You know that old cliché: time slowed?
Well, if you’ve ever been in a car crash or any kind of accident, you’ll know exactly what that means: the amygdala (the seat of emotion in your brain) kicks in and calmly starts recording every detail. When you go back over your memories, the moment will seem to have lasted at least 30% longer than it actually could have.
The way to recreate this in fiction is not to say “time slowed” but to actually recreate the ‘amygdala effect’: describing in excruciating detail everything your character experiences in those elongated moments. Usually these occur in the moment of anticipation, when you KNOW something bad is about to happen but can do nothing to stop it.
Write A Story That Happens In The Moment Before An Accident
- Start your story at the moment when the accident has begun to happen: the car is sliding, the character is falling; her finger is coming back up from clicking ‘send’ on the email when she see that the ‘to’ field contains the name of the person she’s actually bitching ABOUT…
- Describe every detail of what’s happening Take some time to give us backstory as the character’s mind flashes back on what is important to her Make us care about the character (love or despise, either way).
- End the story when the character has made an emotional change, not necessarily when they land/crash. You can leave them spinning through the air if you want to, and allow the reader to make up the rest.
6 thoughts on “[Write On Wednesday] Time Slowed Down”
Martin glanced at the shot clock. Five seconds left before the regulation ended. He saw his team mate’s meaningful glance as he passed the ball to him. An expression that seems to say, “I trust you to shoot this ball in.”
A crucial three point shot is all he needs to win against their rival.
I can do this. I’m a good shooter. I am the best.
He took the risk, and positioned himself beyond the three-point zone.
Time seemed to freeze, as he did a jumper, and released the ball.
From his view, he can see the shot clock.
Two seconds. The ball flying in mid-air. His teammates’ heads raised.
His heart thudding heavily.
Fans’ silenced for a while as they hoped, and prayed for the defining shot.
The ball neared the ring. And it hit – just the rim.
The ball tumbled back down, and the buzzer rang.
A crucial shot missed.
Several of his teammates bowed their heads in disappointment.
Fans’ energies died down.
And there he stood in the middle of the court. Stoic.
While he refused to show any emotion, he can sense the low down from the rest of his team.
Some sadly retreated to the bench,
As they were welcomed by a coach who gave reassuring taps on the back.
Martin can make out the words coming from Coach Ben’s mouth. Good job, guys. You did your best.
He can’t help but feel guilty, though. If only I got that shot in.
A teammate came from the back, and gave him an arm across the shoulder.
We just finished a season. His other teammate said.
While he glanced at him, he saw, from the corner of his eye a view of the winning team – they jumped with joy and congratulated one another. The team captain raised the golden trophy in the air, as confetti rained on them.
Just another season. He told himself, as he returned his gaze to his team at the other side, and joined them as they exit for the dugout. ###
Very good job painting that painful two seconds!!
This prompt sounded fun, I was excited to write something up. After doing so I realized I’m not so good with micro fiction. My one, time slowed down scene, ended up being 1,860 words. I don’t think posting them here in the comment is the best idea, but here is a link to my website of the story (https://storyaday.org/mholley/2014/03/28/wow-the-show-down/).
Oh Shannon, that’s amazing. I feel all emotional now…
Funny how what happened 20 years ago still remains so sharp and poignant, while what happened last week has to be dug for . . . 🙂
Well, it’s not precisely following the suggestions above for today’s prompt, but it’s what I got for ya. 🙂
We almost lost him, my sweet angel baby. Tubes and intravenous lines hold Nathan down, trapping him. He is not allowed to stretch his tiny wings and fly away. I love this tiny being more than anything, this miraculous creature I gave birth to; hang on, sweet boy – you have endured so much already.
All around me, the cries of babies and small children pierce the cathedral hush of voices in counterpoint to the perpetual clicking and beeping of machinery designed to do God’s job, or Satan’s, depending on your point of view.
Nathan tries to cry around a mouthful of trachea breathing tube. His face reddens under surgical tape, forehead puckering and tears oozing out between puffy eyelids, each glittering tear soaking into the surgical tape masking his face.
Leaning close, I softly murmur, “Mama’s here, sweet pea. I love you. I’m holding your hand.” When words run dry, songs fill the gap.
Dona Nobis Pacem, a once treasured round sung hopefully in years gone by, now lends itself to a monotonous chant, trembling and grim. You are My Sunshine lends a grim irony to the occasion. When songs sour, Dr. Seuss saves the day . . . oh, the things you can do, yes you, in this madhouse zoo.
Oh, sweet boy. The hours I’ve spent gazing on the softness of your face, while time stretched and stilled. I’ve counted seconds between each breath, holding my own until I see your lips purse, suckling perhaps on a dreamed-of breast?
The waiting is intolerable. I feel wrung dry, like a washcloth with all moisture squeezed out. There are no more tears to relieve my aching need to hear my baby cry. I am weighted down by an impossibly heavy load; yet, I feel light and wispy.
I am cloud, hovering.
I swirl in stormy patterns, crashing thunderously against the ever-changing elements of a harried medical staff.
I creep like low-lying fog around equipment and charts and well-wishes.
I settle into the valley of a neonatal crib, clinging desperately to the rails, reaching tentative fingers out to gently rub lotion onto visible patches of skin.
Tiny droplets rest on bare toes.
The cloud weeps.