If we weren’t certain before, then I think it’s now safe to say that winter is finally here. It’s dark in the early evening, and I’m scraping frost off the car every morning.
All of which makes me think of time.
Time is something that is key to writing. After all, words exist within time. Meter measures out a pace and governs the passage of time within a poem. We’re taught early on that stories have a beginning, middle and end (whether or not they are told in that order), and these also serve to govern the time of the story.
So this month, I want to create a time-related prompt. Specifically, this prompt is related to the before-ness of time.
I want you to write about the moment before something happens.
It could be something joyous. It could be something tragic, something dramatic, something that will leave the world reeling. Perhaps a house fire. Perhaps the moment before a child falls off a cliff, or the split second before a team scores a touchdown. Maybe the moment before Neil Armstrong’s boot touches the surface of the moon, or the second before impact when the meteorite wipes out the dinosaurs.
Whatever it is, make it something big. Something significant – either to the world at large, or to the world of a single character.
But here’s the catch: I don’t want you to describe the event. You can mention it, if you like, to add weight and context to your piece. But make the focus of your writing the moment before. When everything weighs in the balance. When the scales could tip in either direction and everything echoes through possibility. When the world is still unchanged.
Describe it in detail. Image a freeze-frame, in that one second before the event. Once you’ve frozen the frame, then press play, but in slow motion. Picture the build-up to the big event happening frame by frame. Notice everything. Is there a shadow of foreboding? Maybe, maybe not. The weight of the piece comes from knowing what’s about to happen next.
Good luck, and happy writing!