Writing In Practice

The last four posts have been instructional - more a "how to" than a "look at what I did" - but today is all about what I did!  

Writing has always been an outlet for me and not all the time is it dedicated to my anxiety.  In fact, most of the time I am doing it out of pure pleasure. Recently, I wrote a review for a new television series that I highly recommend and in an effort to provide you with an example of some of what I produce when throwing my pen to page, I am posting it here for you to enjoy. 

Fear The Walking Dead: Robert Kirkman’s Zombie World Continues to Thrive.

Imagine waking up tomorrow morning to the sight of one friend gnawing enthusiastically on the jawbone of another, or your neighbour’s husband chasing her across the yard in a bloody attempt to relieve her of a leg – using his teeth. Imagine this, and, if you still manage to keep your breakfast down, you are exactly the fan-base creators, Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson, are looking for with their new AMC series, Fear The Walking Dead (FTWD).  

The network sibling to Kirkman’s highly successful The Walking Dead (TWD), Fear The Walking Dead explores events during the first six weeks of a zombie apocalypse that is the epicentre of both series. Focusing on the fractured lives of three families, Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson wanted to develop a storyline that exposed the realities and deep fissures of urban life while detailing with colour the inevitable decay of that civilization. 

Did they succeed?  Absolutely, yes!  

Part horror, part drama, FTWD not only successfully, but perfectly marries the traditional rules of a zombie apocalypse with the familiarity and pace of a modern and urban setting. What is most impressive about FTWD is its ability to maintain this realist perspective while adhering faithfully to the very fantastical aspects of the horror genre.  How does it succeed?  Simply put: because Adam Davidson is directing.  

Davidson borrows an old-school approach to the horror genre, relying on the tension of potential doom, as opposed to the presence of actual doom: It is not the sight of zombies and death that makes the fear real for viewers.  Instead it is the soundtrack; initially upbeat and in keeping with today’s music, it smoothly eases into a more suggestive soundtrack that begins to echo, distort, and fade as the scene builds to a potentially horrific crescendo.  As an audience member, you don’t need to see a rotting, moving corpse amongst rioting civilians to understand that the riot itself is not the scariest thing around.  The music tells you as much.  

In fact, the strength of this show – what sets it apart from its flagship series , The Walking Dead – is the fact that it does not depend upon the overt presence of blood, gore and zombies to keep its audience. Instead it relies upon a balance between new and interesting characters and an original take on an old theme.  

Now, to be clear, there are zombies, there is violence, gore and a solid amount of scares, but it is all so fluid in relation to the storyline itself.  It does not dominate the action.  It supports the action; it propels it forward.   

We watch as Nick and his mom try to kick start an at-home rehab program only to find their supply of pain meds frustrated by a growing “flu epidemic” that is effectively shutting down pharmacies and hospitals alike.  Their solution and means of acquiring the needed medication rests solely on the behaviours of modern society and would exist whether the zombies did or not.   

The brilliance behind this series is that, while it takes place during a zombie invasion, it revolves entirely around the basic everyday complexities of our modern world, such as addiction, divorce, diversity and a growing concern for violence in the schools.    

That being said, the one flaw FTWD does have, not unlike many films and television shows, is that it sometimes forgets we are an audience of sophisticated viewers, many of whom have a long history with zombie and horror genres. We are easily annoyed by foolish character moves or intrusive dramatic scenes.  The creators will need to keep this in mind if they want to avoid annoying their viewers.  

For example, the scene in which Travis Clark decides to investigate a potential crime in a condemned drug den at night, as opposed to during the day when he first learns about it. This cannot happen often; audiences will not tolerate it.  I would like to see the writers appreciate that their audience is more experienced than to accept that. 

While it has been said many times by the creators of Fear The Walking Dead, there will be no crossover from TWD. However, FTWD will catch up to the timeline eventually; at which point it will be interesting to see if the series can maintain its independence.  

Still, despite these flaws and the incredibly high standards and expectations of a sophisticated fan base, Kirkman and Erickson have created a horrifically fabulous new view into the world of the walking dead. Tuning into this action-packed adventure, entering into the urban world of the undead, is sure to delight loyal fans of The Walking Dead series and successfully entice new fans to join both adventures.

Photo Credit: Maciej Pawlik


Jenn ‘Niffer’ Fryer is a mother, a wife and a writer, enthusiastically scribing her way through life as it continues to entertain her pen.  Currently in her second year at Algonquin College’s Professional Writing program, Jennifer is actively putting her skills as a writer to positive and affecting use, both in her community and beyond.

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