running from radioactive chickens, or mobsters, or a plague. It's the characters of the story that drive it forward.
This isn't just a post about The Walking Dead (I know, I keep lying). This is a post about writing good characters. If you're a writer of any kind, I BEG you to watch The Walking Dead. If fake blood grosses you out, then prepare to be ultra-grossed out. But once you get to know the characters, you won't even notice it anymore.
What you WILL notice is that you feel emotions for the pretend, completely made up, fictional, not-real characters.
Why? Because there are zombies chasing them?
The Walking Dead sets the standard for Character Development.
Watch it, or else...
What if zombies ate radioactive chickens?! What would happen?!
Thinking about it makes me so excited! .