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Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago

Hi, so I took a break from this for almost a year, but something brought me back. I started this story a while back, and coming back,  I have decided to try and get it finished (which means like 99% more of the story, since I only did the first like, 8 pages). But I read more stories, reread some (not disappointed with either), and came to the conclusion I should DEFINITELY ask for tips if I want to make this an actually good story (I'm a perfectionist, so I like to get things right the first time around), and I hate poorly written ones. So I wanted to ask what some good things to keep in mind, add, avoid, or do, etc. in my story? Also, would you rather I finish up one storyline and publish it as a beta, then finish the rest if you like my style? Or finish it all and publish it? This was mainly inspired by dead man walking, so some advice from the maker of that would definitely be the most appreciated probably. Thanks! 

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago

I'm not published so take my advice with a grain of salt. Make sure there is a plot. If the main character is just running around being violent to a bunch of cannibals it gets old fast. The plot can be getting to a safe place, defending you're piece of apocalypse, trying to find a cure, anything really. So long as there is a goal.

A second good idea is character development. Getting to know a fellow survivor against your better judgment, noticing that you become numb to the way the world works now, finding a point to where you have the survival thing down and you're just trying to find that old world comfort. That comfort can be a little battery charger so you can play a video game, a coffee press so you can get one more taste of the good stuff, or twinkies without buckshot in them.

Make sure you define your zombies. Are they the shambling dead, are there mutants mixed in the ranks, do some just mope around and grab at stuff that walks past, while others are angry and give chase? 

Emotions are also  not a bad way to go. Are you terrified of them, do you hate them for what they've done to your family, are you past emotion and just surviving on instinct at this point. One option is that a character is past caring about survival and just wants to kill as many as possible. I would recommend against using that as template for the main character. 

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago

Thank you for the tips, I will keep them in mind. What do you think about releasing a beta vs. finished edition?


P.S. Your*? That "defending you're part of the apocalypse" doesn't really make much sense

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago

Stick with the finished edition. Beta might get you booted from the site if it doesn't meet these standards.

I would advise finding someone on the site that is willing to edit before you publish. If you have sneak peak available you can send your editor of choice a link so they can read it and point out what needs to be fixed. You can also add a co-author if you trust said editor enough to let them fix any issues themselves.

Good catch on that typo of mine. Mizal might approve of you. (That's a good thing.)

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago

My mom is a grammar nazi, so yeah. Grammar kinda comes naturally. I did read a bunch of those articles though. It's probably right that if I do a beta, I won't finish.

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago

Here's some general story structure advice. It also has grammar advice too, which I think you should be good on. It's also Mizal's profile page. Use the resources you've got.

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago
I keep meaning to rework that thing, it's just one giant rambling text wall at the moment.

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago
You can leave the unfinished story in Sneak Peek and just put the link in a thread or share it around wherever if you want people to be able to read it before it's done, but DerPrussian is right, publishing an unfinished version will only hurt your overall rating and is usually (well, always) discouraged. Nice to see you're a grammar nazi though, that bodes well.

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago
Commended by mizal on 4/8/2019 6:16:12 PM

Hmm, I'll try breaking this up to cover segments of your post, let us see how that goes.


Good luck with perfection on the 'first time around'. There are few professional authors that manage to write something just as they want the first go, drafting, proofreading, and editing are all invaluable in polishing writing. But, I suppose that as it is doable, having definitely heard that people have written considerable stories without editing in like 48 hours or whatever.

HOWEVER, branching narratives do certainly contain normal writing elements, but the whole thing with choices and paths (regardless of how you choose to handle it) will impact the process. You are not writing a linear story after all, and this provides challenges.

As such, I hope that I misunderstood what you meant by "I like to get things right the first time around", in that I hope you meant you want to get your first storygame done right, rather than I want to write it perfectly first go.


Just catching mistakes is extremely beneficial, so I do not suggest skimping out on this process. If you go further and actually make bigger changes too, and then repeat till you're happy, you can turn an ok story into a great one, but obviously this can be very time intensive. As such I'd say at least proofread once before publishing, but find what you prefer.

Little nice article which can be helpful.


Finding the planning method which works for you is also a great thing, which can be very beneficial. Consider if you lean towards discovery or architect, that is, just come up with things as you write, or plan things out. This tends to be a mixture, so I do recommend experimenting and finding what works best for you.

I will mention that due to the branching nature of storygames, planning things tends to be what most people lean towards (from what I gather).

Writing Method [Branching Stories]

Here is a nice link regarding styles for branching narratives, I think it can be a good idea to give some thought to how you plan on having your story branch, as this can help guide your writing.

The use of variables and on page scripting is something that wouldn't be coming up in Time Cave stories, as if there isn't more ways to reach a page, there is nothing to track. Granted, you may have branches merge and not track anything, but this can make choices feel meaningless, and given that basic variable tracking & on page text altering isn't too hard to learn, I'd say you shouldn't be afraid of it (as while there can be a good deal of complexity, if you stick to the simpler stuff, it can be left completely untouched).

I will add that I bring this up because people sometimes try doing things through cloning of pages, and this can be very tedious in certain cases, and it can be easily avoided through just a little variable usage. But enough of this, I was supposed to only mention styles of branching to give you something to think about during planning.

Keep in Mind, Add, Avoid, and Do.

Keep in Mind

Keep in mind:

  • that writing can be very open and free, so just give some thought to things you do, especially if they go against the norm. Regardless, it is your story in the end, so you can do what you want.
  • that people generally don't expect much, most people here are just hobbyists after all, and clear effort tends to matter more than perfect prose/punctuation (not to say that that wouldn't be appreciated tho).
  • that more specific feedback/thoughts can be gotten on unfinished works in these forums, so feel free to visit again.
  • that very few people seem to know how to punctuate dialogue correctly, but as I do not know if you do or not, I'll just drop this nice little link here and tell you to look at it if you wish to join the exclusive club (if you are not in it already). Oh, do keep in mind that this also means that a good deal of people might not notice if you do it wrong, but I do still like to bring it up.
  • that, in regards to planning, you do still want to start writing at some stage. World building/planning can be enjoyable, but if your goal is to write a storygame, you will have to write eventually.
  • that there is generally no deadline, so don't rush, but also try not to procrastinate, as both can negatively impact the final work.
  • that keeping things backed up offsite is a good idea, and do be careful when saving pages as sometimes the site might hiccup and you'll lose what you wrote (so at least copy it to the clipboard before pressing save).
  • that, finally, writing offsite can also be considered, as again, you want to find what works for you.


Whatever you like, it is your story. Having some sort of conflict/contrast tends to be required for a story, but really, you just want to keep readers engaged in some way for whatever reason. With that said, a story doesn't have to be for everyone, but I imagine you do want at least some people to engage with whatever you are writing.


Maybe I should've put this under something to keep in mind, but figured I should mention it somewhere.

Anyway, it can be helpful to have an idea on what sort of themes you want to explore with your story, or if there are morals for the reader to take away after reading. With branching fiction you can do some nifty things, like exploring certain viewpoints down certain paths, thus covering more than one potential viewpoint. Themes can also help guide your story, to keep it focused and the like.

However, writing something that is just cool/fun is also perfectly fine, after all, there is nothing wrong with entertainment. I have started trying to bring this up a bit more often because I think it can get overlooked by some people who may have otherwise enjoyed the added layer it brings to the table.

I think it is at least worth being given a thought, since while grander themes may not play a role in the story you want to tell, they likewise might, and if they do, I think they can be pretty great and helpful (both for the reading experience and in the writing process).



Granted, while part of the definition for cliches is that they are overused, I will add that I am of the group who believe that cliches can be used well, but I guess it is ultimately about how you handle it.

Just be careful with cliches because they are cliche for a reason, and while using them may not be inherently bad, it is easy for them to detract from the experience if handled poorly.

Oh, I guess you should also avoid plagiarism, but I think this one tends to go without saying. However, to mix this section up a bit, I will add that inspiration or covering similar ideas is perfectly fine, but do avoid copying.


Find what works for you. Writing can have so much going into it, but you can also just sit down and fart something out. Ultimately, I'd say you want to do what you want to do, so do it.

Alternatively, also:

  • do proofread prior to publishing!
  • do actually write (mentioning this again because it is a step a good deal of people tend to try and avoid [me included lol]).

Beta vs. Complete Work

Definitely complete, demos or betas shouldn't be published if they cannot stand on their own, but ignoring this, they are heavily discouraged.

However, you may have a reason that you want to write a beta or demo, and in this case you should utilize the sneak preview feature, which allows you to make non-published stories visible. You simply tick a box under story properties (as I recall), and then people can access your storygame by putting the story name after this:
All without it being published!

This is a good way to also share the story to get feedback prior to it being finished. Oh, the story will also be displayed without a hyperlink on your profile if it is on sneak preview.

Dead Man Walking

I eagerly await BerkaZerka's advice.

Although, I must say, why would his advice be particularly helpful? I mean, I suppose he has a great storygame under his belt, published and all, among other accomplishments, but if you just want people who've proven themselves, you have a larger selection than just one to ask.

Alternatively, if it is because the story is inspired by his, then why not ask some more specific question that is more relevant to the story? Something only Berka could really help you with?

Or, perhaps... you simply want acknowledgment from one you admire?

Regardless of what it is, citing a work such as that as inspiration should push you to put in a good deal of effort, lest you sully Berka's work with a crude imitation, or arguably worse, failure.

Conclusion / TL;DR

Best of luck with this, I think I covered a lot of the general things (which I've had heaps of chances to mention elsewhere already), so I do hope there is something worthwhile for you in the above, as it has been filtered a number of times.

Anyhow, I'll leave you with a final piece of advice.


P.S. If there is anything I got wrong or that doesn't make sense, do tell me, so I can try and remedy that. I feel I should start adding images to these... but maybe I should try more things with the writing first.

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago

Thanks for the advice, I will keep it in mind as I write. The interest in beta, is that in this story, you can choose where you start the survival experience, and whether or not you want to be boy instead of a girl. So the interest is I will finish one/two locations, one gender path, or maybe both, and then publish it. It would be a stand-up story by itself, but would be lacking the other locations.

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago

Some of the writers have done that. Just make sure that the branches you publish are finished. The downside is that you might get some negative reviews before your product is really finished.

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago
That and just be aware that a story only shows up in the New Games section the first time it's published.

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago
I'm gonna be so mad if I find out he's literally just been copy and pasting these and I never noticed.

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago

I've actually considered writing up a word document where I have short snippets covering everything I can think of in relation to writing, and then just using them to make posts based on what I deem is most relevant to the author.

But then I figured if I done that, I might as well publish it all as a collection of articles, as if this worked I could just put links to the articles in my posts instead.

Alas that'd require a considerable amount of writing on my part, so I haven't done it yet. (I give full permission for others to do this instead if they wish to).

(Oh, fear of getting called out for copy + pasting has stopped me from taking chunks of previous posts atm, tho I'm sure I might repeat some things regardless... like proofreading and dialogue punctuation.)

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago
Just edit out any zombie specific things and you've got a pretty decent article there already.

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago
Take your time and write the whole story first. Have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Make sure something happens.

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago

Didn't finish reading the majority of the thread and I'm going to assume you've had all your questions answered and more.  But I think I'm going to chime in any ways.

To start, glad you decided to come back to us! We're always happy to see dedicated writers putting in some effort into their works.

It's generally better to finish the story completely before publishing.  People aren't really into beta-demos here (as the majority are 300 word abominations with horrible spelling). 

You can however, write a full story with good length and such and have it be part of a series, but could also work just as good as a stand alone.  There is also the Creative Corner and Writing Workshop if you want general opinions and feedback on what you've written.

Dead Man Walking is one of our longest and most intricate stories I believe lol

Anyways, good luck!

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago
What ever happened to your zombie story?

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago

Shelved until further notice.

Any Tips for a Zombie Story?

2 years ago
Z is for Zombies was a pretty decent example of a smaller scale zombie game that might give you some inspiration.

As for Zake's advice about 'avoiding cliches', lol, forget that, you're writing a zombie game. You might as well just sit down and make a list of the things you find cool in every other zombie story that exists and then figure out how to work them into your own plot.

I'm not a huge fan of the genre myself but I do like the resource management aspect and the need for taking greater risks for greater reward on scavenging trips is a good way to lead to interesting consequences.

Might as well also figure out what goals your characters may have beyond just survival, since fighting over the last can of peaches and killing your infected friends is all well and good, but it's better in any story if at some point the characters themselves and their conflicting motivations drive the plot along too instead of just reacting to things that happen.