Writing Prompt: Extremophiles and Extreme Temperatures

It’s a two-for-one prompt today!

Extremophiles are organisms (usually microscopic) that thrive in physically or chemically extreme environments normally hazardous to other living things. (If you’d like to learn more about extremophiles, check out this Wikipedia article, or this one by Microbial Life Educational Resources, or this one by NOAA, or this fun astrobiology one by the National Space Society to get your creative juices flowing).

One of my favorite science fiction books is basically about a dangerous extremophile that arrives on a meteorite from space while a small team of scientists tries to figure out how to kill it after it wipes out a small town: The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.

Writing Prompt: Extremophiles (M)

Without doing a story exactly like Michael Crichton’s (thought I highly recommend you read it), write a story about a group of scientists, perhaps exploring another planet or our own, who discover an extremophile unlike any they’ve encountered before. What are these creatures like? What are they capable of? Are they single-celled like most extremophiles, collonial like sponges, or multicellular organisms like us? Are they sentient, perhaps? In trying to study or make use of this organism, have your crew meet with both wondrous and devastating consequences.

Writing Prompt: Extreme Temperatures (ND)

(This is based on a prompt from my old blog)

Alternatively, think about a time you were extremely hot or extremely cold. What did you notice about your discomfort in that environment? Was your coat too thin? Were your ear canals aching from the cold? Was your skin burning and itchy? Numb? Wet? Lethargic? Sick?

What about your emotions: were you frustrated? Did you cry? Did your kids cry? Did someone else’s kids cry you wish hadn’t been invited? Did time seem to pass way too slowly? Did you think you were going to die or suffer serious injury?

Write a story where your character is waiting in line for something–a ride at Disneyland, a December trip on the new public train, or a ferry that is going to take people away from some sort of disaster. Create tension by making the environment extremely unpleasant and showing how your characters react to it as they wait and wait…. Make us constantly feel that heat or that cold.

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Sarah E. Seeley is a fantasy and horror author, and an affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association.
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