Sweltering Conditions

            Summer is upon us and temperatures are rising. Lucky people have air-conditioning or can seek shelter in a cooling spot. However, not everyone is blessed with ways to cool off.

            Free-standing fans provide limited relief if a person sits right in front of it, but do little for a family of four. Or for a classroom full of steaming children or a church filled with parishioners.

            Imagine the stories that arise from being overheated. Fights break out because tempers rise. Tears are shed. Clothing is stripped off. Hoses spray cooling water, but not when there is a drought. People might take a drive if their car’s air works or go stroll through a nearby shopping mall.

            These are all temporary solutions. What happens when the electricity goes out or people have to return to the overheated offices, classrooms and homes?

            Your task is to write a scene in which the heat is overwhelming. Begin with the setting. Are your characters on the road, at work or at home? How do they cool off? How does the heat impact relationships?

            Use a combination of narrative and dialogue, remembering that tensions are going to arise. There might be angry words tossed about or actual fisticuffs.

            Have fun with this one.

Pestilence and Famine

            Throughout history periods of devastation have arisen that threaten the livelihoods of those who live in that area. Consider the affects that floods have when they sweep in and swamp the land, or hurricanes that snap trees in half and rip off roofs.

            What happens when insects fly in and eat plants down to the nubs? Complete crops are ruined, robbing farmers of any sort of income. On top of that, there is nothing to eat and so people starve. The link between pestilence and famine is so strong that the two cannot be separated.

            Your task is to write a story in which an entire region is destroyed by some form invasion. You might want to first do some research to determine which insects cause the most damage, which are most likely to appear in your choice of setting. Find out what plants they eat and what, if anything, they leave behind when they move on. Make note of what types of weather events invite the insects in and what makes them move on.

            Once you have the necessary information, construct your story. Begin with the “normal” world: what life is like when all is going well. Then bring in the pests and show us what happens through site and sound. What does your character do and think? Are there any means she can take to reduce the damage? Show us the results when the event is over. Include what the farmer is doing as she surveys the damage.

            Have fun with this one.