1) Ridiculous dialogue.
This is rampant, not just in zombie fiction, but in indie fiction in general. I see three common ways this is done:
- "On the nose" dialogue is when a character says exactly what he/she wants/feels with no subtex.
- Child dialogue. I often wonder if some authors have ever bothered listening to how a real child of the character's approximate age speaks.
- Trying to illustrate a character's intelligence by removing contractions from their speech. Even geniuses use contractions.
2) Comically slow zombies.
I'm not talking slightly sub-walking speed. I'm talking about characters quite literally having an entire conversation with a zombie when it's no more than a few feet away in the kitchen. "Are you okay? Dude you okay? Seriously, what are you doing? Are you sick? Speaking of sick, remember that one time in Puerto Rico? Dude, are you that sick? Stay back, I'm warning you! I'm serious! Stay back!" *Insert either gruesome death or "harrowing" escape here*
I'm only slightly exaggerating here. In the book I just finished, a zombie had a child by the arm and was moving (ever so slowly) in for the bite. So slowly, in fact, that the main character had time to yell to his compatriot, "I have a plan!" and begin yelling to distract the zombie.
3) An inconsistent threat.
This one drives me as batty as any other. At several points in a recent read, the comically slow zombies were somehow able to sneak up on the characters. At a different point, the main characters were able to travel numerous blocks through a city of approximately 1.5 million zombified people without incident. Uh, what?
4) Word bloat.
For some reason, numerous writers are approaching the genre as if it were literary fiction. This pretty much means using fifty words when ten will do. It also means numerous flashbacks, extensive descriptions of characters and setting, repetitive declarations of emotion, introspective moments right in the middle of the freakin' action, and generally purple prose. A lot of what I'm reading is heavy on word count (a few are well north of 100,000 words, which is in epic fantasy range) and light on plot.
This is exactly why I couldn't get past the sample of Colson Whitehead's "Zone One." He may be a literary genius for all I know, but he's lost in genre fiction.
People putting themselves in danger when they should know better.
Every zombie book that I've read in the last year, every single one, has had this scene in it:
The main character will be aware of the zombie outbreak by now. Even when armed with the knowledge of what the zombies are/do, a character will inevitably voluntarily get close enough to a zombie (who will, naturally, have its back to our character) to check and see if the person is okay. They will approach slowly and say something that is repeatedly met with silence. They will most likely touch the person and be shocked when it turns out they're a zombie. They may or may not get bitten.
I wouldn't do that under normal circumstances. In the ZomPoc, I'd sooner smack someone with a shovel after the first unanswered greeting.*
This is something that probably only concerns me, but it's my blog, dang it! Where is the good stuff hiding?
*You'd better answer me the first time.