Skip to main content

Time for another obsession with fictional snow.

Good morning, fellow east coast buddies.  I'm writing this as Winter Storm Jonas just begins to touch Baltimore, so I'm not sure what the snow situation looks like for all of you this fine morning. Me, I have a feeling I'll be recovering from a weekend obsession with finding a way to insert heavy snowfall into one (or more) of my stories.

It never fails.  When there's snow outside - particularly a thick blizzard sheet like they're predicting - I immediately feel ~~inspired~~ and can't wait to start crafting a winter tale.  Something filled with the chilly gloom and despair of a crushing snowbank, but with a growing seed of hope in the center, like the blooming stalks of Spring that wait around the corner.

The problem, of course, is that I'm not usually working on something winter-related when this happens.  In fact, the last time I was trying to work on a novel and it snowed outside was in 2015 when I was wrapping up the first draft of "Born Loser," which explicitly takes place in late summer.  I managed to quell my temptations long enough to avoid any major screw-ups to the setting, but I'll have to go back and double check.

One of the more egregious times this has distracted me was when I wrote my first draft of "Project Zero."  That novel had plenty of problems without me shoehorning a winter-based setpiece into it, but I found a way.  The quickest possible summary goes like this: Heroes discover evidence of some horrible corporate/government conspiracy involving dangerous new technology. Evidence references a secret laboratory based in the middle of nowhere. Heroes search for said laboratory by hiking forty miles out into the tundra and stumbling across a white-camouflaged runway with heating apparatus sealed into the asphalt to allow private jets to come and go undetected and enter an underground bunker.


Why would any of that be necessary?  Assuming the company is on the up-and-up with all other aspects of their research (they are) and/or the government is on board with keeping the project under wraps (they are), why not just put the lab in a secured-but-nondescript building in the middle of a city where it makes sense for people to live and work?  Or borrow some space on a military base somewhere and get the government's blessing to let civilians come and go with the right credentials?

It's one of those larger than life science-fiction ideas that would make for a neat action sequence or special effects shot in a movie, but is otherwise completely stupid.  Worse: it totally derails the story.  Literally all other sequences in the novel take place two thousand miles south in two major cities.  No need to invoke the north pole for a single chapter.

But I loved that idea so much that it survived multiple drafts.  A guy who's obsessed with power and murder carrying around a sword?  Ah, that's stupid and totally implausible - cut it.  Oh, what's this?  A privately owned airstrip on the ass end of the world that uses magic to keep it free and clear for planes to land?  Sounds cool.  Can we get another chapter out of that one?

I'm sure the allure of a wintry scene is attributable to the romantic appeal of the huge, fresh canvas that snow leaves behind.  You see a world transformed into a clean white sprawl and you want to fill it with new ideas.  It's death, beauty, and innovation combined into the ultimate metaphor.

Too bad it doesn't fit into anything I'm working on at the moment. Maybe next year.

PS - Note to future self. Make sure you research the city's emergency snow routes well in advance so you don't end up unintentionally parking in a tow away zone and end up having to move your car a mile away during the next blizzard.  You dummy.

All the Other Nonsense That Got Pushed Off the Main Page (Post Archive)

Show more