It’s snowing its brains out today, and that makes me think about weather. (Oh, really, Captain Obvious?) Shut up, self. Anyway, it makes me think about weather IN FICTION. They say you shouldn’t start your book or story with a description of the weather, but I think they mean a boring description. Well, duh! You shouldn’t start out with a boring anything, or put a boring anything anywhere in your story. Except food. You can put food anywhere. If that bores some people, that’s their problem.
Weather, though. Weather shouldn’t be put in just to build your word count (unless you’re three weeks into NaNoWriMo and you only have 25,000 words done). If you use weather, it should be used as part of the plot, setting, character or theme. I mean, THE PERFECT STORM, right?
Like any other element of story-telling, weather (if you use it as more than a passing reference) should contribute to the story.
I DON’T CARE:
Since it was a nice day, Lucy decided to wear her light-weight windbreaker.
Lucy couldn’t decide whether to wear her light-weight windbreaker and be chilly this morning and comfortable this afternoon, or her lined jacket and be comfortable this morning and overheated this afternoon. She took the light jacket out and put one arm into the sleeve, then took it back off and hung it up. She touched the heavy jacket, then pulled back. Her stomach hurt. Maybe she wouldn’t go at all.
See, in the second paragraph, I worry that Lucy will need to be cool and collected in the afternoon but be all sweated up, or encumbered by carrying the jacket. Or maybe she’ll have to be outdoors in the morning and be too cold to notice something important in her rush to get into the warm. At the very least, I know that Lucy obsesses over apparently trivial decisions and short-circuits herself.
When I do the rewrites on my NaNo book, PICKLE IN A PEAR TREE, I plan to put some weather-centric stuff into it. It’s set during the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season, and there will naturally be cold and snow, so I might as well use the weather to enhance the story, since it’ll be there, anyway. No sense letting the weather just lounge around, eating me out of house and home, when it could be doing an honest day’s work.
WRITING PROMPT: Write a paragraph in which you use weather to help define someone’s character.
p.s. Be sure to join me tomorrow when Victoria Klein guests, talking about her new book on sustainable living.
KK BreesDecember 6, 2010 at 11:53am
I blogged about weather, as well. I’m a blatant weather fan. Love weather. Love descriptions (well-written) about weather. They get me in the mood to settle in for a good read.
Marian AllenDecember 6, 2010 at 6:35pm
Well-written, the weather couldn’t be taken out of the book without diminishing the whole. Imagine WUTHERING HEIGHTS without the weathery bits!
Mary Montague Sikes - MontiDecember 6, 2010 at 4:12pm
Marian, what a great topic! I love the way you used your example to get over the point.
You’re getting snow there. We aren’t, but it unseasonably cold here in Virginia!
Marian AllenDecember 6, 2010 at 6:37pm
It didn’t snow much, thank goodness! We’re having unseasonable cold here, too, though it probably hurts more in Virginia. We expect some sub-freezing weather, even if this is WAY too early for it.
Nice weather to stay indoors and bake, which I hope to do later in the week.