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May 09, 2016

Writing About: A Tsunami


When I set out to write this post, a million things flooded my brain, and then my mind went blank. I’ve come to the conclusion that this post is the most difficult one I’ve EVER had to write in the three years I’ve done this Writing About feature on my blog. Because of that, I’m abandoning my normal format of 5-10 pointers with detailed descriptions for each. Instead, I’ve constructed a list of things to remember.


Keep in mind this is for a devastating tsunami:

-       Flocks of birds fly away from the shore (away from the wave).

-       A rumbling sound in the air and all around.

-       A blast of wind and mist.

-       The wave approaches like a massive (40-50 foot) wave on the shore but with impeccable speed and surprising force.

-       People caught in the wave are twisted round and round.

-       Objects hit them in the water.

-       They struggle to reach the surface and keep their head above the water.

-       It’s almost impossible to hold their breath.

-       If they survive the initial impact and don’t drown, many try to grab onto something. Anything.

-       The water rushes them inland (most can travel for one mile).

-       The wave is so strong that it can lift vehicles, toss boats, tear apart houses, and even uproot trees.

-       There’s usually more than one wave in a tsunami and the first isn’t even the biggest.

-       After sometime, the movement slows, stops, and then reverses. This is when people and debris get carried out to sea.

-       Debris will be everywhere. The ground will be muddy and flooded in some places.

-       Survivors will have injuries (bruises, cuts, deep gashes, broken bones, etc.)

-       Some survivors are either naked or missing articles of clothing because the water ripped it off their bodies.

-       Getting to safety and higher ground is the #1 goal along with finding loved ones they may never see again.

-       When aid arrives, helicopters will be flying over, people will be searching for survivors and the dead, and supplies will be coming in, such as food, water, and blankets.

-       Most people will go to shelters and the hospital for treatment and to search for loved ones.

-       It takes many years for places hit by a massive tsunami to get back to normal, and even then it will never be like it once was. Same can be said for the survivors.


I recommend watching The Impossible about the tsunami that hit Thailand in 2004 and reading true accounts from tsunami survivors. But also to do a lot of research about tsunamis and the setting of your story to understand what would happen if a tsunami struck that specific location.


QUESTION: Have you see the movie THE IMPOSSIBLE? What do you think about the disaster for Book 3 being a tsunami?

 

72 comments:

Sarah Foster said...

Congrats on sending the third book to your publisher! That's exciting!
I didn't really know all that much about tsunamis. They sound very scary.

nashvillecats2 said...

This was wonderful to read, I thankful we don't get Tsunami's here, what havoc it causes. I wish you all the best with the publisher.
Enjoy your week.
Yvonne.

Roland Clarke said...

Fascinated by tsunamis and terrified by them. Never seen Impossible but was amazed by experiences of survivors of Japanese tsunami after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.

Congratulations on next great step with Book 3.

sage said...

When we moved to the coast when I was nine, I had a lot of tsunami nightmares... There is an Indonesian author (I have my books of him in my office) that has written about tsunamis. It would be a good introduction. Also, in the 2004 disaster, there was a train caught in the wave in Sri Lanka and everyone drown as it was rolled around. I think the same thing happened in the Japanese disaster of 2010. Remember, before the waves (it isn't one wave) hits, the water is sucked out

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You picked an interesting disaster and one that had been in the news. With all the seismic activity lately, we might get more disasters.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys ... I sincerely hope I don't have to be in a Tsunami - it must have been terrifying for everyone ... not a good experience ... Hilary

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you!

Tsunamis are scary. They're the scariest disaster I've written about so far.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm thankful too, but you never know where one could be triggered.

Thank you! :)

Chrys Fey said...

Fascinated and terrified. Yup, that's the perfect way to describe it for me too. The survivors stories are amazing. What they went through inspired my story.

Thank you!

Chrys Fey said...

I could understand a child having nightmares of tsunamis. I used to have a lot of fires and tornadoes because of living in Florida. I see do.

Chrys Fey said...

Yes. It was very strange that the day Seismic Crimes came out the earthquake happened in Ecuador. It was a 7.8 quake and in my book it's a 7.4. :\

Chrys Fey said...

I don't think I'd be able to survive one, especially since I can't really swim.

betty said...

How cool with your third in the series; hope the publisher likes it!

I just hope I never end up in a tsunami. We would have tsunami warnings along some beaches in San Diego area after earthquakes; not much ever came out of them though, of which I'm grateful.

betty

sherry fundin said...

Congrats on the sendoff. I am excited to see what you do with the tsunami and enjoyed the post. I loved Hurricane Crimes and am eager to follow the series to the end. :-)
sherry @ fundinmental

Chrys Fey said...

I hope so too! I feel this is the best story yet for my series.

I've heard about tsunami warnings on the coast and the waves are pretty small. I hope they stay that way!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you! It'll be about 3 months before I hear back. I'll have to keep busy in the meantime.

Thank you, Sherry! :D

Nicola said...

That huge wave looks horrifying. Congrats on Seismic Crimes, Chrys. Great post. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Tsunami sounds like an interesting disaster to have in a story. Good luck with it. My fingers are crossed your publisher likes it.

Chrys Fey said...

I hope my publisher likes it too. I feel strongly that this is the best one so far.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Nicola!

Lisa Thomson said...

Just reading your description of a Tsunami scares me. It strikes fear in my heart. The images are frightening! That said, I think it makes a great backdrop for a disaster crime story. I would be overwhelmed to attempt writing about the event itself.

I saw The Impossible and it was hard to watch! It was very well done and the special effects were amazing. Apparently the actors spent several hours in tanks for underwater scenes. It must have been a trying movie to film for them.

Pat Hatt said...

Never seen that movie. But after reading those I hope I never ever get caught in a tsunami

Chrys Fey said...

I actually found it so easy to write about. It was easier than the earthquake and the disaster I'm currently writing for Book 4.

The Impossible was incredibly done. Shocking and scary and amazing.

Chrys Fey said...

I hope I never do either.

Birgit said...

Excellent points for something that is from nature and so devastating. I can't hold my breath for 30 seconds never mind 3 minutes like some survivors did. I would have drowned for sure. Of course, I have seen The Impossible and actually own the DVD. It is a riveting film that is based on a true story except the family was Spanish.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Book three! Very awesome.
There are so many videos and images from the one that hit Japan a few years ago as well. Some were really chilling.

Christine Rains said...

Awesome title! I haven't seen that particular film, but I've watched shows about tsunamis on PBS and the science channel. So scary.

Lidy said...

Congrats on the latest manuscript in the series! 😄 I've never seen the movie The Impossible but have seen San Andreas and 2012 which features tsunami scenes. Even though it's special effects, it still takes my breath away to see that giant wall of water moving towards you with every intent to crush, rip and drown everything in its path.

cleemckenzie said...

What a great list of specifics! I can almost read those scenes right now.

Carrie-Anne said...

Congratulations on your new book! I hope I never personally experience a tsunami, or anything similar like a flood or monsoon. The worst disasters we have in Upstate NY are blizzards, with the occasional experience of being on the mild receiving end of a hurricane or earthquake.

diedre Knight said...

The photos make me glad I live in Arizona! Tsunamis make our monsoons looks like April showers;-) If your book is as good (and I'm sure it is) as your outline, you have another winner! Way to go:-)

Chrys Fey said...

I would drown too. I can barely swim as it is.

I want to own The Impossible on DVD. It's a very good movie.

Chrys Fey said...

I never saw the real footage. Well, other than what might have been shared on the news.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks! It is scary.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Lidy! :D I haven't seen San Andreas, but I want to. It is amazing how real that make it look. I always get scared watching those big waves. Like on Deep Impact. Oh, chills.

Chrys Fey said...

Awesome. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Carrie-Anne! I hope I never experience one in real life, too. It was enough to write about it.

Chrys Fey said...

Haha. I think you're safe in Arizona.

I truly feel that it's the best one of the series.

Kelly Steel said...

Great advice and tips Chrys. Thanks for sharing.

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome! :)

Sandra Cox said...

Wow! Your Tsunami descriptions had me tensing and breathing harder. Good job!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you! Now just imagine reading my scenes. ;)

caz greenham said...

Great!
Visited from @CazsBooks Twitter
http://cazgreenham.blogspot.com

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

It's scary enough watching a tsunamis on a video or in a movie. I can't even imagine how horrifying it would be to be stuck in the middle on one. Loved all your descriptions. You've certainly done your research.

Kelly Hashway said...

I can't even imagine the devastation it would cause to actually be there during a Tsunami.

Chrys Fey said...

It was pretty scary just putting my mind there to write about what happens to my characters.

Chrys Fey said...

It is pretty unimaginable.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for visiting, Caz.

Liz A. said...

Very scary. We had a tsunami warning once, and the kiddos at school freaked out. I reminded them that we were several miles inland and unlikely to be affected.

Elizabeth said...

A tsunami is such a devastating disaster, so many lives are lost. I hope everything gets approved for your next book!

Jax said...

I love the idea of using a tsunami as the disaster. It's crazy how much research has to go in to every detail when writing a book.

Tamara Narayan said...

This is a great idea. I haven't seen The Impossible, but now I really want to. I also remember hearing/reading that the water recedes a lot before the tsunami hits. These things are terrifying.

Nick Wilford said...

Your level of research is great. It's hard to imagine many things more terrifying than a tsunami. Congrats on the manuscript!

Chrys Fey said...

I can imagine how scared the kids were. I remember having tornado warnings in school.

Chrys Fey said...

It really is devastating. The aftermath in my book is astonishing, because it's like that in real life.

Chrys Fey said...

So much research, especially for something like this.

Chrys Fey said...

The Impossible is an amazing movie. Shocking and scary, but amazing. Yes, the water does rush out to meet the approaching wave. I don't like imagining what would happen to the people in the water at the time, or on the beach.

Chrys Fey said...

I truly can't imagine a more devastating natural disaster.

Thanks, Nick!

Unknown said...

Congrats on getting Tsunami Crimes to your publisher! Those pictures look horrifying. I can't even imagine being in the middle of such a natural disaster (knock on wood).

Mary Kirkland said...

Congrats on the new book. I think tsunami's are just crazy scary. I'm so glad I don't live near the water anymore.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Congrats! A tsunami would be terrifying. Where do you go?

Romance Book Haven said...

Congrats on the new book. Tsunamis scare me.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Qaunie! :D It was hard to imagine it for my book.

Chrys Fey said...

It's not out yet. I still have to wait for my publisher to say they want it. *fingers crossed*

Chrys Fey said...

You really can't do anything to escape them. If there's a warning system, it might give you enough time to get to higher ground, further inland.

Chrys Fey said...

Tsunamis scare me too.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Yes I can finally comment! Yesterday I kept getting a 502 error. Anyway, congrats Chrys and I'm glad I don't live near the ocean. Still I live on an island so...

Chrys Fey said...

502 error? Yikes! I'm glad it's gone now.

lol I live in Florida. I'm not close to the coast, but it's still scary thinking about.

Linda Fast said...

I've never been through any disasters but my town was hit by a tornado. I heard the howling wind and the torrential rains but I was so tired that I put the covers over my head and went to sleep. The next morning my balcony looked like someone had thrown all my stuff around, pots were broken with flowers strewn all over. I went out to the parking lot to find tree limbs all over. Three blocks down the street it was total devastation. I was so fortunate as was my town that no lives were lost.

Jeffrey Scott said...

Cool! A third book. I love the theme for your third book, mostly because I think a Tsunami would be one of the worst ways to die or experience. That feeling of devastation along with feeling like losing someone at the same time can be Earth shattering. I'm sure this will be a great read.

Chrys Fey said...

A tornado is frightening. I think that is one disaster I won't include in my series. Thank you for telling me about your experience, Linda! I got chills.

Chrys Fey said...

I also believe the tsunami is the worst disaster. There is so much destruction and so many deaths because of it in Tsunami Crimes.