Writing About Fire

UPDATE: We are putting the finishing touches on my fourth book BUZZKILL so stay tuned!

While I’m waiting for this book to work its way through my beta readers for the final time I am busily working on my fifth book. For this book I am doing research on arson and fire investigations in a small town. I love the Howdunit books, and sadly cannot find much information on arson investigations.  One of the best books that I have found is  Police Procedure & Investigation: A Guide for Writers and would hope there is a fire procedural book for writers.

Write a scene from this burned out building.   What kind of business was it?  How did it catch fire?  Is it arson or accident?

Write a scene from this burned-out building.
What kind of business was it? How did it catch fire? Is it arson or accidental?

There is an excellent listing of a forest fire at the Bookshelf Muse blog and many of those descriptive words and phrases can be used for a fire in a building. They break it down into the five senses which is extremely helpful. I have also started collecting pictures of downtown buildings on fire. I also picked up some interesting information at the Fema website

Superheated air can sear your lungs.

The smoke inhalation can make you feel drowsy and disoriented.

Fires often produce poisonous gases.

Putting this information into character mode any of my characters caught in the fire could become disoriented and  have to be rescued or could possibly die. Putting a fire into a story can be a real game changer.

Then after the fire, the landscape can be painted in blacks and grays portraying sadness and devastation. The tone of the setting would be instrumental in creating a mood both within the story and within the character. I had a friend many years ago whose family home had burned down and he kept remarking how he couldn’t get the smell of smoke out of his clothing. This would be another great character moment to add.

In writing my books I have researched how to blow up outhouses, how to be in a beauty pageant, how to record a ghost, and even where the microchip goes on a dog.  I love my job.

Do you know of any great passages in literature that describe a building fire? Please feel free to share in the comment section.

 

Photo found at Morguefile

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