Mar 262010

My fiction blog, ‘Still Alive’ is wrapped up and I guess technically not still alive because it is dead now. Now that it is finished I want to do an honest evaluation of it with it still fresh in my mind.

The big thing I want to point out is that I was not happy with it when I finished it in December. I felt like it was too slow in places and downright boring in other places. Part of this was deliberate as I felt that boredom would be the biggest threat to anyone’s survival. Playing it safe ca keep you alive but how many times can a man play monopoly against himself before he starts letting zombies get within swinging distance for curiosity’s sake? It is a case of striving for realism at the cost of being entertaining, and by the time I was finished writing I felt like I had made the wrong choice.

Funny enough, readers disagreed. They found even the most tedious parts interesting because hey, it was still boredom in a zombie apocalypse setting. At one point I realized that I hated my blog because I felt it came a distant second place to the fiction blog in my head. My readers never read this hypothetical better blog that only existed in my head, so they thought what I had was pretty all right.

My other big mistkae was not promoting it more fully. I have plenty of friends in the horror blogging community and they would have happily plugged it if I had just asked them. My own modesty prevented me and that is a real shame. 99% of my web hits came from this site. I am not saying that ‘Still Alive’ is the greatest horror fiction blog ever but hey, the people who would most enjoy it doesn’t know it exists. Next time I will not be so shy.

I had a lot of influences for ‘Still Alive’ but probably the best advice was something I read an indie role-playing game called Shotgun Diaries. I had been writing for months when I came across this 5$ game that looked like it was designed for my blog. It introduced me to the idea that no matter what you plan, complications will arise. It is such a simple concept but it really helped me finish the story as I went back and gratuitously added extra problems to every element of Jimmy’s life. Complications are not some sort of pessimistic world view, as much as it is the acknowledgment that the key theme of zombie fiction is entropy. All things break apart: bodies, society and even plans.

You should buy ‘Shotgun Diaries’. Even if you are not a role-player, this is a great writing guide.

t’Sade often mentions that when they did a fiction blog, it went on forever. It just wouldn’t die. I certainly felt that way after only three months. It was emotionally depressing to end the story. In my notes, I have an outline from where Jimmy would resume blogging. I toyed with the idea of maybe doing a weekly blog where he updates about the community he finds. I have resisted the idea because I realize that some stories just have to end. Jimmy’s story was really about him empowering himself. Once he made the choice to get out of Home Base II, he grew up. I had told the story I wanted to tell. If I kept going, it would be for sentimental reasons. That is a lousy reason to write by the way.

The last thing I want to mention is how happy I was with the logo. Always Aroused Girl designed it for me one morning off an off hand Twitter comment I made. I love the logo and felt it really set the tone I was looking for.

  2 Responses to “Still Alive Post Mortem”

  1. I felt like an idiot for waiting for the next update. I had no clue it was finished until people commenting were giving tear-filled farewells to Jimmy.

    I thought it was a great idea and blog, but I didn’t like the ending since it sort of dropped off. I understand that you can’t wrap up everything, like what happened to Chuck and the asshole at the book store.

    I look forward to the next one, if you do it again.

  2. Kitt- Ha, don’t feel bad. A Monday is a terribly anticlimatic day to end something.

    I am glad you brought up those points up. I toyed with a lot of climatic endings but I felt like they came across as if Jimmy might not survive whatever the reason he was leaving for. By making it under his own power, I was hoping to give the impression that he has a moderately happy ending.

    I will admit I like having unanswered questions in a story. Life is full of them. Chuck was a nice mystery because you have to assume he died, but then maybe he just got scared and ran.

    As for the book store, in my outline I planned to have Jimmy go to the store for books. He would have found the store open and filled with zombies. Most of the zombies would have been his boss and coworkers, still shuffling the aisles.

    When it came time to write it, I wasn’t so happy with the idea. It would have involved a lot of foot travel and I think it may have eroded the sense Jimmy had that he was confined to that neighborhood. I am not so sure now. I may have missed an opportunity there.

    Thanks for your comment. I should have totally included that in my post mortem lol.

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