How to Write an Earthquake Scene


Part One

  1. What are the characters doing right before the earthquake?

»A. Show the sheer joy or sadness the people are going through seconds before.

I. Are they alone or with loved ones? In public or in a private house? Eating dinner or Working out? What emotions are they feeling? What is being said? What are they looking forward to for tomorrow?  
II. Describe the turning point. The drama, the awesomeness that will change in exactly 1 second. Or perhaps, maybe someone doesn’t feel right or there is a warning sign that something bad will happen. Do they hurry to get prepared? 

Suggest YOUR Scene Idea


»B. How is the weather and describe how things look around them currently. Such as the house, the buildings, the lawn. Why? Because when you write about the aftermath it has more impact!?

I. How does the outside buildings look. Are they new? Can the character see people working on a bridge? Are they mowing their grass and take pride in the way it looks? 
II. Describe the inside of buildings. Bed made, dishes on the dish rack. Christmas lights handing around the ceiling? Use adjectives and really layout your atmosphere.

III. How is the weather? Sunshine? Rain and gloom? Dark? Light? Afternoon? Night? Describe how it feels and the sounds. Any birds chirping, music playing? People talking or completely silent?


Part Two

    1. What is damaged, knocked down, destroyed first?

»A. Now, show the very things you describe in the last part being destroyed. Describe the action of them being destroyed, the process… not yet the aftermath.

I. Stuff falling on shelves? (bang, crash, thump). The grinding of parts of their home against one another? How does buildings, belongings look as they are being knocked around. Do they disintegrate? Expand? Twirl? Whirl in midair. The windows can crack. Stair case shudder.  
II. What buildings are being obliterated first? Maybe show people or a character watch it demolish before their very eyes. How are the schools, post office, government facilities doing? Stores? What about that bridge that the workers were working on? How does that fall apart? Slow? Fast? Do cars drop to the ocean as well? A great way to describe this is by knowing the parts of the buildings or structures you plan to write about. Then explain how all of that is being pulled apart, bit by bit. Use metaphors and similes if you can.

III.How are they trying to stay up? Do people attempt to preserve pieces or these buildings and structures? Do they record it?? Is that store hanging by a thread? How about that library, though? It’s still staying put? How so? What gives? 

Suggest YOUR Scene Idea


»B. How are people reacting to their belongings being torn apart? Are the belongings hurting them? Is anything other than the earthquake hurting them?

I. Some may be crushed. Sadly, some may have to jump out from high stories. People could be taking their lives in order to save others. . 
II.  Can they use any of their belongings as a way to cover? Have they prepared for this? Are they safe? Can go to the bunker or basement without having to worry?


Part Three

    1. Who is injured from the destruction?

»A.What injuries are caused? How bad are they?

I. Is everyone in one piece? How much bleeding? Are they fully flexible or is something hindering them from moving? How do they fix that? Do they have any first aid or do they need to use whatever’s available?
II. Who died? How did they die? How do people grieve after/during the person losing their life?Is someone alive but knocked out? 
III. Is anyone yelling for help? Can anyone get to them? How much space does the character have? Is it safe to travel to another location? If so, where do they go and why?

Suggest YOUR Scene Idea


»B. How do people help them while the earthquake is still going? How do they try to help themselves?

I. Any last minute requests or prayers or confessions? Does anyone know how to fix that broken leg? Do people use team work to lift the television off the woman? Anything similar?
II. Is anyone selfish? Do they try to take while the earthquake is destroying. How are their nerves? Do they need to do anything extreme to save themselves and does it work?


Part Four

    1. How much mayhem and mess is left?

»A. What is the earth doing? Cracking? Lava coming out from beneath? Tearing? Moving? How much does it shake??

I. Often, you can actually see the ground move in ripples. In a single story building, you can definitely see the floor rippling and moving. On the second story of an earth quake prepared building, you can see the floor moving but also the walls. The walls start with the ripples but, then start doing a circular motion. You can estimate the magnitude of the quake by counting the earth provided ripples/movements as opposed to those provided by the structure.

II. Effects/impacts of earthquakes:

Shaking and ground rupture are the main effects created by earthquakes. Ground rupture is a visible breaking and displacement of the earth’s surface along the trace of the fault. It is a major risk for large engineering structures such as dams, bridges and nuclear power stations.

Landslides are a major geologic hazard. Earthquakes can produce slope instability.

Fires can following an earthquake. They can be generated by break of the electrical power or gas lines. In the event of water mains rupturing and a loss of pressure, it may also become difficult to stop the spread of a fire once it has started.

Soil liquefaction occurs when, because of the shaking, water-saturated granular material (such as sand) temporarily loses its strength and transforms from a solid to a liquid. Soil liquefaction may cause rigid structures, as buildings or bridges, to tilt or sink into the liquefied deposits.

Floods may be secondary effects of earthquakes, if dams are damaged. Earthquakes may cause landslips to dam rivers, which then collapse and cause floods.


»B.What are they people feeling? How are they doing midway through?

I. What is the character thinking? What are they saying out loud and in conversation? NOW is the time for them to think about what they were doing just a few minutes ago and how they wished they could have done something different.



Part Five

    1. What’s the aftermath?

»A. Describe the sight.

I. Any aftershocks? These are strong but distant quakes, and several smaller quakes.

II. What has been completely destroyed and what is left? Who is alive and who is not living? How is the weather clearing if at all?Still raining?
III. How do they pick up after things have been torn down. Is it worth it? Do they tend to the hurt? Do they cover the dead? Search for bodies? Collect money, food, clothing? Where are they headed now?



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