Who? What? Where? When? Why? And how? The writer’s life, more than most, orbits these six mysteries. Chief among them is who. Characters are the backbone of storytelling. Somebody must want something, fight for something, and need it badly enough— no whims— for readers to engage. The reader himself is a character, bringing his or her experiences to the story world to interact on the stage that we writer’s set. A stage peopled with a supporting cast.
Enter the POLAR VORTEX.
Today’s headline on Fox—RETURN OF THE VORTEX: ‘Brutal’ arctic surge to send temperatures plunging, bring ‘life threatening’ cold snap—is certainly an attention getter.
The line makes the weather out to be a character of sorts. A force to be feared, battled, a significant something that will bring death if not properly engaged. That’s motivation. That’s the why that gets characters up and running and readers turning pages.
But weather can be a villain. It can be a silent, facilitating friend. It can take the place of a lover when a soft breeze fills the lonely void, soothing the burn of the sun with the gentlest caress. However you’d like to view it, the weather is something to which every reader can relate. And more often than not engage with when writers use this oft forgotten cast member to add drama, intrigue, and catharsis.
Award winning novelist and writing coach, K.M. Weiland is another firm believer that weather is a writer’s friend. Not boring description to be skipped.
So why not give weather the attention it deserves? Why not let the weather work for you. You can control it in your novel after all.
The following clip intended for children–a venue I love because these kind of videos break things way down–gives an examples of extreme weather and what it can do.
My list of potential extreme villains and/or facilitating friends includes the following:
- Flash flood
- Blizzard (A best friend if the hero/heroine end up snowed in together. With food of course! Otherwise it could turn into a horror story.)
- Heat wave (Cars do break down, people. Been there. Done that. I have no love loss for the Mojave or oasis gas stations that gouge women with heat stroking cats in transit.)
- Tornado (Two greeted the family and I when we caravanned to Florida back in ’03. One from the Atlantic, another from the Gulf. My first taste of southern hospitality.)
- Hurricane (My husband’s recollections of his time spent in Japan is absolutely book worthy.)
- Hail (Colorado lovelies–not.)
- The dreaded Derecho (Humid as hell with lightning striking like a mad dog.)
- Dystopian drought
- Gray days (The kind that grate on like a nagging in-law.)
- Brilliant blue skies (A great contrast to a psychological thriller or heaped up saccharine for a depressed protagonist. Blue skies don’t always translate to happy.)
You get the idea? I know you do. We’re writers. Creative people. It’s just nice sometimes to get permission to do what instinct insists upon. So what’s your weather go to. I’d love to add it to the list. Now stay warm–THE VORTEX COMMETH–and…