Writing Prompt: Zombies

Zombies Are Nuts About Brains

"Zombies Are Nuts About Brains"
Reproduced here with the special permission of Terry Border

I’m not a big zombie movie, book or video-game connoisseur, but, I am addicted to the zombie TV series “The Walking Dead”. So like a good fan, I watched the highly anticipated 2nd season finale (it had almost 9,000,000 viewers, which, for cable, is a staggering number, and that’s only the people who watched it live). The episode didn’t disappoint and I can’t wait for season 3 to start. For fun, I’m trying my hand at a writing a zombie story.

I realized something though, zombies are dead, and dead people smell… well, they smell dead. Smell is really hard to convey through a visual medium, but it’s almost indispensable for well-rounded writing. Now, imagine the smell of a corpse. If you’ve had live dissections in medical or nursing school, it’s not hard to remember the disgustingly sweet smell of decomposition. If, on the other hand, you’ve never smelt a dead person, it’s like a combination of the smell of rotting ham, then add to that, the smell of gas leaking out of a stove, with  just a whiff of  the scent of extra virgin olive oil.

In light of that tasteful description, try this writing prompt: describe the smell of a zombie, or zombies, chasing you down the streets where you live.

Happy writing, mwahahahahahahaha.

Sofia

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10 Comments to “Writing Prompt: Zombies”

  1. Two things:

    First, I went to this comic book convention over the weekend–it was a total nerdgasm–and got to hear this panel from the actors who play Shane and Andrea. It was so legit getting to hear their interpretations of what their characters were going through. Also, the guy who played Shane had an alternate ending for the season two finale–one which I thought was BETTER than the finale that aired.

    Second, this is such a great prompt! Whenever I think of those back-of-the-throat nastiness kind of smells I can’t help but bring some elements of taste into it. I remember when I was a kid my mom would use so much hair spray and the smell of it would get back into my throat and make me gag. I imagine describing that smell of death might kick of somewhere around there.

    • So, which was the alternate ending? I did hear that the scene from the comic was way better, but now I’m curious.
      And, I didn’t realize I’d compared the smell to food until I posted :-p But nasty smells do have a peculiar way of being connected to food, and sticking in memory. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Great idea, taking inspiration from such a fantastic show! Since watching the last few episodes of The Walking Dead I have been constantly planning a survival strategy, I’m definitely going to follow your lead and try writing a zombie story! That would be excellent preparation for a zombie apocalypse :)

  3. the smell in the anatomy department is mostly cheap embalming fluid and far removed from the real smell of death
    presumably zombies have no need for embalming fluid, though it might prevent them from deteriorating further. the question is whether the normal bacteria of putrefaction are able to function in the zombie hood, in which case the odors would become progressively worse; truly horrendous until only the skeleton is left
    the smell of a zombie pursuing you would be considerably worse that its bite

    • True, but even through the embalming fluid there you can still catch the distinctive scent of death, at least I think so. And I did use a little bit of poetic license in the description :-)
      Zombie lore does not seem to be very logical, you are right, there would have to be some special chemical zombies have for them to be permanently rotting and never really decompose completely, plus what kind of bacteria would feed on zombies? zombie eating zombie-bacteria?
      And I agree the smell would probably be worse than the bite. It makes me wonder how come protagonists of zombie stories, sometimes, don’t see the zombies coming. If they are decaying, would they not smell zombies coming from miles away?
      Thanks for commenting! very insightful
      Sofia

  4. Me too! I’m going to close my eyes and think about butterflies.

  5. Wow! That was a vivid description. Very well done. I’ve actually never had the smell of a corpse described in such vivid detail. And now I have to go to sleep!

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