Author and blogger JPC Allen shares writing prompts and tips on her blog JPC Allen Writes. Today she’s visiting to share some wintery inspiration.
Happy reading and writing!
The weather is a villain any writer can use. It’s better than a human one because it doesn’t require a logical motivation for its nastiness. The weather can betray a hero at any time, and the author has no obligation to devise an explanation. If the hero can survive or outwit the weather, he looks even more heroic.
Winter conditions bring their own unique stamp to villainous weather. I’m writing from my experience of living through winters in the Buckeye State. If you decide to use winter weather as writing inspiration, be sure to take advantage of any features peculiar to your area.
Treacherous driving conditions
When my husband and I were dating, he drove home from a date and got caught on the highway after a layer of ice coated the road. As car after car spun out around him, he realized if he kept a slow pace, 25 mph, and didn’t touch his brakes, he would make it.
That setting would be ideal for a character wrestling with some problem. The experience of driving under those difficult conditions and getting home safely makes her see that she can overcome the problem with steady persistence. In such a story the weather is both a villain and, if not a friend, at least an assistant.
I can use the challenges of bad driving conditions to examine a relationship, based on what happened to my husband and me during the second Thanksgiving we celebrated as a married couple. We left work on Wednesday evening to stay with my in-laws for the holiday. We headed north, and a snowstorm turned a two-hour drive into a three-hour suspense drama.
In this setting, I could create a newly engaged couple or a couple who have been married for decades as my main characters. The story could have a tragic, comic, or dramatic tone, or a combination of those. Whatever kind of story I decide to write, problems with the storm force the couple to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of their relationship.
Stranding a character in a storm can lead to revelations about himself, like the treacherous driving conditions. But how about a snowstorm as a humorous villain?
A few weeks before Christmas, my family attended a party hosted by a good friend. It was so icy when we left that night that I told my friend she might have to let people stay over if they didn’t leave soon. What if that happened?
A couple hosts a business Christmas party at their house in the country. Some of their colleagues they like, and others they cannot stand. When icy road conditions force all the guests to stay the night, everyone must learn to tolerate each other. Or not, depending on what humor the author wants to use.
This is another situation in which the weather is both villain and friend. As a parent, I love days off from school as much as my kids. That’s one less day to race around. Since I work from home, it’s not as stressful as it could be for two parents who both work outside the home. A humorous story could be written about the lengths the parents have to go to get to work and take care of their kids on a snow day.
A snow day is a wonderful setting for a middle grade mystery. Because both parents work, the oldest child, a teen, is responsible for watching her siblings on a snow day. The younger brother and sister meet with friends in the neighborhood and solve a mystery by the end of the day.
What other stories have you read or would like to write using winter weather as writing inspiration?
JPC Allen started her writing career in second grade with an homage to Scooby Doo. She’s been tracking down mysteries ever since. A former children’s librarian, she is a member of ACFW and has written mystery short stories for Mt. Zion Ridge Press. Her Christmas mystery “A Rose from the Ashes” was a Selah finalist at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in 2020. Online, she offers writing tips and prompts. She also leads writing workshops for tweens, teens, and adults, encouraging them to discover the adventure of writing. A lifelong Buckeye, she has deep roots in the Mountain State. Join the adventure on her Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads pages and at her website, JPC Allen Writes.