Monday, February 7, 2011

Idea Garage Sale: Storm Stories

I didn't post yesterday because we weren't home most of the day. The person hosting the game offered to let us use his nice hot shower and we jumped at the chance, spending most of the day over there.

In any case an Idea Garage Sale on such a weekend is probably redundant. We all spent a fair amount of time looking at the weather maps, comparing our situations with those of others, and making narrative sense out of the natural chaos of the weather intersecting with the imposed order of human society.

Weather events like the one just past are not story events in and of themselves. They have no plots, no motives, no structure, and no resolutions. Weather is a setting element, not a plot element. Yet they can provide complicating factors and trigger plot elements for any kind of story. My own weather experience, absorbing as it is for me, has little inherent drama, but could be tweaked and ordered into service as the setting of a comedy in which the game, but impractical, homeowners improvised increasingly elaborate arrangements to meet the challenges the weather induced in their ramshackle old home. If we were the sort of people who gave dinner parties with consequences our situation could have created a nice little social farce.

But you don't have to go far in this weather to invoke tragedy. A toddler got lost from a trailer park in a nearby town Friday night - abducted, or wandered out and froze to death? Although I can't presently find a link for it, a local charity was told by the city to stop offering homeless people places to sleep out of the cold because they weren't licensed as a shelter; to the best of my knowledge, they told the city to stuff it and did so anyway. We had over 800 accidents here in town Friday, because we don't know how to drive on ice and we don't know how to get anywhere without driving.

Here's a setting for mystery writers: A snowed in airport. Thousands of stranded travelers. A murder. A McGuffin. A detective who isn't even supposed to be in this town, diverted from his original destination and existing in the same disoriented limbo as the suspects.

It's hard not to look at the satellite photos of the storm and not think in blockbuster terms. What are the military applications of weather control technology?

I'm too lightheaded and have too much housework to do to follow up on any of these ideas; but seriously, do I need to? What stories crossed your mind as you hunkered down in the storm?

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