I love writing paranormal romance because “dead” isn’t as simple a term. There are “shades” of death, and just because you kill-off a character doesn’t mean they’re dead and gone. They can be “slightly” dead, or “temporarily dead,” or even “life and physical-form deficient.”
I suppose I’ve been thinking about the idea of “undead” because I have a WIP that seems to be that way, which makes me think about the terms living, dead, undead, and non-living.
We’re taught that an inanimate object can’t die because it’s non-living. There is no life that can be lost. Dead is the absence or eradication in a formerly living entity; deprived of life, inanimate, inert. Living is defined as having life, the condition of being alive, full of life or vigour. And then there’s undead. Not living, not dead, and yet too animate to fall into the category of non-living. Well, for my purposes at least. Because my dictionary refuses to provide a definition, merely examples: vampires and zombies.
But don’t vampires and zombies possess vigour? There’s all that running around and biting people – certainly that takes a fair amount of vigour. What then of ghosts and ghouls? They were formerly alive (perhaps human before they died), and if they still possess essence, what are they? Simply dead? Certainly they must be “undead” for they too refuse to remain still and silent – haunting takes effort.
And thus we arrive at “undead” for all the creatures in between that refuse to fit into a neat, tidy box (or grave – your pick.) And that’s where the fun begins. Because if a creature / entity isn’t alive, but possesses the definition of life, and isn’t dead, but is more than non-living, we must have the undead. The essence of something more, something we can’t quite understand. Perhaps it reaches to define the boundary between life and death, the mystery we humans so often ponder. Is there some incorporeal essence that is “us” – a soul, if you will? Is there more than just a physical form and mechanical operations of life?
The undead suggest there is. For the undead means that death doesn’t have to be the end. Even if ending up a mouldering zombie isn’t your thing, it’s still more alive than the rotting corpse, still and silent in the grave, isn’t it?
What do you think? What is “undead” to you?
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