Not enough drama was a comment I heard from beta readers of my latest attempt at my climate change saga. A major problem for a story dealing with a theme, climate change, that is inherently long-term and slowly developing and my decision to follow a series of characters involved in the problem from the early days to a possible future crisis. I’ve been trying to add drama without totally gutting my story. I’ll soon have it ready to show to future beta readers (maybe some of the same ones if they’re willing).
I’ve also been trying to learn how I could bring more dramatic action to a climate change story that met my probably unrealistic idea of a plausible plot. Here is one such attempt at an opening scene.
The woman who recently moved into the apartment across from my flat charged into my laboratory. She grabbed my arm and dragged me to the windows overlooking the university quadrangle.
“See those men, they’re coming for you. You gotta get outa here.”
“What do you mean, coming for me? I’m just a lowly graduate student, no security team is coming for me.”
She pushed me away from the windows. “Collect your notes on your secret project and dump any chemicals that will give it away. Do it! You’ve got maybe two, three minutes. We gotta disappear.”
I had a controversial project, a secret one that could attract government interest or industrial sabotage. But how did this stranger discover it?
She was scary, but less so than the armed commandos streaming across the quadrangle. I added the critical chemicals to a padded shipping box I’d prepared for this eventuality and grabbed my lab notes, my computer, and my backpack.
She slammed the lab door behind me. “Locked, right,” she said before taking the box from my arms.
When I nodded, she ran down the hall holding the box in front of her. She stopped at a narrow staircase that led to service space above the ceiling. “Hurry,” she mouthed.
“But I forgot my coat.”
“Forget your fucking coat. We gotta move.”
She swiped a card at the locked door that prevented public access to the space between ceiling and roof. After we entered the dimly lit space, she closed the door behind us and sighed as her shoulders slumped.
She took several deep breaths. “Put your stuff in your backpack, strap it on and take this damn box before I make it explode. We’re walking, quietly but quickly, to the back of the building. Outside, we’re to the beach and a waiting boat. You must trust me until we get there. Then you’ll realize we’re on your side.”
We took a roundabout route to the beach and arrived with no sign the commandos had seen us. In summer, Black Rock Beach would have teemed with naked or near-naked nature lovers, but on this foggy midwinter day, it was deserted.
The white fibreglass runabout, when we located it, had killer whales painted on its sides. A guy who could have been indigenous held the bow against the shore, and Kendrick Lovelace, chemistry department professor emeritus, stood in the stern. After seeing him, I knew I’d chosen correctly when I followed the fearsome Amazon.
I kind of like it and might try to turn it into a short story, but I fear it doesn’t provide the drama my beta readers were looking for.
Anyway, drama’s what I’m working on right now. Thought I’d let everyone know.