Jump-starts the plot by dropping characters into a strange situation
Seeking revenge for the theft of his dukedom in Milan, the sorcerer Prospero shipwrecks his brother, Antonio, and his crew, who seek refuge on the same island where Prospero has been living with his daughter, Miranda.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
A cyclone on a Kansas prairie picks up a house containing Dorothy and her dog, Toto, eventually setting it down “very gently—for a cyclone—in the midst of a country with marvelous beauty.”
Brings trouble just as things are looking up
c. 700 bc
After seven years of imprisonment, Odysseus finally leaves Calypso’s island. The sea god Poseidon, however, angered because Odysseus had blinded his son Polyphemus, batters the wanderer with a violent storm, causing “a wondrous sea to swell” and his ship to capsize.
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Just as Janie Crawford thinks she’s finally found marital peace, the Okeechobee hurricane of 1928 makes landfall, devastating the Florida Everglades: “The wind came back with triple fury, and put out the light for the last time.”
Coops up potential lovers until sparks can fly
The Sorrows of Young Werther
When a storm interrupts a village dance, Werther hunkers down with Charlotte. “If something distressing or terrible surprises us in our pleasures, it naturally makes a more powerful impression on us,” Werther notes, “because our senses have been opened to feelings.”
Pride and Prejudice
Drenched by a rainstorm, Jane Bennet recovers at the Bingley house, setting into motion two love stories. “This was a lucky idea of mine, indeed!” remarks her mother, who had sent Jane on horseback rather than in a carriage—“as if the credit of making it rain were all her own.”
Inspires clarity of purpose, for better or for worse
Though his weary crew tries to dissuade him from continuing the hunt, Captain Ahab is invigorated by the sight of lightning striking the Pequod’s masts. “Lightning flashes through my skull,” he exclaims before waving a burning harpoon and vowing to kill the white whale Moby Dick.
Trapped by a blizzard in a provincial city roiled by ideological divisions, Ka, a frustrated writer whose name evokes the word for snow in Turkish, suddenly finds himself brimming with inspiration. “The snow reminds me of God,” he tells a local sheikh.