By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine
In recent days we have witnessed several disasters. The Big Island in Hawaii seems to be exploding on a greater scale each and every day. Homes are being swallowed up by the slow moving lava flow, the air is filled with poisonous gases, and sudden explosions send large molten boulders flying through the air. In the Gulf of Mexico we have a large tropical storm headed our way. Not sure if it will remain a storm or develop into hurricane strength as it comes ashore. And in Ellicott, Maryland they are experiencing a flood of disastrous proportions. It was preceded by a 2016 flood which was of such great destruction it was dismissed as a 1-in-1,000 year event. This flood of 2018 has shown to be even greater.
Disasters, whether natural or man made, are a part of our life. As writers we have the opportunity to tell the story of the disaster, it’s hardship on the individuals and the heroism that most often comes from the most ordinary people. In doing so we must be mindful of our many choices and directions we can take. It has been said, “As a river in flood cuts an oxbow and the over-full dam over flows so problems left unsolved take their own course. No one can predict the shape the cataclysm will take.”
As writers we not only can tell the story but develop the problem, the reason for the problem as well as the shape the cataclysm will take. I recently saw a disaster movie and was taken with the talent of the writer as they developed each small disaster which was created as a byproduct of the larger one. It was one of those developments where I was beginning to feel sorry for the poor hero. It seemed he would never overcome the next challenge but of course he did.
As we witness these disasters, which seem to be on a daily basis, let’s consider the shape the cataclysm will take. The problem, the reason for the problem and the many outcomes that are possible. You can develop it as you go. All are you’re choosing.