It looks like I wore my sandals for the last time this year yesterday. October is a strange month in Wisconsin–on some days we have three seasons in a 24-hour period. It’s 70 degrees one minute and 20 degrees a few hours later. That’s the way yesterday was. And sadly now my sandals are packed away.
Every year I go through this sad event when I no longer can let my manicured toes breathe freely. I love warm weather, but I happened to be born in a place that only has warm weather for three months. I know the stork just plopped me down in the wrong part of the country. Yeah, let’s blame it the nasty stork!
I thought of moving more than once, but unfortunately I would have to move for more than just pleasant weather. My friends and family are here. My memories are here. And when I dream about sandy beaches and warm temperatures, I know that I’ll never leave here. My life is here, and I would miss everything that makes me myself.
So, is there anyway I can use this fact of being located in the WRONG place to my advantage? Sure–God made me a writer. I can pour this disappointment into the characters in my story. For example, there’s the city kid who gets plopped in the country. An immigrant from a tropical climate who settles in New York. There’s also the person who grew up in a cold climate and finds herself in the desert of North Africa.
When you have a personal understanding of what it feels like to be in the wrong place, you can write such a scenario. It doesn’t matter that you’ve you’ve never been a city kid in the country or an immigrant or a nurse in the desert. Readers are interested in how characters react to uncomfortable situations, and lucky for us writers, we always have the weather to help us out. Will our characters whine about their situation or will they face it head on? Will they cower when it’s cold, or be the one who puts another log on the fire? Tough situations make characters reveal their true identity.
So the next time you’re stumped trying to create a character, put them in a situation that is uncomfortable and see what happens. It might be as simple as manipulating the weather.