Tag Archives: weather

Plot is Exactly Like a Hail Storm

Yesterday’s plot weather stats.

  • 7:46 Temperature: 56 degrees, drizzly and windy.  Drop Littles off at school.
  • 11:25 Temperature: 71 degrees, sunny, mild breeze.  Watched boys play at recess in shorts and t-shirts.
  • 2:39 Temperature: 73 degrees, sunny and still.  Checked mail.
  • 2:57 Temperature: 66 degrees, thunder, gray.  Peeked out window after finishing a chapter.
  • 3:12 Temperature: 60 degrees, rain.  Got ready to pick up boys from school.
  • 3:17 Temperature: 54 degrees, hail.  Watched it accumulate.
  • 3:27 Temperature: 56 degrees, cloudy with a few sprinkles.  Picked up boys.
  • 3:45 Temperature:  67 degrees, sunny.  Watched boys play with hail in shorts and t-shirts.  And bare feet.

Great plot is exactly like this magical reprieve in the middle of an otherwise warm, fall day.

Don’t believe me?  Try this.  Your story is a single day.

Beginning.  Middle.  End.

Dawn kicks off our stories with an inciting incident.  It introduces us to our characters and provides the backdrop for which our story takes place.  It’s the drizzly morning that prepares us for the rest of the day.

Dusk brings our stories full circle.  Conflicts have been resolved and a certain satisfaction sets in as we crawl into bed.  We’ve accomplished much in the hours between rising and resting.  Every story must end, just as the sun dips below the horizon every day.  Guaranteed.

But the magic is in the middle.  Winds gust, temperatures fluctuate–sometimes wildly–and the skies darken and shine as our characters encounter and overcome conflicts.

With great plot, unexpected twists rain down on our characters.  These twists delight and excite readers.  They drive the action and change the course of the story.  They can also make or break a novel depending on how they are handled.

How do you increase tension in your writing?  Are you deliberate about it, or do an unexpected plot twist sneak up on as well as your MC?  Do you feel it’s important to foreshadow major turning points in  your manuscript?  If so, why and how do you do this?  If not, what is the value of blindsiding your readers?

Curious minds want to know.

Into the Fog

Another blanket of fog covered my little corner of the world yesterday.  I say another because this weather pattern has been frequent this winter.  As I embarked on my taxi rounds, I got to thinking about fog–in the novel sense.

I might be wrong when I say this, as I haven’t a shred of proof to back it up, but it seems to me that fog is the most used weather pattern in literature.  Sure the perfect storm might roll in or a blizzard may blow two almost love-birds into a cabin for a weekend.  But fog is universal.

It happens in California, London, New York and New Zealand.  It clouds up mountain tops, drifts across the roads, surrounds, engulfs, rolls in, wraps, settles, lifts, covers, swathes, shifts, hides, steals, seeps and slithers.  It performs all sorts of amazing feats that other weather doesn’t do. 

It is also synonomous with our emotions.  Which could possibly make it the most cliched weather pattern in fiction.  It’s an easy out and the perfect metaphor when things go awry.

Weather can set the tone, wreak havoc, create distractions and impede progress.  It can be the backdrop for an entire novel, or simply the ominous setting for a single chapter.  I’ve used it.  Not fog, but blizzards, tornadoes and thunder storms.  Cloudy days appear in my manuscripts and generally have some connection to my MC’s emotional state.

Agent Mary Kole discussed weather on her blog about a month back.  She stated (and I’m paraphrasing) that when people have nothing to talk about, they talk about the weather.  Since reading that, I’ve found it to be true.  And since I live in Minnesota and the weather has been interesting this past year, I have caught myself more often than not discussing the weather with acquaintances. 

What does this say about our manuscripts when they are littered with rain clouds and fog?  Are we treating our readers as acquaintances or best friends and confidants?

“Wow, some fog out there.”

“Yeah, I could barely see the mailbox when I drove right by it.”

“Took me fifteen minutes longer to get into town, it was so thick.”

“Worse than split pea soup.”

That’s boring in real life.  Reading it is torturous.  Yet it happens, because weather can be such a good barometer for the events in a book.  Over-used, however, and it loses its impact altogether.

How do you use weather in your writing?  Have your characters ever discussed it in an actual conversation?  Does fog play a part in any of your written works?  If so, was it used as setting, an incident that needed to be overcome or a metaphor for your MC’s feelings?

Which weather pattern do you find most frequently in the books you read?  Which do you like least and why?