Of Writers and Prose: Weather in stories
January 19, 2015 2 Comments
Yeah, this is the way many people feel about opening up your story with weather.
As authors, we’re told to avoid such cliché beginning, but that doesn’t mean we can’t, or shouldn’t have some detail about the climate our characters are roaming around in. Just about all of my stories have some reference to the weather in them. Why? Because weather affects me on a daily basis, so why shouldn’t it affect my characters, or at least be a part of their lives. Whether (hehe) it’s hot and humid or a Polar Vortex, weather affects us and we shouldn’t overlook putting it in our novels.
In my paranormal series, I use weather to depict the passage of time with the changing of the seasons. Each book is set during a certain season, and the characters reaction to the change adds to the depth of the story. From a light rain falling on them in Hull, to Barb Dole tracing a frost vein on the window of Terin Global, weather can set a mood or show a side of your character that can’t be conveyed through prose or dialogue.
Researching the weather has never been easier. Online sites that give temperature and weather events are incredible tools for an author. Especially if the story takes place in an area the writer is unfamiliar with, even within one’s own country. For one of my other novels, I checked the weather forecast for the area almost every day. Situations occurring with the plot meant the characters would be outside for long periods of time, and the climate can affect them in ways that would add more to the plot. Are they outside during a heat wave? They’ll get dehydrated. Is it raining? They’ll need to look for shelter. What about snow or very cold temperatures? They’ll need to find someplace warm and warm clothing, not to mention they might have to hunker down for a while if there’s a bad snowstorm. There are so many possibilities for things to go wrong and create tension and conflict within the story, and we all know those are two ingredients that keep readers reading.
So the next time someone balks at ‘It was a dark and stormy night’, let them. It might be cliché, but weather done right can make things a lot more interesting to read.