5 Things I Learned Writing “Zombie Boy: Press Start”

Writing “Zombie Boy” taught me a few things.

From video game references to the different ways to describe zombie goo, I had a blast writing my third book! Like always, it was a great learning experience. Here are a few things I learned.

Zombie Boy: Press Start

1. That setting writing goals is a MUST.
After reading 5000 Words Per Hour and The 8-Minute Writing Habit, I decided to set a daily writing goal of my own. My initial goal was to meet one of the following every day: either write for 8 minutes OR write 250 words. I basically do my own shorter version of the Pomodoro Technique. Because, honestly, I have no excuse to not write 8 minutes every day. It really is amazing what setting a daily goal did for my productivity. I typically write longer than 8 minutes, and most days I at least double, and sometimes triple, my minimum word count. (And the 1,000 word days are like Heaven!) Using this technique, “Zombie Boy” was written in just shy of two months. Compare that to the seven months for “Monster Girl” and five for its sequel. The takeaway from this is, no matter how small, every little bit adds up. Another good book to read on that very subject is The Compound Effect.

2. That I can write first drafts using a keyboard.
When I wrote my first two books, “Monster Girl” 1 and 2, I did so longhand using only pen and paper. For most of my writing life that is how I preferred to write. But I’ll be honest, transcribing from paper to screen is so not fun. It’s such a drab that with “Zombie Boy”, I wanted to learn how to tap into my creative flow using a keyboard the same way I am able to do it with pen/paper. Surprisingly, it was easier than I expected! I even wrote paragraphs using my iPhone but I mostly wrote entire chapters on my iPad since those are two devices that I always have at arm’s length. My MacBook Air was mainly used for editing.

3. That I’m still a total pantser.
For the record, I do outline key events, but it’s usually nothing more than a few sentences. Mainly to get what’s in my head down on paper so that I won’t forget it before I write it. I’ve mentioned before that Stephen King writes using a similar method, but I also recently read another book on the subject that I really liked. Dean Wesley Smith’s Writing Into the Dark is a great read for anyone feeling unsure about your pantsing methods. Not that we need permission to write the way that feels most natural, but it is nice to know we aren’t alone.

4. That there is a fine line between enough and too much.
“Zombie Boy: Press Start” is chock-full of video game references. Some are obvious and others not so obvious. Balancing how many references was tricky. My love of gaming could have lent itself to a reference every other page, but I had to make sure that each one fit the story. I do feel I captured that balancing act, and I promise there will be more fun references in future sequels!

5. Naming characters/places/games/etc. is hard.
You’d think it would be easy, but it’s something I struggle with all the time. Naming stuff can be fun, but when that perfect name eludes me – the one that encapsulates the very essence of that person, place, or thing – it feels like pulling teeth. I have two criteria for naming: 1.) it must sound good, and 2.) it must have meaning, whether apparent to the reader or not. Even coming up with the subtitle for this book was a challenge. The book needed an immediate reference to gaming since it plays a major role in the story, and I think “Press Start” does an excellent job of conveying that. If you’re one of the people I hit up for name ideas, THANK YOU for your ideas and putting up with me!

Thank you for reading!  “Zombie Boy: Press Start” is available at all your favorite online bookstores! I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Available on: Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

Val O. Morris likes to pretend the monsters aren’t real. She is a filmmaker turned author who writes Urban Fantasy, Horror, and YA. A Monster Kid since birth, she loves all things ghosts, goblins, slashers, demons, monsters, zombies, madmen, werewolves, vampires, and freaky little kids who live in the corn. She invites you to come for the monsters and stay for the story.