Friday, June 19, 2020

You Can Use Real Disaster to Create a Disaster in Your Story; or, My Neighborhood has Literally Gone to Hell by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

I guess we all know about disasters, whether on the personal, community, national or global level. They certainly make enough movies about them, even having a category for them: disaster movies. Writers need to use disasters of some sort, some degree, some length, with various outcomes and reactions, in their stories. This can be the point where the character(s) reaches that no way out, this can’t possibly end well moment.

There have been so many global disasters this year, from the pandemic, to looting and burning of entire city blocks, and more localized disasters like the one I’m dealing with right here at home, a wildfire that continues to burn and endanger the lives of wildlife and community after community in various ready, set, go stages of evacuation, with an ever-growing number of personnel from multiple states engaged in trying to get it back under control for over two weeks of what they predict will be four before it’s contained.

An actual disaster, even an internal one, can be more than a single plot point. It may be an underlying  theme. It can certainly be used to show the moral fiber of characters, by how they react to it, what they think about it, or the way it affects themselves or others.      

Though useful this can be tricky, too. Writing to a broad audience, most authors do not want to become embroiled in politics or controversial current events. That does not mean you can completely ignore a major event taking place on a global or national scale, and especially not within a community or family unit.


Nancy Gideon said...

My heart breaks for the mountains having been on its slopes to adore the beautiful setting. Just reading your post started a half dozen plot scenarios. You and those brave souls combating the fire stay safe, my friend.

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said...

Thanks. I love to brainstorm plots, as you know. This is the smallest fire in AZ so far. One in the Grand Canyon area has burned 115,000 acres and shut down the south rim, at only 5% contained. Another is at 55,000 acres, north of Phoenix at 3% contained. 1500 homes have been evacuated at that fire. Arizona is on fire!

Maureen said...

Those pictures are worth a thousand words. Great post. Stay safe.

Diane Burton said...

Your post filled me with anxiety while admiring your teaching moment. The constant fear you and your neighbors must be feeling is heart wrenching. Such a lovely area now being destroyed! Please stay safe.