As soon go kindle fire with snow, as seek to quench the fire of love with words.
– William Shakespeare
Toronto and other parts of Ontario as well as Quebec and the Maritimes got blasted with the first big snowfall of the season overnight. So I thought it might be interesting to dump some of our fiction characters into a snowstorm and see how they could behave.
My obvious choice of characters are the two friends, Millie and Jessica, from my short story “No Breaks” in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point. The story is set on a hot and humid August day but what would happen if the duo were driving up Ontario’s Highway 11 to the Muskoka cottage during a snow storm? This area gets lots of snow on the highway and with the brakes in Millie’s car failing, would Millie’s work-around that even be feasible in a snow storm? Perhaps the storm itself stalls traffic. So setting is changed but the reason for their trip up to Jessica’s family cottage wouldn’t be summer and beach related. Perhaps they are headed up there for Christmas. If you take all the other factors in the story (and I’m not telling all; you have to read the book to find out – book available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca – link to the former on the book above and to the latter on the book at the end of this post), things will change.
Think about it. The two friends will be stuck in the car on a continuous basis. Millie is already fed up with the way her life isn’t going and Jessica, a non-driver, is scared they won’t get out of their situation. Millie is a control freak and Jessica hangs onto her Blackberry like it’s her lifeline – even when there is no reception. In the actual story, the relationship between the two friends changes as Millie learns some hard facts which hurl her over her personal tripping point. This could intensify and Millie’s actions could happen much faster and maybe being stuck in the snow with Jessica might bring out new terrifying traits and changes in the two women.
In your fiction – short story or novel – put your main characters, preferably the antagonist and protagonist, stuck in a snowstorm – if not in a car, maybe at a pub, a hotel, a meeting, a resort. How would they react? Would their conflict get worse or would it give them time to pause and do something about it? And remember, these are two idnividual characters here, so one may want to sort out their differences and the other one might not. One might get nastier; one might have a fear of being trapped and how would that affect his or her character? The possibilities are endless.
Put your characters in a snowstorm – even if only as a writing exercise. It will show you different sides of your characters and perhaps give you some insights into their development that you can use in your story – snowstorm or not, for example, how do your characters deal with unexpected adversity, especially of the severe weather kind?
Now, I better psyche myself out to shovel all that snow. I don’t dream of a White Christmas season. I dream of summer and my garden. Meantime, I have a guest blog post appearing on another Crime Writers of Canada member’s blog, December 28, 2012. Check it out at http://sweatercursed.blogspot.ca/
Sharon A. Crawford