This post originally appeared here at The Blood-Red Pencil on January 4, 2010, but still applies, except I no longer have a day job.
As I was walking to work in Downtown Chicago and doing my best to bypass the slippery remnants of the latest snowfall, I realized how distance can be relative. Here are a few examples:
1. Temperature – What would ordinarily be a short walk seems endless on an extremely hot or cold day. Even a drive is torture, if the heat or air conditioning in the car won't function when needed.
2. Terrain – A few steps can take forever if you're trying to negotiate an icy patch. I know this for a fact. (grin) Swimming a few feet against the current can seem like a mile.
3. Injury or Illness – If you’ve hurt your hip, leg, foot, ankle, etc., walking a short distance can be time consuming. If you’ve injured your shoulder, arm or hand, lifting that member or moving it a few inches can be a nightmare.
It may seem like traveling to the end of the world for someone with heart disease or bad lungs to walk across a parking lot from the car to a store or restaurant. Even if they're dropped off by the door, it could be difficult.
4. Age - Similar to Injury or Illness – The elderly can’t usually walk as far or as fast as the rest of the population, with the exception of those who regularly follow an exercise regimen. (I know one lady over 80 who can outdo me in Fitness Class.)
5. Direction – Climbing stairs takes longer than going down stairs. How about climbing a ladder in an elevator shaft, as the heroine does in my romantic suspense, Killer Career? That's no picnic either.
Can you think of other instances? Or, maybe you’d like to share how you’ve used distance in one of your novels.
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