Monday, July 7, 2014

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night





 When I switched blog sites, I lost the archives with old posts. During a fleeting moment of boredom, I started looking through some old blogs and found this one. My feelings haven’t changed, so here goes nothing, although there are a few minor changes. This was posted by me back in 2010, during the monsoon season. (Sometimes it pays off to keep hard copies of things.) Interestingly, it’s thundering outside as I write this, and just starting to rain.



Opening a story with, “It was a dark and stormy night,” has become kind of a joke to some. Many say it’s too much of a clich√© to use in a story. Okay, so how about, “It was a dark and stormy day?” That doesn’t seem to have quite the same punch, and it may not be as scary as what’s hiding in the dark and the storm.

I live in Northern Arizona and we had a monsoon storm of good proportions today. It started around six o’clock this morning, and although the sun is out for the moment, it looks like there’s more to come. The rain came down by the bucketful. (I can exaggerate like that because that’s what I do for a living.) However, it did rain pretty hard for quite some time. The lightning and thunder were awesome to see and hear.

At one point there was lightning all around us, which meant there were constant strikes and the thunder was continuous. It sounded like it rolled from one end of the sky to the other. The storm was directly overhead for a while, and there was an ear-splitting crack before the thunder boomed. Our electricity went off for several hours, which rarely happens in our neighborhood.

Sounds like the setting for a story to me, but it should have happened after dark. And it did, not too long ago. This is our monsoon season.

If the electricity hadn’t gone out I would have put a movie in the DVD player. It would have been a mystery that began on a dark and stormy night – what else? It would have been appropriate to what we were experiencing firsthand. What could be more mysterious and suspenseful than a dark night, loud thunder, and a sudden scream? Well, probably a lot of things, but I would have enjoyed it. Hmm. Maybe add the sound of forceful winds blowing.

Somehow a bright and sunny day just doesn’t say mystery to me. Mind you, I’m talking about the plus side of the stormy night in a mystery, not the plus side of a beautiful day. I’ll leave that for a different post. Menacing things can certainly happen during the daylight hours.

I mean, really, think about it. If there’s a sudden knock at your back door when you’re not expecting anyone, is it going to be more suspenseful during the day? Or at night, during a storm, when the back porch light has burned out? And you live in the country far from your neighbors – or you live in a nice neighborhood, but your neighbors are gone on vacation. The scenarios are endless during nasty weather.

Maybe your vehicle has broken down on a lonely road and a black car pulls up behind you with the lights out. And just maybe he nudges your car with his front bumper. Uh oh. You see someone exit the car in your rear view mirror. He’s wearing a hoody and you can’t see his face – and he walks funny. Is he a bad guy, or is he a bad driver with a sprained ankle who happens to be wearing a hooded sweatshirt because he’s cold and really wants to help you?

Watch some vintage mysteries. Many of them start out with a storm and pouring rain. It adds to the suspense. Oh, yes, it really does.

Anyway, after sitting through the storm today, dark and stormy nights were really on my mind. Just thought I’d mention it. By the way, many readers love a good storm to read by. Or, ...by which to read.

Until next time, wishing you bright and sunny days with no strangers showing up at your back door unannounced.

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18 comments:

  1. The unexpected can make a book more exciting, so a storm during the day could make a reader curious to read more.

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    1. Realistically, if there were a storm during the day it would be darker instead of bright and sunshiny. Good point, Morgan. Thank you for stopping in!

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  2. I agree, Marja. There's nothing more effective than a dark and stormy night, the threat of a tornado in the middle of the day or a blizzard in the dead of winter to set the tone and to create suspense in a mystery!

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    1. Good points, Pat. Isn't it interesting how so many weather conditions can add so much to a book? Thank you for commenting!

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  3. Could not agree more. As a reader one always wonders what lurks in your dark & stormy nights. Now we know they really do exist.

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    1. LOL Was there ever any doubt, Jake? I agree with you. As a reader I can't help but wonder what's lurking. Thank you so much for commenting!

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    1. I had a feeling you might. : ) Love the use of weather in some of your books. Thank you for commenting today!

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  5. And think about all the old black and white movies that relied on dark and stormy nights with the windows open so the wind would blow the curtains and blow out the candles.

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    1. Very good, Trish. I've also noticed movies that start with the storm and a train coming down the tracks. Thank you for commenting today!

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  6. Looks as if we all agree. Letting the weather set up an atmosphere helps build up that creepy feeling which foreshadows an unfortunate event. A murder, an attack, a stalker sighting--those feel more mundane in broad daylight. Such a scenario could be used for shock effect.

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  7. You're so right, Joyce. I've read stories where things happened on a bright and sunny day, and they can be scary. However, to me they'd be more frightening with nighttime sights and sounds. So often shock effect is what mysteries need. Thank you so much for commenting!

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  8. I love dark and stormy nights. When lived in Puget Sound, had a lot of them. As always, Marja, another enjoyable blog. Almost missed this one, haven't been of FB much. Glad I got on tonight.

    Madeline

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    1. Thank you, Madeline. We've been close to monsoon storms for the past few days, but only one reared its head. There's something exciting about a thunder storm. Thank you for stopping in today!

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  9. The dark always makes things scarier. When we had flooding several years ago, I could handle the rising water until the sun went down. Then I was terrified because I couldn't see how fast the water was rising nor how close it was to the house. I think it's losing the sense of good sight, i.e., shutting off one of our senses that we depend upon that makes it so frightening.

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    1. I can understand your fear in that case, Lesley. I wouldn't have liked being in your shoes. You're right about losing a sense. I had a temporary vision problem and it really had an impact on me. Thank you so much for commenting!

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  10. When it's dark and storming here, my first thought is to pick up a good mystery and a cup of hot tea. Some of my favorite mysteries are the ones where the author went out of there way to set a dark scene. It gives me the "willies" as my kids would say.

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  11. We're in the middle of the monsoon season here. Very little rain, but lots of thunder and lightning so far. It's a great setting for a mystery. Thank you so much for stopping in!

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