Before AND After
This writing exercise helped me deepen my story.
Five minutes or a day before a traumatic event, characters have no inkling of what is to come. Their lives follow their day-to-day routies then, Wham! A major traumatic event arrives. So…
Write that calm. Soothe the reader so that when the trauma arrives, the reader is doubly shaken.
After the traumatic event has been exposed, write the after.
Go back to the calm and use elements from that time as contrast to reactions/actions that followed the trauma.
Example: Marta was kneading bread (mundane activity)before hearing the news of a good friend’s death (the trauma). Hours later, Marta returns to the kitchen. The dough is oozing from the bowl, ruined by rising too long (a new view, changed by the trauma; the dough represents the affect of the event on her day-to-day life).