Writing Tip — The Eclipse as a Setting

wallpaper-1492818_1280If you were anywhere near the path of the eclipse yesterday, I hope the weather and your circumstances allowed you to enjoy it. I wasn’t in the path of totality, so all I experienced as a slight darkening and cooling, like on an overcast day. The most notable difference were the crickets chirping like it was evening in the middle of the afternoon.

Eclipse for Crime Fiction

If I was using the eclipse for a setting, it would have to be a backdrop for something momentous. It’s too unusual an event for just mundane occurrences. A murder can take place, or the revelation and capture of a master criminal.

Speaking of crime, my husband noticed something at a business meeting yesterday. The meeting was held at a building with security at the entrance. The building emptied for people to view the eclipse at its height. Then everyone reentered the building. So many people came in at once that the security guards didn’t bother to check I.D.’s.

With that in mind, in a crime story, an employee can smuggle in accomplices when the crowds return to a busy office building after viewing the total or near-total eclipse. Then they commit their crime later in the day. Or have a crime planned for site in the path of totality when the criminals know employees will be outside for several minutes.

Eclipse for Speculative Fiction

surreal-2290472_1280Researching the myths surrounding eclipses might provide fertile ground for a story. The site timeanddate.com list many of them. Interestingly, most ancient cultures describe the eclipse in terms of some creature eating the sun.

I could write a story about a certain group of people whose special powers only work when they stand within the path of a total eclipse. They spend their lives traveling the world, from eclipse to eclipse, so they can use their powers, some for evil, some for good.

Or a villain is going to unleash some horrible power but can only accomplish it in the path of totality and if the eclipse is visible to him. The heroes know this. The day of the eclipse, the heroes and the villains watch the weather and race up and down the path trying to get into the perfect position.

I like the idea of this story a lot because I could work in the specific date and real locations that were in the path of totality. It would give a veneer of realism to a fantastic story. I also like the idea of the chase, and the characters racing around in numerous vehicles as the villain hunts for the right weather and the heroes hunt of the villain.

What ideas do you have for using the eclipse as a setting?

Writing Tip — Writing in Time — August and the Eclipse

summer-922549_1280Much more than December, August feels like the end of the year to me. The summer is winding down, school starts, and sports and arts seasons begin. This is my favorite time of the year. From August on, each month holds something interesting for me.

Unless it’s been a brutally hot summer, most people where I live aren’t fed up with the season when August rolls in, like we are with winter when it’s February. I don’t feel anxious for the changes August heralds, just a quiet contentment — content to say farewell to the summer schedule and hello to the autumn one.

The evenings are bathed in gold during August, perhaps contributing to my content feelings. I love how the evening light looks in the summer. One of the best descriptions of golden evenings I have read is in The Time MachineĀ by H.G. Wells.

With these impressions in mind, I think August is the perfect month to end a story if you want a warm or nostalgic or even a bittersweet finish.

wallpaper-1492818_1280Where I live, no major holidays occur in August, but this year on the 21st, North America will experience a solar eclipse, the first of its kind to cover so much of the United States since 1970. To learn more, click here.

I am always interested in how sunlight changes within the day and the season and then using those observations as settings for my writing. I wrote a post on it last year. I am very excited to watch how the eclipse affects the light. I bet it will appear otherworldly, making this unusual natural phenomenon a perfect setting for some unnatural fiction. So if you are in North America on August 21, get outside!

How do you view August as a setting for your writing?

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