It's my turn to post this week, and I'm sadly late. Not because I didn't want to post, or because I'm lazy (maybe). Or even because I died of heat stroke. I'm late because I've been pondering what to write.
Recently my neighborhood had a fire scare. Nothing like Colorado, but the fire was very close to some homes. Fire + dry grass and trees + gusty wind = big flames. And that means evacuations. My family wasn't evacuated, but some of our neighbors were. We packed just in case.
When you see flames framing your friends' homes in a demonic embrace, you pack fast. And it's amazing what becomes important.
Here's what we decided to take:
Kid B and C:
ipads and one irreplaceable stuffed elephant named Baby
Loads of toys, stuffed animals, books, blankets, trinkets, keepsakes, drawings, and enough tears to fill a swimming pool. Poor kid.
For most of us, everything perishable faded away as unimportant. We didn't even grab clothes. Clothes you can replace. It was like those flames simplified everything down to what we couldn't get back.
What does a wildfire have to do with writing? More than you would think.
It could have been the end for a lot of homes if it wasn't for amazing fire personnel and a hefty dose of divine intervention. It was kind of like the climax at the end of a book. As writers, we have to make that moment when things look the worst count.
We need to pack the right things into the ending. Things we can't do without. And we need to cut the extras, things like twenty stuffed animals, six boxes of crayons, and a pile of Legos.
The thing is, as writers, we're a lot like Kid D. We love our stuff, our words, our scenes. Each one is important to us. But that doesn't mean you can fit them all into the end. And sometimes we cry just like Kid D when we learn we can't cram all of our stuff into the car.
So, my question for you is, what would you take if you had five minutes to evacuate? And more importantly, what do you really need to keep in your story? What can't you do without?