Brainstorming Unusual Character




Oops. The Ruby calendar had a few holes, so I thought we’d talk weather today. Not what it’s like in your area (however, you certainly can share), but how weather is used in our novels to trigger change in our characters’ lives. We know the well-worn cliché of the hero and heroine trapped in a cabin during a snow storm, but we don’t want to do cliché. We want to write fresh ideas

Did you see THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE? How about THE GRAPES OF WRATH? Those are two off the top of my head movies/books where weather was the catalyst for change in many lives.

I’m about to begin a new story for my PERFECT LOVE line and I’ve been brainstorming, thinking about my characters and how I can use weather to change their lives, and/or to up the conflict and anxiety. I’m thinking a flash flood wipes away the wedding set-up, thus putting everything on hold. Enter in a contractor who steals the maid of honor’s heart from the groom’s brother.

Here are a few others examples:

A high heat index causes a blackout situation, sending the tenants of an apartment building to the cool basement.

Lightening brings down a tree limb causing a car accident.

A hail storm causes a delay in a flight.

A sunny day on the beach causes a severe sunburn and sends the victim to the ER—step onto the page Doctor do-me- good.

Hot day melts all the icing on the cupcakes, or the wedding cake, the heroine has made.

While camping, a calm night has the heroine hearing every twig snapping, causing her to build big a really big fire which gets out of control.

A sand storm causes a woman to lose her way on the back roads of Arizona.

Okay, this is an interactive blog, so come on, think out of the box, and share your ideas for ways weather can affect your story, or share an example of something you’ve read.Golden Sun



10 responses to “Brainstorming Unusual Character”

  1. Rita Henuber says:

    Weather is a character in The Martian, The Revenant, Twister, Sharknado, Perfect Storm, The Day After Tomorrow. Remember when we began writing and the writing oracle, They Say, said never to open a book or chapter with the weather? Well poppycock. I Say (that’s me talking like an oracle) if you open with “It was a dark and stormy day on a planet that didn’t have dark or storms.” Or “it was a bright and sunny day. The first one in the hundred and twenty years since the war.” Nobody cares as long as the story is good.

  2. It’s not a HUGE part of the plot, but in my first novel, there’s a scene where the hero and heroine (and the rest of their party, consisting of a tiring woman and several men-at-arms – lots of supervision) are forced to camp in a clearing overnight while they travel from Worcestershire to London. The heroine, a well-bred noble girl who has never spent a night outdoors, lies awake listening to every snapping branch, every crackle of the fire, and every rustle of a wild animal in the trees around them. She gets so worked up that she convinces herself a highwayman’s found them and is about to rob and murder them all, so she takes up a branch and proceeds to try and club him to death. Of course, it’s only the hero, coming back from relieving himself in the woods. So it’s not a big part of my plot, but it is a device that helped me develop their relationship.

  3. I had a blackout in my book, END GAME, that occurred during a summer heat wave in Chicago. That was interesting to research…which facilities would have generators, etc.

    Though it wasn’t due to weather, there was a two-day blackout in Michigan several years back, when I lived there. The thought of how people react to those circumstances makes great fodder for suspense stories!

  4. Oh a blackout is a unusual circumstance. Good for you at writing a fresh idea, Anne Marie. I’m sure during the research you found a lot of interesting stories.

  5. Great post, Autumn!

    We have a lot of hurricanes where I live, and they can cause all sorts of havoc. How about a heroine stranded on a roof who refuses to get off unless the rescuer takes her dog with her. Lots of pooches get misplaced when these storms trample towns.

    And I spend time in Maine where the fog seems like a villain, snaking around the islands to ribbon into land, blocking out everything. I once almost walked into a moose in the thick fog there!

  6. elise hayes says:

    I really love books that convey a strong sense of place…and weather is often a part of that. It can impact plot (as in the examples you’ve cited, Autumn), or it can convey mood. I particularly find it effective when writers deliberately set a scene in the opposite weather than the mood might suggest.

    Two real-world examples (instead of fiction): Think of the clear blue sky on both the day of the Challenger explosion and on 9/11. The brightness of those days–the perfection of those blue skies–is part of the heartbreak.

    • You are so right, Carol. I remember the day my DH passed. It was the most beautiful spring day. I wondered how the world could seem so perfect when my heart was filled with grief.

      Thanks for sharing.


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