Bringing a Story to Life – Turn Up the Heat

sidewalk_eggAfter a bit of writer’s frustration [read: BLOCK], I decided to go sit in the sun.  Closing my eyes, I lifted my face and allowed the heat to seep into my soul.

EMF-Land.  Given the interesting [read HELLISH] turn my life – post-2000 Bay Area relocation – took, my first thought was that heat is radiant energy.

Analytical, if not truthful, it was kind of a sensual buzzkill.

As I sat there, I considered that I’m a fiction writer, and explaining heat as radiant energy was oversimplifying things.

And dull.

I challenged myself to describe the heat.

It was unlike what I was used to.  I stopped to think about about why that was.

To do this, I had to feel.

So?  The heat was not uncomfortable.  It wasn’t the kind of heat that would drive someone indoors or leave their clothes sticking to them, though they wouldn’t want to be reading an ebook on their phone in it.

The phone would overheat.

I continued to analyze the heat and how it felt.  The thermostat suggested it was hot enough that I should be uncomfortable, yet I wasn’t.  Why?  The answer was in EMF-Land!

Story of my life.

Radiant Heat.  If its radiant, it’s probably radiating from something.

Or, it could be bouncing off something that changes its intensity..

In this case, it was bouncing off natural wood, making it comfortable, not too hot.

Like sitting in a wood sauna.

The thought of a sauna reminded me of a scene in The Lover.

Hot it Hot.  Not!

Michigan.  Michigan summers vary depending on which part of the state you live in.  For the Detroit Metro area, the general pattern is warm and humid with heat and humidity increasing throughout the week so that many weekends have rain/thunderstorms, after which it cools, only to repeat the cycle.

Especially in late May and throughout June.

As the summer progresses, so does the heat and humidity.

As do the horse flies and brown outs.

By the end of August, it’s the Dog Days of Summer.  Being a Michigander, however, you’re loving every minute of it as you know cooler days are a-comin;.

Trick or Treating in a winter coat and snow boots is a real possibility.

Florida.  Once again, it depends where you live.  I was fortunate enough to live on the Suncoast, so the humidity wasn’t bad.

Though it did rain pretty much daily at 3pm – at least on one side of the street.

Louisiana.  Probably the closest I’ve ever come to getting heat stroke.

The bus drivers decided not to show up for work on the last day of school.  My  brother, his friends, and I had to walk home in that ungodly heat and humidity.  Not fun.

Fortunately, the friends’ mother worried when her kids weren’t at the bus stop and drove out to see what was going on – picked us up walking along the hot busy freeway.

San Francisco.  Well, once again we have the caveat of it depends. If you’re over near the coast, bring your Midwest winter coat.  If you’re on the bay side, you’re going to be fine.

If you’re north, south, or east of the city, you’ll be hot in the shade, though at least it’s a dry heat.

Scottsdale.  The day we moved into our house it was 118 degrees – actual.

The day we moved into our Fort Collins’ home was minus 18 – actual.

My husband and I unloaded the truck by ourselves.  I just had lots of bottled water to keep us going – along with the stares and comments from the neighbors who thought we were nuts.


Perception.  When I moved to the East Bay, CA, a local told me I didn’t know what heat was.

Really?  Try Louisiana.  Try Michigan in late August.  Humidity puts a whole new angle to a 90 degree day.

While living in the East Bay, I had someone from Chandler, AZ say I didn’t know what heat was.

It was 114 degrees in Walnut Creek.  I’d say that was heat.

Adjective please.  As I sat in the sun and searched for the words to describe what I was feeling, I realized that the answer was actually in EMF-Land.


The heat I was feeling wasn’t so bad because it was radiating off of natural wood.

As opposed to asphalt, gravel, metal, or some other man-influenced substance.

It wasn’t the kind of heat that left your clothes sticking to you.

Eloquently please.  A waiter in Durham once told me the difference between heat in North Carolina and heat in So Cal was that at least in So Cal you could cool off in the shade.  To me, this beautifully summarizes the different ways you can put context into heat.

Important in fiction writing.

Now That’s Heat!  Imagine an outdoor passion scene in those locales.  If everything else was equal, in one place you’d be peeling the clothes from your already sweaty body while in another you may be feeling a breeze off sunburned shoulders.



Or you might shiver as shoulders burned from staying too long on Bolsa Chica Beach touched cool clover grass.


There are just so many things to love about heat…


2 thoughts on “Bringing a Story to Life – Turn Up the Heat”

  1. Excellent article. I think of a Summer , when we lived on Evergreen. Thunder rumbling in the distant; but too far off to cool things down. Laying at the end of my parents bed. Wait for that next slightly cool breeze that might come through their bedroom windows.


    1. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! While living in AZ a neighbor told me when he was a boy there was no AC and he and his family would sleep out on the front lawn in the summer.


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