This week brought several more snow storms and other bad weather along with icy streets and difficult travel. As I pondered the scene outside my office window that faces the street, I could not help but think that these types of weather conditions could be an interesting addition to one of my next projects. In fact, in The Book of Zev, a freak early snowstorm plays a part in bringing the two main characters together along with all of its suspense and complications. While I have used snowstorms in my writing, I think that I have just scratched the surface of the many options for integrating weather events into storylines.
There are many options for integrating weather conditions in your story. As we do in many of our Script Tips you can look at how your character feels about the weather – do they like it warm or cold? Are they ski fans or would they rather be sitting on the beach? What about your villains? Will this impact their behavior?
For a change, I would like to look at ways that the broader concept of the weather can impact your story. Here are a few examples of the different ways that weather can impact story lines and plot.
You can use the weather as a tool to shape the backdrop for your story such as in these films:
- Die Another Day in which the characters including James Bond chase around the Ice Castle.
- Think of the snow in White Christmas. There is even a musical number called Snow.
- Or what about the animated film Happy Feet?
In all of these films the weather, or more specifically snow and winter weather, play a part in shaping the plot.
There are other weather conditions that also set the stage for a story such as the tornado in The Wizard of Oz, or the severe storm in The Perfect Storm. Another instance is the classic film Singin’ in the Rain where the title number has become iconic (you can buy movie breakdowns for both The Wizard of Oz and Singin’ in the Rain here).
Sometimes the weather does not really appear in the film, rather it is an off-handed subject discussed by the characters to convey a concept to the audience. One example of this is in Father of the Bride with Steve Martin. When Steve Martin’s character tells his now engaged daughter that it is cool out and she might want a sweater, she ignores him, but as soon as her fiancé suggests it, she goes to get her jacket. The entire scene, based on the weather outside, is used to represent the daughter moving on from being Daddy’s little girl to a grown married woman. This is the subtext of the entire movie, both in the Steve Martin version of 1991 and in the original Spencer Tracy film by the same name from 1950.
Based on these concepts, here is the exercise:
Look at your current project, if there is no description of the weather in the current storyline, consider adding a snowstorm, or hurricane or tornado to the setting depending on the time of year. Or, conversely, what if the weather is the opposite of what you have currently chose?
- Set a timer for 15 minutes.
- Writing by hand, rewrite one scene incorporating the element of the weather. Notice how your character’s personalities might shift, what other opportunities present themselves, and other subtle changes.
- Now you can choose to either incorporate these new twists and turns or you can leave them out, but either way you will be left with richer characters as you have gained additional insight into their behavior.
For more ideas on creating richer characters, you can also buy my new video course here.
Here’s to your successful and happy writing,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz
Copyright (c)2015 by Marilyn Horowitz