You might look at these photos and think there is nothing remarkable about water on flowers, on trees. Seen it before, you might say.
But when you consider that these droplets fell upon the parched lips of flowering hedgehog cacti, the bone-dry petals of desert marigolds, and the smooth pistachio-colored branches of Sonoran Desert palo verde trees, the meaning changes a bit.
(Below photos are worth clicking on to enlarge details! I’m only slightly biased.)
In the desert, fallen water seems to cling just a little longer. A little more frantically. And with a little more appreciation – even though the lifesaving liquid is essential in every environment, arid or lush. We need it. Animals need it. Plants need it. Our bodies are made of it (70 percent). The Earth’s surface is covered by it (another 70 percent). Water makes the world go round. It is life’s elixir.
There’s just something about the rain’s arrival in such a thirsty, baked environment, the soft plop, plop of drops hitting dry dirt. The way plants and animals transform during drought conditions, scraggly and sad, begging for a hint of the sustaining stuff. When the skies do open, if even for a short while, life seems renewed almost instantly.
For Writers: Author of The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler, proposes that nearly every story ever written follows a hero’s journey inspired by mythology. One leg of the hero’s journey is the “Approach to the Inmost Cave,” during which the main character approaches the central ordeal or adventure of the novel. It’s the time, Vogler says, when authors remind the audience of the “ticking clock” (i.e. If my MC doesn’t reach water within the hour, his organs will fail. If she doesn’t change her lifestyle, she will lose her children). Readers are reminded of the “life-and-death quality of the issue at hand” for the main character.
What is that one thing that YOUR character has to have to survive – beyond life-sustaining water? Or what is that one thing she thinks she has to have, or she’ll die – literally or metaphorically? And how does wanting this thing, or needing it, raise the stakes for your character? Does the desire result in bad decisions? Do those decisions result in danger, growth, healing?