Using as many senses as you can, how would describe this scene? Here’s mine:
“The mist crawled in and chilled me, even though I was wearing a jacket. The wind sighed over the treeless hills. That was the only sound except for an occasional creak from an overturned vehicle. The faint scent of gasoline mixed with the stagnant smell of still water from the half-frozen ponds lining the road.
“Behind the hill to my right, a shape stood dark against the fog. My heard revved, but I stopped. I pressed my lips together, swallowing hard, then called out with as much confidence as I could gather to keep my voice from shaking. “Dad?”
Some of the ideas for using July as writing inspiration I discussed in last year’s post, and some are extensions of those ideas.
Here in the U.S. July is synonymous with Independence Day since it is the only major holiday in the month. With its historical and political importance, Independence Day has great potential for inspiration. But I am only going to discuss what I’ve experienced personally, which are family and community celebrations of the holiday.
The small town near where we live outdoes itself to create an old-fashioned and highly satisfying Fourth of July celebration. A parade kicks things off, and anyone can enter riding anything from bikes to classic cars to classic tractors. The fire department provides barbecued chicken for lunch, and the town organizes activities, like softball games, pie eating contests, and tractor pulls. They used to invite a group that did tractor square dancing, which is just as goofy as it sounds. A local singer gives a concert and then to top off the day, fireworks!
That small town would be a great setting for a middle grade mystery. A group of kids notice something strange during the parade, run all over town during the day, looking for clues, and then solve the mystery during the fireworks display.
Family picnics during the Fourth of July are fertile settings to explore relationships. If I make the day especially hot, and it’s heading that direction where I live, the heat can symbolize tensions between relatives, and then in the cool of the night, when the fireworks go off, that tension can be resolved, positively or negatively. If I am writing about several relationships, I can have both positive and negative consequences..
Although I haven’t seen the movie, this quote 1953 science fiction movie It Came From Outer Spacevividly sums up how to use heat to turn up the tension in a story.
“Did you know … more people are murdered at ninety-two degrees Fahrenheit than any other temperature? I read an article once — lower temperatures, people are easy-going. Over ninety -two, it’s too hot to move. But just ninety-two, people get irritable.”
In July, I will be focusing on speculative fiction. All the sparks for this month will be ways to ignite your sci fi and fantasy stories.
If the picture above was the opening scene of a story, how would you finish the opening lines?
“As I stood on the edge of the cliff, I stared at the wormhole that had appeared, then glanced down at my computer. I hadn’t typed in the common for wormhole. I wanted a portal. I raised my hand to throw down the computer. Piece of junk!”