Bomb Shelter Stories

“It’s like emerging from a bomb shelter after months of barely surviving, fearing complete nuclear destruction, and having little contact with any others.  But upon emerging discovering that the rest of the world did not go to ground and has continued on with their lives quite happily.”

That was my first thought when I emerged into the main lobby in the building where I work yesterday evening.  (My post is in what I affectionately call sub-basement two, and I had been utterly alone for two hours)

But as many writers do, I immediately got to thinking about the implications of that mental scenario in a story.  How would a character have gotten herself (or himself) into that predicament? Would he or she have an exceptionally complicated family situation above ground? Would she have been unknowingly fired from her job?  Would her dog have starved, or been fed by a kind neighbor?  There are about a million questions that a writer could ask to slowly craft a tale for this unfortunate woman.

Impossible situations like that one are the bread and butter of engaging story-telling.  A heroine whose fate seems quite unfortunate is a character that is very easy to care about, just look at Harry Potter facing down the far more powerful Lord Voldemort.  The reader is hooked because they want to know how the characters could possibly get themselves out of the predicament.

Or perhaps, you find the above scenario funny.  How could a person be so out of touch with reality that she manages to do something so silly? Perhaps her life has been a series of similarly ridiculous situations and now her tale is a journey to correct her mistakes and learn not to make them.  Perhaps the whole story will go on in comic fashion.

Or maybe you look at that scenario with the eye of paranoia and wonder if it could all be a deeper plot.  Perhaps what she thinks are the ordinary people have been possessed by aliens and she alone is still herself.

What I’m saying is that the beauty of writers is that every one will have a different take on a potential story stemming from just a few sentences. Creativity is the life blood of the novel and it’s what makes a writer who they are.  For example, I’m particularly keen on the last option, though perhaps with a little meddling from the genius on earth who called the aliens here.  My sister on the other hand would certainly spring for option A or B.

Which option would you go for? Or do you have your own take you’d like to share?



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