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Non-human characters

Crumbly Writer

Just listened to a fascinating interview (on the local radio) about an author who casts the weather in her book (specifically, the rain) as a main character.

I'm curious, how many of you focus on inanimate objects like cities, states, natural forces or the weather as characters in your stories? More importantly, how do you implement it?

In my case, my lesbian detective book features a stormy winter in New York City prominently, having the weather turn sour anytime trouble approached, the sun shining when hope peaked its head above the clouds. But my Pro editor cut virtually all of it out, claiming I was "broadcasting" future story events rather than letting them play out on their own. She was right, of course, but it took a lot out of the story not to have the inevitability of fate playing a role in the story.

I've also used specific cities in my stories, but they rarely had a real 'feel' or personality. My descriptions of Manhattan came close, but they were more factual descriptions, rather than temperamental impressions of a given locale.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I'm curious, how many of you focus on inanimate objects like cities, states, natural forces or the weather as characters in your stories?


I do kind of have a character like that in the new project I've mentioned working on. In my case, it's a magic based AI.

I think that for me to cast an inanimate object as a character it would have to be sentient in some way. Some kind of AI, based in either magic or technology.

Certain props can play an important role in a story, but without will and / or intent, a prop is all it is.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

In my case, my lesbian detective book features a stormy winter in New York City prominently, having the weather turn sour anytime trouble approached, the sun shining when hope peaked its head above the clouds.


If you were willing to introduce a super-natural element, rather than as foreshadowing, you could have it where the MC's mood affects the weather. Thus it would become a trailing, rather than a leading indicator.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

If you were willing to introduce a super-natural element, rather than as foreshadowing, you could have it where the MC's mood affects the weather. Thus it would become a trailing, rather than a leading indicator.

It was designed more as a 'mood enhancer', introducing a dark element when things are going badly, or a hopeful sentiment when things are looking up. It was to capture the mood and feel of each chapter, rather than announcing what was about to happen (aka. Snoopy's "It was a dark and stormy night").

It's not so much a character as they advance the book's plot, but they respond like the character's do so specific events, reflecting the character's moods and capturing the essence of the character's themselves, showing just how little control of our lives we each hold. (Big theme shit again) 'D

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

The first-person omniscient narrator in "The Book Thief" is Death. So is the character in the movie "Joe Black."

And what about God in the movie "Oh God!"

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

The first-person omniscient narrator in "The Book Thief" is Death. So is the character in the movie "Joe Black."

If any character is omniscient, it would be death, as God rarely takes part in any human events (despite the assurances of most preachers and football coaches).

El_Sol

The most succesful way of doing it to a city... there are several good books where the cityscape is its own character within the book.

I especially have seen it done well in fantasy novels that use London.

Perv Otaku

@Crumbly Writer

Just listened to a fascinating interview (on the local radio) about an author who casts the weather in her book (specifically, the rain) as a main character.

I would have to read the book, or at least an excerpt. I can't even imagine how rain would be written as a main character.

There was an episode of Supernatural recently that was done "from the point of view" of their car, which just meant the camera POV was always in the car, and all the action happened in or just outside the car. I wouldn't even really consider that as writing the car "as a character" per se.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Perv Otaku

I would have to read the book, or at least an excerpt. I can't even imagine how rain would be written as a main character.

Not having read the book either, my understanding was that she'd introduce each story element by focusing on the weather, which foreshadowed how the characters would later respond, casting the character dramas as a force of nature beyond their control (thus the character's actions are more a reflection of the main character, the rain).

Unfortunately, I was in the car at the time, and never got the name of the book (other than it being by a N.C. writer).

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