Let’s face it, in real life it rains, and our lives go on with no underline motive because of it. But what about the lives of our characters in our stories? Can we just have a rainy day that means it’s raining and nothing else? Perhaps, but I think there’s something raw about rain that brings out the worst in us, which usually isn’t too far from the truth. So the rain can actually be a good tool to use to make your character, and reader, see the truth.
I think of my novel Real Virtue and how the rainy scene takes place in the book where everything becomes clear for my heroine and I don’t mean sparkly, but rather Mel’s eyes are opened to the truth. Truth about her mother. Truth about the hero. And the truth about herself. And even though the rain is coming down in buckets outside, her mind’s eye is now seeing nothing but sunny skies ahead.
Now it’s not only books I see this in but also the movies. Take the movie The Notebook where Noah and Allie get stuck in the rain and it cues their frustration and pain with their lost years. At first the scene is cute and funny, but it’s not long before it gets down and gritty, and once again the truth is coming out. And who doesn’t like a good kiss in the rain? (Go ahead take a look…it’s pretty swoon worthy.)
Another of my favorite movies is The Thomas Crown Affair. Now with this one, it’s not the rain that exposes the truth, but rather the fire sprinklers spraying down on the art work. As Nina Simone sings her appropriate song, Sinnerman, it’s the water that makes everything clear, once again, exposing the truth. (You can watch, but warning—spoiler alert! It gives away ending and there is some swearing in background.)
There’s just something about water and its cleansing capabilities that makes great fodder for literature and entertainment. If only a good rainstorm had the potential to clean up our lives and our world so well, but alas, that only happens in the movies. Ooh, perhaps my rainy scene will make my book movie material. Hey, a girl can dream, right? But seriously, my stories are inspirationals, and a big part of Christian fiction is the moment of truth. The washing away of sins or uncovering of lies, so the chains that bind can be broken and our characters can heal and move on. However, in truth, a good rainstorm is not going to take care of those things. That cleansing comes only from Christ, but the rain sure does make for a dramatic punch in our fiction worlds.
The Unlocked Secret: So I say go ahead and give motive to your downpours. Strategically place them to add turmoil and angst for your characters. If nothing else, it’s fun to torture them. But more importantly, I think a good downpour is a symbolic way to say from here on in, things are changing. Out with the old, in with the new.