My ‘The Walking Dead’ Writing Process

Spoilers Warnings

BIG WARNING: due to different time zones and you possibly getting to see Season 7, Episode 1 before others, please, please, please DO NOT comment on this episode or give away any spoilers. I will set zombies on you if you do.

Smaller warning: this post contains details from Seasons 1-6, so go get caught up quickly if you’re behind. Don’t forget to come back though. I could do with the readers.

Shameless self-promotion?

Never let it be said that I am shamelessly self-promoting by writing about The Walking Dead when the new season is starting today *tries to contain excitement*.

That would be like some kind of proper grown up blogger marketing strategy *shudders*. I’m just a little obsessed ‘tis all.

I’m not watching that zombie crap

I told the Husband many times I wasn’t going to watch it. I asserted my right not to be grossed out by zombies and the resulting gore of their actions. I even watched a few episodes and warded off a vomit explosion when they covered themselves in zombie juice.

Then I got depressed and bored. I think my propensity for being horrified was dulled by the horrors taking place inside me. I decided to try watching this zombie fest and see what all the fuss was about.

A month later and I have caned my way through all six seasons. Did I mention I was bored? Bloody hell, this stuff is gripping.

Zombies have feelings too

I am happy to confess that I was wrong. It is not about zombies at all. Okay, yes, it is. They’ are every-freaking-where but they are rendered almost invisible as you watch sharp plots evolve and characters change.

I’m jealous of the writers of The Walking Dead.

I wish I could create such amazing character arcs.

I wish I could write about stabbing half-dead creatures in the head with such finesse.

I wish I could meet Andrew Lincoln and thank him for making television fabulous, not only with this offering, but also in This Life and Teachers.

The Walking Dead Half Zombie
I feel like half the woman I used to be.

I wish I could sit at my writing desk and ask myself, ‘What would Carol do?’ Clue: pretty much anything.

Now I even feel empathy for zombies. It’s a shitty gig walking slowly, with a shuffle, garbling nonsense, decaying, and projecting a dead-behind-the-eyes stare. I guess that feels a little too close to home nowadays…

The Walking Dead characters are bad ass. They have got their shit together, kind of, until the awkwardness of the Season 6 finale happened.

Therefore, in this time of still trying to figure out this writery business, I’m going to ask them how to do this. So, you lovely killers, show me the way…

The Walking Dead Writing Process

 

Carol

Unlike me, Carol is a pantser rather than a plotter. I think that my perfectionist tendencies can occasionally make me a little static in my writing.

Carol, The Walking Dead
Carol’s ‘killer’ cookies with added cough drops.

Therefore, in future I will consider using more of ‘The Carol Method’. This involves making spontaneous decisions, acting immediately upon inspiration, and unabashedly veering from the plan if it doesn’t seem to be working.

I will, however, avoid Carol-esque scenarios with looking after children, directing them to look at flowers, making cookies, or offering a cure for a bad cough.

Daryl

Daryl would make a great critique partner in that he’s harsh, but fair.

Daryl, The Walking Dead
Poised and ready to cull the bad words.

The relationship may be somewhat one-sided though as I really wouldn’t want to be critiquing anything Daryl has to offer. Do you fancy your chances of not getting an arrow in your arse for telling him that he could do with a bath?

I’d just give him my work, ask for feedback, and then adjust it to the letter. It may not result in being my breakthrough novel but I’ve seen how quickly that man can skin a rabbit.

Carl

Carl could be my writing buddy. He’s a relative newbie to the world in which he now finds himself so we have some common ground.

Carl, The Walking Dead
Carl will (partially) oversee your work.

I will accept older Carl as my writing companion over younger, whingey Carl who had some serious adolescent issues. I’ve served my time working with angsty teenagers, thanks very much.

I may resist asking Carl to cast an eye over my work. I think this may piss him off. I’m not messing with a boy who can shoot his own mother in the head.

Judith

Judith is that friend who isn’t a writer but provides the warm and fuzzies of support; nothing beats just washed baby smell for making a person go all gooey inside.

Judith, The Walking Dead
The silent but deadly assassin.

Judith has displayed a superior capacity for keeping calm in high pressure situations.

She would also be a great sounding board for new novel ideas in regard of keeping them confidential as (a) she cannot talk and (b) she can really hold her shit together when surrounded by beings trying to extract something from her i.e. hungry zombies who fancy a light snack.

I’m a little wary of Judith though. If she’s Shane’s daughter then she may have his murderous mean streak. This could result in her either secretly becoming a major author from stealing my writing ideas or the next superior zombie slayer. In the instance of a zombie apocalypse, ’m hoping for the latter.

Michonne

Michonne is a born editor. She would be amazing at slashing away the unnecessary written faff.

Michonne, The Walking Dead
Slayer of repetitive words.

Michonne can spot deadwood (or dead people) a mile off and culls without regret.

That woman doesn’t only kill her darlings (remember the boyfriend and friend who became her zombie pets?) but any other thing that has a whiff of the undead about it.

Consider your first draft ripped to shreds in Michonne’s hands. It’s for your own good.

Maggie

Maggie can show me you how the first draft is done.

Maggie, The Walking Dead
What you see isn’t always what you eventually get.

Like a first offering, she is full of surprises, constantly evolving, and a paradox of ‘WTF’ moments. One minute she’s a sweet and sassy farm girl, the next she’s poking a zombie’s eyeball out.

With Maggie as my first draft muse, I will learn never to judge by first appearances. She also has a second draft, i.e. a baby, waiting to come to fruition, barring a whack from Lucille.

Glenn

Dependable, lovable, no longer a gopher but a leader in his own right; Glenn would be the trusted go-to man for the revising process.

Glenn, The Walking Dead
I have a feeling my revisions may be on hold…

He takes from his Maggie first draft and revises his and her lives to make them the best final draft they can be *sigh*.

Glenn is not afraid to constantly revise his stance and his plans. He scrutinises what he has and makes the best of a bad situation.

Flipping heck, I really do need this man to get to work on my novel. Pronto. Spare him for now, for the love of the book, please Negan.

Rick

Rick will one day be my agent.

Rick, The Walking Dead
“For crying out loud, can’t I even go for a walk in peace?”

I want Rick fighting my corner and defending me and my work against the potential brain-dead negative reviewers, the evil rejecting publishers, and the life-sapping self-promotion.

Rick will not hesitate to conquer them all. Rick always has a plan. Although maybe we will discuss any actions he wishes to take prior to his seeing them through.

I’d rather not land up on my knees wondering if my head will be used as a baseball, akin to the scathing end of an Amazon reviewer’s vitriol.

The Zombies

It’s a tough life being a zombie…

Flailing around, trying to sniff out something to get their teeth into, deprived of sustenance, feeling half dead,and wandering aimlessly.

Yep, that’s an analogy for a writer if I’ve ever heard one. Keep walking, horde, keep walking…

Season 7 is just about here!

This post was obviously written before the ‘Who got whacked at the end of Season 6?’ business was revealed.

Negan, The Walking Dead
Negan has his won unique method for dealing with plagiarism.

If you have read the comics then it was that person. However, the TV series doesn’t always follow the comics so it could be that person instead. It might even be more than one person.

I know who I have my money on. I’m giving nothing away, mainly so I can say I was right afterwards and you will never know the truth.

Update

I’ve now watched the episode and I’m off for a lie down. Tense, horrifying and emotional, and that was just the first minute.

About Lisa Sell

Lisa Sell is a fiction writer and blogger. When not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, the cat, and the Husband. Not particularly in that order.

42 comments on “My ‘The Walking Dead’ Writing Process

  1. Great post and quite timely for myself. I love the series although I’ve only been watching the seasons as they get released on Netflix. I was in Florida last week and they had a Walking Dead marathon on all week, catching up to the 7th season premiere tonight. I got so caught up watching prior seasons, as soon as I got back home, I marathoned the final 4 episodes of Season 6 to get caught up. I won’t watch tonight, although it will be hard to avoid finding out who got whacked (I’ve read all the rumours too).
    I love your post, your selections and character interpretations are spot on. Enjoy the 7th season!

    1. It really is that gripping, isn’t it Mike? I’ve had time on my hands and just ploughed through them, particularly as I wanted to watch new episodes at the same time as everyone else. This is to avoid the inevitable spoilers too!

      I’m pleased you enjoyed reading this post. The characters certainly have a lot to offer to a writer! Hope you enjoy the new season too!

  2. Okay, I came here to read your post, but decided to skip it because of the spoilers! We can’t watch this season until it pops up on Netflix because we got rid of cable. Seriously considering getting cable just to watch The Walking Dead! Gonna follow your blog.

    1. We do a paid subscription here in England just for this so I do understand! I couldn’t bear being behind everyone else and having to try to avoid all the spoilers!

      It would be great to have you following my blog and I look forward to hearing what you think once you’ve caught up! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    1. Honestly, whatever you’re probably thinking it’s like, with all respect, you’re probably wrong.

      I’m so bored of zombie movies and TV shows. I’d had enough of them. The Husband got to Season 4 and I then decided to give it a go because of how much he was loving it. Marital harmony and all that.

      Now I’m all up to date and he’s behind!

      Give it a go. You may just be surprised. Sorry if my post gave some things away but at least you know what to look for now! Thanks so much for commenting.

  3. I also binge-watched Walking Dead (while trying to avoid thesis writing…). Also equally excited for the new season starting. I wasn’t thrilled with the writing decision of the season finale cliffhanger, but at least the waiting is over!
    Some great character analysis there.

    1. Thanks Natalie. I’ve binged my way through many a box set when I was working on my dissertations!

      I’m intrigued to see how the writers will play this one out. I’m pretty certain it’s going to be emotional! They’ve certainly gone for the tense angle.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

    1. I’m really not about marketing strategies as this blog is a humble thing. I wrote this post because like many others, I’m excited about the new season and the reveal. It just so happens that I may meet some fab fellow fans like you along the way – bonus!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited my daughter is about this. This is all I have heard about today. Your post was a really awesome read. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I haven’t written anything about the new Season 7 episode so you’re safe to read until the end if you watched up to the end of Season 6, as the beginning says! Fair enough if you haven’t though. Don’t want to spoil it for you! Thanks for commenting.

  5. So, to be honest I haven’t watch the TV show but this post is driving my interest to watch the show,season by season. On the other hand, I liked your writing style in which you have described the zombie characters. I know, I couldn’t relate it but enjoying though. Good luck Lisa.

  6. Loved the post! You got through all the important characters, although I’m some of the others also have their own important writing methods to contribute, like Eugene, Sasha, Rosita, and Abraham.
    Just a quick comment. I’m still can’t get over last night’s episode. Arrgh!

    1. I agree Fabiola! I could’ve written about so many other characters and was tempted but that would have been a very long post! The missing certainly would have qualities to lend to the dream writing team.

      Now that I have watched the episode, I’m still gasping in horror hours later! It was incredible and heartbreaking.

  7. hahaha! EPIC post! omg that judith picture had me in stitches. I would love to have Daryl & Machone in my corner when writing, that would be awesome coz they are badass & wont let anyone disrespect me lol.
    Unique post twist, i liked it.
    Gonna follow you on social media platforms so we can chat about that season 7 premiere.

    1. Pleased you enjoyed the post Enricoh! Judith probably will be this scary when she’s older. She will be a pretty mixed up teenager considering what she’s been through already!

      Look forward to engaging with you more on other social platforms and exchanging the shock of THAT episode! Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  8. Clever article.. I haven’t watched the new episode yet, ugh I’ve heard all about it though, I’m tense just thinking of it!

    1. Did you grow bored of it Beth? I found season 3 a bit ploddy and I wasn’t a fan of the whole Governor plot. I held on in there and I’m glad I did now!

      I’m pleased you enjoyed my post though and how I used the characters as the dream writing team! If you ever start watching it again, let me know your further thoughts.

      Thanks so much for commenting.

  9. Wow! I’ve never watched the show and probably won’t because it’s not my particularly favorite genre, but you did a fantastic job describing the characters and relating them to the writing process. They all sound like they would be great assets to have on your literary team. Great job. Thanks for keeping me intrigued!

    1. It’s not my genre either which makes it all the more strange that I love this show! As the post states though, it took a while to give in! I am very rigid in sticking to my favoured genres, both in TV and books. I’ve been trying to break out of this and try genres I protest to hate. It’s been enlightening in both showing me I’m right and wrong!

      I’m pleased you enjoyed reading the post and thank you for commenting.

    1. The Carol Method would certainly get things done but I’m not so sure about the aftermath! Daryl and Michonne would be amazing in their roles. But Glenn… what can be said? Just, but Glenn…

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  10. OMG… I loved this! I’m so glad my editor isn’t QUITE as cutty-slashy as Michonne…

    Living in Germany, I’m going to have to wait six months before they air season seven here… 🙁

    1. Oh no Lisa! I bet it’s hard to avoid spoilers having to wait that long.

      You’re right, Michonne certainly would be a scary editor!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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