It might be best to open with this video, it’s a plot hole explainer from Shaun of the Dead and it’s pretty neat.
I’m a massive fan of satirical movies. They have this great way of exposing the weaknesses (and many of the strengths) of a given genre at storytelling. This scene lays out one of the key problems. How fast are those zombies? Because, if they’re slow, they can be avoided or bamboozled to some extent. They kind of play on this early in the film as Shaun is utterly unaware of the zombie threat for the first 10 minutes. Most zombies just seem like drunk folks. But as other problems draw the protagonists attention away from the looming threat the gathering zombies become their doom. Sure you can outrun a couple of zombies or avoid them for the most part once you have a crowd pressing against every conceivable exit you find yourself in a slow cooker of horror just waiting for the axe to fall. I found this video essay that does a good job explaining it. (warning, there’s a little zombie gore here)
You don’t have to adopt this guy’s take but I think it’s very worth considering.
The difference between fast and slow zombies is an early decision to make and will change the framing of the content. A fast zombie is a massive threat, just one that takes you by surprise is enough to wipe out a small group (if all you need is a scratch or bite to turn but contagion is another bigger question). Slow zombies, though, they represent a gathering storm, an ever present threat, forever pressing in on your little community. Because, the little community is usually the focus, the relationships that bind them together the conflicts that show daylight between them. Mixed motivations and poor communications. Slow zombies emphasize the human condition in this way.
Stay tuned for more writing from the WorldCraft Club as we explore worldbuilding and the crafting of fictional settings to inspire your creativity.
We’re happy to host guest blogs on here whenever we can, it gives James a break and let’s other people contribute their ideas. Let us know if you have a worldbuilding concept or strategy to get off your chest, we’d love to hear it.