Through the Zombie Lens: How the Dead’ish Confirmed My Outlook on Life

Zombie Burt and Ernie: Jason Spencer

It seems every other book these days contains a vampire, a werewolf or, more commonly, a team of staggering zombies. Let’s talk about the latter. They are decidedly mean, violent, and relentless—not unlike your typical serial killer sitting in a faraway prison cell, which begs the question: how shall I treat said beasts in manuscripts that I’m editing?

Certain words are attached only to humans; other words are used only for things. A zombie is essentially a moving corpse, so is Dad still Dad if he’s no longer 100 percent human? Are such semantics considered by the reader, or will he or she care whether the creature is a “who” or a “what” needing a “who” or a “that”? This is why writers hire agonizers.

As always, I turned to the oracle, the omniscient source who takes me by both hands and guides me toward the sun: The Chicago Manual of Style. [I feel the same way about the AP Stylebook, just to be clear.] Continue reading