Write it Hot

As I write this post, it’s 110°F in Austin, TX. As you can imagine, the heat is a subject that flares up at some point in every conversation. The usual, “You keeping cool?” or “I don’t know how people work outdoors when it’s this hot.”

I started brainstorming with myself about how a writer of fiction might describe extreme heat without being trite. Ideally, it involves “showing, not telling,” especially when it reveals the impact on characters. My list:

  1. A couple in a car argue over how much money to give to a panhandler who offers bottled water from a cooler to drivers.
  2. Firefighters collapse from heat exhaustion.
  3. A mail carrier sees a tied-up dog in distress, gives it water, and returns after dark to rescue the animal.
  4. While eyes are closed and heads are bowed in prayer, a church-goer takes a hand fan, provided compliments of Bowers Funeral Home, and slips it into her purse.
  5. A driver encountering a road block where a work crew is removing concrete chunks realizes the debris had burst from expanded highway seams.
  6. Looters delight in a power outage.
  7. Mother, who has never been known to utter a swear word, grips a hot handrail and says, “Holy shit.”
  8. The lover on top slides off.
  9. A roofer buying work boots inquires about soles that won’t melt.
  10. Homeless people park with their backpacks and over-stuffed trash bags in the public library.
  11. Swamped by an increase in heat-related emergencies, an EMS team loses precious minutes getting to a call because they’ve run out of ice and have to stop at a convenience store.
  12. Home Depot sells out of window air conditioners.
  13. Home invasion burglaries go up as more people sleep with their windows open.
  14. An air-conditioned mosque provides overnight shelter for people of all faiths.

Btw, I have some experience with # 3 and #5. I once knew a musician who sometimes after a late gig would rescue  dogs he knew to be abused. And I once had to stop on a highway while road crews removed chunks of concrete.

Your thoughts? Leave a comment.


Every human being has hundreds of separate people living under his skin.

–Mel Brooks




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