whether to use the weather...


Written on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 by haleigh

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Ever used the weather to create a scene? I think most of us have, or will. I wrote a scene last week that was going fine until I realized it had no real setting, no mood. It was my hero and heroine taking a hike through a forest.

Uh, boring.

And I realized that I was missing this HUGE opportunity. Here they were, in the middle of a night, in an N. Irish forest, full of spooky noises and obstacles. There would have been drops of water falling from the canopy above them from an earlier rain storm. There'd be some stray, rolling thunder from the storm that had moved out over the ocean. Scurrying noises from little forest-dwelling creatures.

Now, I realize that's not all weather. But my point is that my characters wandering through the woods was boring. My characters picking their way through a spooky forest as thunder rolled above them rain splattered down is much more interesting. All because of the weather.

Ever seen a picture of weather that just put you there?
I stumbled across this picture when researching what kind of storms they get in N. Ireland. And it instantly put me in Belfast. The rain, the lone streetlight, the fence. There's undertones of something sinister in this picture, much like the city itself and (hopefully) my WIP.

Ever had to go back and add more description? More weather? Any types of weather that just put you in a certain mood or take you somewhere?

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  1. Jessica |

    Ooooh, yes. I love using the weather! It's awesome.
    Pelting rain, crickets, rustling leaves. All good stuff. ;-)
    Your setting sounds great!

  2. MeganRebekah |

    You just gave my brain a much needed push. How can I have over 40,000 words and only one scene that includes the weather?

  3. Marnee Jo |

    Ah, weather. :) I had this epiphany a few weeks ago! No weather. It's cold in my WIP, but that's it. I think maybe I need to add it in this coming scene. It's a fight scene so some rain might just be what I need to make things slick and complicate everything.

  4. haleigh |

    Hey Jessie ~ Pelting rain, crickets and rustling leaves -- ahh, that just makes me happy! What great fall or late summer sounds. I love how you can use things like that to set the mood or emphasize how your character feels.

  5. haleigh |

    Hi Megan - thanks for stopping by! We're about at the same point - I hit 38,000 words this week, and I forgot about the weather until now too :) Glad we're both adding it!

  6. haleigh |

    Marn - ohh, cold, wet rain in the middle of a fight scene. I love it. Nik and Sarah all sopping wet, squinting at each other through the deluge. Breathing hard from exertion but feeling exhilarated from winning the fight...maybe even a kiss in the rain. I love it!!

  7. Cindy |

    You're so right! A really strong description of weather can really set the scene and set the reader up for the right mood. In the last, climactic scene of one of my books, there's the eventual culmination of impending evil and the swirl of snow is so thick it blinds the characters from seeing each other. I think it really helps add to the feeling of vulnerability and loneliness, which is just what I wanted to portray.

    Using a literal picture is a great idea to help give a writer a better mental picture of what the scene needs to look and feel like.

  8. haleigh |

    Cindy - ohh, blinded by both snow and evil. I love it! It shows so much more in the scene than telling ever would. Saying a character feels vulnerable has nothing on them being blinded by snow and alone :)

  9. Melissa |

    It's funny how weather is one of those universal topics that gets lost because we take it for granted. When I think about it, my Guardian story covers all four seasons but, chock it up to my Minnesota background, I had a much easier time imagining the winter scenes than the sunshine of the Hawaiian honeymoon!

    Another thing, besides setting the mood, that I find interesting about using the weather in writing is how it can really be an authentic part of the plot historically and for the "big picture." You touched on it in False Move when you mentioned Katrina in your 2005 setting from the past. A great touch! And who knows, if you hadn't mentioned it, some picky reader might have put together the timeline and location and called you on it.

    I don't think a writer should be oblivious to a big weather event, but how much does a reader care about the "big picture?" Or is it just recent history? Would it be important, for instance, for a romance set in 1816 to at least allude to how it was "the year without a summer" - - record cold caused by a volcano eruption the year before? I can't think of anyone that has. So either I'm overthinking or it's just that 1816, as almost post regency, was just an unpopular year for romance novels!

    Lots to think about with this weather business!

  10. haleigh |

    I never knew that, Melissa, that 1816 was cold. How bizarre! That could be the basis for a great novel. That's hilarious that you're better at writing cold than heat. But you're right - the weather is such a normal part of our lives that we take it for granted!


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