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Let's Talk About The Weather... In Writing



Sometimes I'm asked poignant questions by other authors that deserve a showcase for their information and ingenuity. A conversation I had with a client and friend of mine recently is relevant to this case.


What transpired over text between us went like this:


Client: "Random; would you say it's bad practice to start a chapter or open a scene with the weather?"


Me: "Unless it's a disaster kind of situation, then yes. The same way you don't open with waking up or a dreamscape unless it's Matrix/Inception like or something terrible is happening."


C: "Ah, got it. Now what if you open with let's say some dialogue, action or wtv. Can you help set the tone and setting AFTER that with some weather alongside other descriptors?"


Me: "So long as the weather either perfectly matches (the confrontation in the pouring rain that ends in an angsty kiss) or is exactly the opposite to give the appearance of things being fine. Like a prophetic doom with clear sky and chirping birds. No one will believe it. Think of the weather like a "sign from God" in writing. Does your god have a good sense of humor, like to mess around with creation, couldn't care less about the happenings of mortals? All vital to deciding what to point out. But also, based on the length of your book, you could probably do without as well."


C: "Makes perfect sense. So you're saying based on the length of the book you can do without the weather altogether?"


Me: "Yes. There are loads of books where the weather is never mentioned."


C: "Why is that okay, especially based on the length? I guess I always assumed (outside of the opening) the weather can be used strategically to aide the setting and a crucial aspect of it."


Me: "Yes it can, but if it's not necessary and there are plenty of other indicators to mood or action, then it's not necessary. Think of the weather like a background character. It helps in deciding if you can use your more prominent characters to portray what you want to use the weather for. If none of your characters can portray the feelings the same way the weather can, then it's worth mentioning."


C: "One more thing. If the character lets say is trying to hide the emotions, is that an instance of them not being able to portray the mood as well? Therefore use outside things or subtle nuances they may have?"


Me: "If they are trying to hide something from the POV character, let it stay hidden unless that person is a bad liar and can't keep secrets. If the POV character is the one trying to hide something, it's better to use diversions than overt things like the weather. Unless the weather is an actual character who has been messing with the people all throughout the book. Like the weather is actually God. Make sense?"


C: "What do you mean by using diversions? Like giving the character something to distract themselves to forget or hide emotion?"


Me: "Right. Unless you want to force them to face their feelings, but that doesn't happen with the weather unless there's a scenario like a tornado destroyed the shelter of the loved one and now the POV is desperate to find them and there's so much debris there's no way they survived but if they did then there's no holding the POV back from expressing themselves now because life's too short. Like that sort of thing."


Of course, there are plenty of good reasons to include something like the weather, and there are just as many reasons to leave it out. Way more than were prompted in the text thread above. What is important is knowing your characters and how you can get away with not saying anything about the "acts of God" unless it's absolutely necessary.


Some primary examples in media include the rain during the kiss scene in The Notebook, the characterization of a tornado in Sharknado, and the wrath of God in the form of a flood in the Noah's Arc story.


We also attach idioms to weather, which can aide a story depending on the need. A lightning strike as a symbol of bad luck is a good example of this, which the Looney Tunes use a lot, especially in the Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner stories.


All in all, a well placed mention of the weather in writing can do wonders for your work, but it is important to not go overboard with mentions, and even more important to give the personality of the weather to an actual character if possible.


 

We are always looking to work with published and aspiring authors. If you're interested in learning more about this and other interesting writing related subjects, schedule a free consultation to discuss your goals and possible paths to success.

 

Stay tuned for more articles, announcements, and events regarding Courage Publishing by subscribing to our newsletter! You can also email us with questions at publishcourage@gmail.com.


 

Lexi Mohney is an award-winning, self published author and a book coach living in Ann Arbor, MI. Throughout her writing and coaching career, she's lived by the motto of "six seconds of insane courage," and worked with her own coaches, groups, and support system to see her Big Audacious Dreams come true. Her greatest goal is to help others achieve success of their own. Her first published piece, Carnal Knowledge, won an award at the 7th Annual Bisexual Book Awards in NYC in June 2019. These days, you can find her working with clients or on her own writing (you can't have writer's block on multiple books at once). Contact her through her website or on social media.

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