Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Fri, Nov 20 2009

Signs of a storm

We have a storm front coming through today and the winds have been picking up throughout the morning. More tropical parts of the planet have rain showers that can come and go rather quickly, but most of us see the signs of a storm coming before any raindrops fall. A breeze may change direction or the leaves on trees and shrubs may turn their lighter green undersides to the top. The humidity may rise and bouffant white clouds may gather and darken in heavier layers. The very air around us may have a dramatic rise or fall in temperature.

Even Bible writers built an architecture of doom when they wrote of the times just before the Second Coming of Christ. The signs are symbolic to some and literal to others, but even non-believers often admit being hit with a bit of a shiver when they hear of the moon turning red as blood or of plagues that torture most of the earth's inhabitants. As literature, the Bible is full of symbols and folklore. But for those who see it as a guidebook on the journey of life, the sensational descriptions of a planet in total chaos are the natural result of all that has come before it. It becomes a natural progression in the march toward an ultimate conclusion. If all we read were the first few chapters of Genesis and the last few chapters of Revelation we wouldn't understand or be nearly as moved by the whole of the story. It's the middle Books of the Bible portending the Apocalypse that make the final description of that Apocalypse emotional and satisfying.

Fiction writers can learn from all this to warn the reader of soon-to-come conflict in stories by weaving hints about changes in setting, characters' body stance or other details that tunnel the reader in to a place where menace or tension makes them want to run on one level, but then makes them unable to run away without seeing the journey through to the end. The writer can certainly hit the reader with a sudden thunderclap and a downpour for pure shock value. But the ride is a lot longer and lot more satisfying if we can draw a reader into the storm by introducing details that build a sense of discomfort based on an almost universal understanding of things that often show up and make us alert long before the big thunderclap makes us jump.

posted at: 12:33 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!