You’ve noticed in global disaster movies, the highway out of the city is jam-packed with stalled vehicles and sweaty people, but the road into the city is empty. Like a blank line just waiting to hold the next sentence of a story, unused. Forgotten, untold. It is surely for cinematic impression, but it irks me every time.
Why is it when disaster strikes, when the fog of block descends, when a story line comes to a screeching halt – why do we drop our head in our hands and insist we have to wait until the hero of inspiration saves the day? Come on folks, we’re writers! Taking risks and finding new paths is what we do.
Look at that open road! Why didn’t someone smash through the barricade and take the other side, the ‘wrong’ side? Take trucks across the lawns of the suburbs, the eventual farmland. A big boat – I think a big boat down the river is a fine idea. People are away from the shores, able to pass through major cities, if fuel runs out they can float. This is assuming the disaster is not falling asteroids or fast-moving glaciers. Who am I kidding, even if it was stumbling, bumbling zombie hoards, I’d likely be one of the first to get killed.
In the movies, there are always the survivors trying to hold on to their last shred of humanity, the last bit of hope. Some of the group will be lost along the way. They race and run, overcoming obstacles, threats, danger. Of course, they somehow make it out alive. A small, eclectic band, usually with children… one boy, one girl.
I’ve been there, I’m not judging anyone’s methods. And I see the work of other writers when they come to me, asking for advice on how to move a story forward. My suggestion: “Take the other side of the road. Don’t follow the signs. Even if you think the story is supposed to go one way, you may have to accept it needs a new direction to survive.”
Paragraphs, characters, even entire plot lines will be ambushed or sacrificed. But your story will survive, and you’ll go on tell a hundred more. Explore your options.