Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Using Weather to Tell a Story



Today’s post comes to you a bit late due to some electricity issues in my neighborhood. The strong wind, I’m sure, is the culprit.

Anyhow…

The inclusion of weather in your writing helps tell a story. The reader can better visualize the setting with details of the sun peaking through the lime green leafs of the maple tree. Let your reader know it just rained by showing your characters walking through puddles on the sidewalks. Using weather grabs the reader’s attention and brings them into a realistic story.

Weather behaves as the antagonist in nature versus character stories. The weather, albeit hurricanes, tornados or snowstorms, acts as the conflict the character must overcome by the end of the story.

You can also use weather as a literary technique. Kathy Temean (link below) talks about different ways weather symbolizes character feelings. In Shakespeare’s play King Lear, a storm begins as King Lear begins to lose his mind. The storm mirrors the intensity King Lear feels.

Temean also discusses how weather conveys the mood of a story. Think about how different weather affects you and try to use it to evoke the same emotion from your readers. Are you weaving a tale of sadness and sorrow? Then, throw some grey skies and rain into your setting. Perhaps you want to lift people up with a story about triumph. Get some sunshine and clear, blue skies into the end of the story.  

Besides symbolism and mood, you can use weather to foreshadow.
 Why not weave in thunderstorms whenever a villain enters a scene. Or use sunshine breaking through the clouds, as a clue to your readers, things for your character will get better soon.

Remember, weather can be a powerful literary tool. Make sure to include it in your writing to build a realistic milieu for your readers to get lost in.

How have you used weather in your writing?

Links:
Kathy Temean discusses weather in storytelling.

5 comments:

Anna said...

I totally agree that weather can influence the mood of the story. But writer beware of the cliche "It was a dark and stormy night..." :)

Michael Offutt said...

Okay...so I started this new story with this great line...

"It was a dark and stormy night."

Does that come across as a great use of weather?

Angela Felsted said...

Weather is fun to play with in stories. A gloomy sky for a gloomy mood, sunshine peeking through the clouds as foreshadowing for a little bit of hope. Plus, it's something else for the character to think about. Good post.

Nofretiri said...

Honestly, I've never paid consciously attention about the weather in my writing ... but you're right! It's a great method to intensify the mood in your scenes! Thanks for the tip and the inspiration! :-)

Happy weekend & keep writing!

Karin @ Nofretiris Dream Of Writing

Amy Brantley said...

I had never thought about it before, but completely agree. Weather is essential to a good story.

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