Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Frigid Opportunities


By Mark W. Danielson

What a way to welcome 2010! So much for Global Warming. January slammed the northern continents with record low temperatures. The late State of Fear author Michael Crichton would have loved to hear environmentalists like Al Gore explain this latest arctic blast. Don’t get me wrong; we can do a lot to clean up our air, but weather patterns are cyclic and ongoing, and as long as we are floating atop a molten core, we can look forward to more severe weather, volcanoes, and earthquakes.

But this cold snap also gives writers a wealth of situations for character development. The news recently reported iguanas falling out of trees when the Florida temperatures dropped below forty. Since these reptiles can’t handle the cold, their bodies go into hibernation. They’ll awake once the temperature warms, probably wondering how they got there. Now, imagine your character’s reaction while hiding in the Florida swap and one of these lizards falls on him.

Authors should welcome cold weather as an opportunity to create vivid scenes in their stories. For example, imagine a homeless man struggling to find shelter when the missions are full. Fighting for his life, his fingers and toes are numb. Since most people stay inside, there is no one to approach for help. In desperation, fight breaks out and he dies a violent death. His misery may be over, but it’s just beginning for the homicide detectives.

The detectives investigating this murder are subjected to the same cold. They find the victim’s blood frozen in the snow. There are tire tracks and footprints nearby, but did they come from the murderer? They find bare skin stuck to a metal post. Their breath is visible, their extremities numb and aching. Their mustaches are frozen from their dripping noses. The air stinks from alley fires and fireplace smoke. The dry snow crunches under their feet. A distant power plant creates an ominous cloud. Snow builds on windows as gale winds pile drifts. The white Hummer parked up the alley is barely visible in the freezing fog. Moisture from its exhaust shows its engine is running. Smoke drifting from the driver’s window shows it’s occupied. The detectives are being watched. Car chases on ice are always exciting.

Only your imagination and power of observation can limit the description in this winter murder. Next time you’re out and about in these extreme conditions, look around, take notice, and jot down your thoughts over a nice hot cocoa. After all, winter a great time for mayhem.

8 comments:

Jean Henry Mead said...

I couldn't agree with you more about "global warming," Mark. I've used weather as an antagonist in all my novels to date, despite betselling authors' warnings NOT to do so.

Great photos, as usual. Where exactly was the first one taken?

Mark W. Danielson said...

The first photo is in Michigan after they received 48 inches of snow in 48 hours. The middle ones are from Florida. The "ice sculpture" is a local Denver fountain. The last is Big Ben, London.

Nik said...

Poor iguanas....pass the ketchup

Mark W. Danielson said...

By now the iguanas should be waking up, craving ketchup.

Beth Terrell said...

Now I want an iguana.

Where's all that global warming when we need it? One pretty snow a year is perfect for me, but this year we just got blistering cold, a dusting of snow, and a layer of ice. Of course, it's not over yet.

Mark W. Danielson said...

I'm in Memphis for three days, the heat is out in my crash pad, and it's quite chilly. Now I hear it's not politically correct to say "Global Warming" as "Climate Change" has replaced it. How do you say, "duh"?

Ben Small said...

http://www.kusi.com/home/78477082.html?video=pop

Mark W. Danielson said...

Good link, Ben. John Coleman tells it like it is about global warming. As I said, we can do better to clean up the air, but we're not responsible for temperature increase or decrease. If you haven't read it yet, read State of Fear.