Disaster stories are those that use descriptions of disasters or personal testimonies of survivors and those with insight to discuss major disasters. The disaster novel genre includes both natural disasters and man-made disasters. Additionally, the genre can focus on historical disasters or include fictional accounts. However, what all disaster stories have in common is that these are thorough accounts that aim to enlighten people, discuss catastrophic events, and provide insight into the issues behind them.
There’s no denying that disaster stories capture readers’ attention and draw them in. We’re all excited by real and imagined disaster stories and enjoy the fast pace, intensity, and high-stakes conflict involved in them. However compelling readers disaster novels may be, writing them is hard work. Use the following tips to make your disaster story stand out from the rest.
1. Remember That Action Is the Driver
The most apparent aspect of disaster stories is that the driver in these stories is action. The disastrous event or events are the novel’s main point and force decisions to be made. The unfolding events guide the rest of the story, making action the center and most significant part of the story.
Pay attention to structure, story, and narrative arc as you write so your work is easier to follow. Whether you choose a three-act structure, or the typical five-act structure, make sure there are turning points and changes in action that drive the plot forward.
2. Focus on Conflict
There are numerous stories that can be told through a disaster setting. However, for the work to count as a disaster story, the conflict that results must be a product of the disaster or events leading up to the disaster. Whether it’s the relationship between the central characters or individuals trying to survive, conflict is key.
3. Emphasize the Human Element of the Story
Disaster stories are exciting because of the events themselves, but this isn’t the only thing to focus on. Authors must concentrate on both facts and emotion. The story’s human element is often what makes a disaster story shine. Whether it’s the protagonist struggling to make decisions and become a different person to take charge and survive or the fear and courage of a mother going above and beyond to save her child, the humanity and emotions within a story make readers care about the story.
For example, the non-fiction disaster novel, A Night to Remember by Walter Lord is a comprehensive resource about the RMS Titanic and its sinking. It tells the story of the RMS Titanic and contains interviews with survivors. One of the reasons for its success is the story’s depiction of those who faced the disaster and survived it. By mixing fact with emotion, Lord created a book that’s both accurate and engaging. Lord does this by looking at the disaster story from the survivors’ perspective and, thus, making readers care about the characters.
4. Use Vivid Imagery and Descriptive Language
Part of the reason disaster novels are so popular is because they give readers the chance to experience something they never would have otherwise. As such, it’s essential to use vivid imagery and the right diction to transport readers to the disaster. A Night to Remember by Walter Lord captures both the sights and sounds of the tragedy of the Titanic sinking. His use of language helps readers visualize themselves in the situation and makes the disaster seem that much more realistic.
Since this is part of what makes disaster stories so compelling, it’s an essential part of the genre. Any writer authoring a disaster novel must keep this in mind and focus on using all the senses to show readers the full depth of the event. In addition to describing the scene, input sounds, smells, and other elements to portray an accurate depiction of the disaster.
5. Test Moral Boundaries
The best disaster novels use character tests to explore the disaster in shades of grey instead of sticking to a black-and-white version. Testing the moral boundaries of characters is a sure-fire way to make any disaster story more exciting and complex. This nuanced take also fleshes out the story, offers excellent character development, and shows the full effect of these situations and how they impact people.
For example, if you’re writing about mountaineers trapped in disastrous conditions, you can explore whether characters consider leaving others behind or not. Thus, testing moral boundaries makes the situation more realistic, gives insight into characters’ state of mind, and makes disaster stories more thrilling.
We hope these tips help you along your writing journey and assist you in penning an excellent disaster novel. To further improve your work and get detailed feedback and editing suggestions, consider Edit911’s affordable book editing services. We help you refine your work and make it the best it can be. Reach out to us here for more information.