Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Make Use of A Good Storm In Your Stories

Around 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon, it started to rain in our town, and it kept on raining all the rest of the afternoon, into the evening and on through the night. Lighting and thunder kept us on our toes throughout the period. We saw announcements of flooding in some areas of our community. The official rain amount was over 4 inches on this morning's radio broadcast, but that is taken a few miles outside of town in our airport area. And I wonder if it is only til midnight, rather than the duration of the storm. My wondering comes from the fact that when we checked our own raing guage this morning, it totaled 7 inches!

Ken was out three  times last evening to check our window wells which have given us problems on other heavy rain occasions. Happily, all was well but he came in soaked after each check. The newscasts showed flooding in the K-State campus area and farther on downtown in one section that is renowned for flooding. All campus streets were closed at one time last night. Storms like this affect us in various ways. 

This brings me to today's post topic. Weather plays an important part in storytelling. Using a storm, whether rain or snow, hail or ice, can create interest and excitement in what otherwise coudl be a bland story. If a protagonist is already having a tough time, throw him/her into a terrible storm situation and readers interest level moves up a few notches.

Many seafaring stories use at least one good storm to bring a situation with the characters to a head, or an end, perhaps. Nothing like a boat being slammed about by huge waves to make characters reveal all kinds of things. Tornados put the excitement notch up quite a lot, too. Or a blizzard where characters get lost or even frozen to death. Put your character in an ice storm with little or nothing to protect him/her and you've got a nail-biting situation for the reader. 

Even bitter cold can create interest in a story. Recently, I read Louis L'Amour's Last of the Breed which takes place in Siberia. An American pilot spends nearly a full year crossing Siberia, an area of Russia, to make his escape via the Bering Sea. In this story the cold seemed an actual character rather than only a weather phenomenon. I shivered at times as I read about the intense cold the pilot had endured. This was a rereading of a novel I'd enjoyed back in the mid-eighties when it was published.

One of the first lessons in a childrens' wriers correspondence course uses a picture prompt. Two children are running across a barnyard with a tornadoic clous in the distance. The student is asked to write a story using the picture. Obviously, weather will have a big rold in the story.

For a writing exercise, you might makes lists of adjectives that would be useful in describing various weather patterns. Make another list of the types of weather that might be used in writing fiction. Make yet another list of what characters' reactions to various weather situations might be. Bringing them to mind with these lists might be helpful in bringing them back to mind when you are writing a story. 

Storms can be an exciting tool for the writer. Go back through some of your already-written stories and ask yourself where you might insert a storm scene to create some excitement, to illustrate a point, or to show your character in a difficult situation. Does he have true grit? Does he cower and hide? Does he play the hero? Your choice!

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