Adventures in NaNo-land – Weathering the Storm

November 22, 2012 at 2:40 am (Elliot, fantasy, Fervor, Links, Sam, writing) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Well, I’ve made it – I reached the 50,000 word mark which means I successfully completed this year’s NaNoWriMo as of day 21. That’s a great start, but my novel still has 9 more chapters to go, so I’m challenging myself to see how far I can get by the end of day 30.

I had help getting there today. I love writing action scenes, and had one at the end of today’s chapters. Those scenes just fly by for me, the words pouring out effortlessly. I’m all about the excitement.

It was a particularly interesting scene as well because it included something I mentioned in yesterday’s post. I had talked about climate and weather, and the end of Chapter 11 involved a pretty brutal storm.

One thing I’ve noticed that can be lacking in certain books with regards to realism is the weather. Unless your story is set in a very arid area, like a desert, there ought to be the occasional scene that includes inclement weather. I’m always perplexed by a novel set mostly outdoors, like many fantasy or adventure novels, where it never rains (or snows or hails or whatever other form of precipitation can be expected in the area described. ) I consider that a bit of an epic fail, not only because it’s not realistic, but the writer is losing out on a very effective plot device. It can even be one with symbolic value.

Take Golding’s Lord of the Flies for example. Rain has strong symbolism in that story. It’s a purge, a way of clearing away trouble, washing away the residue of bad things that have happened and starting afresh.

I used storms in a symbolic way in my book, Fervor. The storms were a portent of new things, a means of delivering things to an island that was near inaccessible. They delivered information to Sam, Elliot’s messages from the Mainland, and at one point they even carry Elliot to him in person.

There are many other ways to use weather to influence your plot. Bad weather can be an omen and carry with it troublesome things. If you have two characters having difficulty relating to one another, a storm can force them to take shelter together and have a bonding experience. A storm can cause a delay in a character’s progress, forcing them to take a step back and re-evaluate the way they are doing things. Bad weather can play the role of the catalyst, forcing a character to do something they might not otherwise do.

At the same time, I can understand a writer’s reluctance to include inclement weather. It’s messy. If not integrated properly into the plot, it adds complications. It can put a damper on plot advancement in a way some writers may not deem valuable. But not using it is a lost opportunity. Rainy or snowy weather adds realism, challenge and a change in perspective.

Here’s a sample of how I used bad weather in Chapter 11:

Something wet struck Oaván’s cheek and then landed in his hair. He glanced upwards. The rain had not waited for them to reach the waiting shelter of the petroglyph’s rock outcropping. It had already begun, the wind picking up as well. By the time they arrived at their goal for the day they would both be wet and cold, with little dry tinder and therefore no means to start a fire.

“This just goes from bad to worse.” He sighed. “I was hoping we might have the gods’ favour in this.”

“We can only count on that from Laib Olmai,” Lieđđi said. “He doesn’t control the weather. That’s Bieggagallis’s domain, and apparently, right now, he feels the need to make it rain.”

“And Biegkeålmaj feels the need to make the warm season winds blow,” Oaván remarked, “Only these winds are not so warm, nor is the rain.” He noticed an added chill to the air, a reminder that the warm season would shortly be coming to an end. “Let’s just hope that Bajanolmmai doesn’t choose to join them.”

As if in answer to Oaván’s words, the skies chose that moment to crackle and boom, making both him and Lieđđi jump. She turned and glared at him as if what he had said had invoked the wrath of the god somehow.

“Perhaps he considered that an invitation,” she grumbled. The rain was getting heavier and, along with the wind, it plastered her fine blond hair to her face.

“Let’s just hurry, shall we,” Oaván said, having to raise his voice somewhat to be heard above the increasing wind.

By the time they reached the edge of the meadow, the driving rains had them soaked to the bone and they both shivered from the cold. The skies were even heavier with shadow by that point, lit up on occasion by a flash of lightning in the distance.

“This is it!” Lieđđi called out to him. “It won’t be much longer before we’re safe within sanctuary and at least somewhat drier.”

“Let’s run then.”

They started their sprint across the open, grassy terrain. Normally, they would have made the trip to the other side quite quickly, but the rain had been coming down steadily for some time. The fertile soil of the meadow had readily absorbed the water, becoming more mud than solid earth. That mud now caught and pulled at Oaván’s boots and Lieđđi’s bare feet. It slowed their advance drastically, almost tripping them up at times.

You can find the rest of the chapter here:

More tomorrow J


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: