Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weather Villains

Severe weather can be a great antagonist in any genre, particularly suspense, horror and mysteries in all its subgenres. I often use weather in my books: pea soup fog, rain, blizzards. floods, tornadoes or high winds because weather creates drama and pits humans against nature.

In my novel, A Village Shattered, a San Joaquin Valley serial killer hides in opaque fog and kills residents of a retirement village alphabetically. Two widows, Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty, realize their names are on the killer's list and brave the fog to discover who's killing their friends.

Diary of Murder begins in a Rocky Mountain blizzard while Dana and Sarah are vacationing in Colorado when they learn of Dana’s sister’s death. Her husband claims it was suicide but Dana knows better and drives their 37-foot motorhome through a storm, which no one in her right mind would attempt, but I wrote that scene from experience.

In Murder on the Interstate, Dana and Sarah discover the body of a young woman in her Mercedes convertible during a rainstorm in northern Arizona. Later, they’re caught in a flash flood in a rented Hummer while pursed by a serial killer during a severe downpour. They have to be rescued by helicopter but they’re still not out of the woods.

I can’t think of a villain much worse than Hurricane Irene, which threatened the lives of millions of residents on the Eastern seaboard. Weather can set the mood for a scene, serve as a barrier to solve a problem or kill those foolhardy enough to venture into it. However, weather scenes that aren't designed to further the plot should be avoided.


  1. Great writing tip, Jean. Every story situation should move the plot forward.

  2. Now I just want to hunker inside during a storm!