Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Drama and Emotion of Weather

Weather: whatever is happening outside.
Weather is more than just an outdoors condition, it is the Earth telling us we live in it, and at its whim, no matter how we harm what it has developed over millions of millennia. Right now, Earth is our only home. Though we often try to disregard the weather, it affects us. Weather determines what type of shelter we need, how we dress, what we eat, often what we can or cannot do.

This is stating the obvious, everyone knows this, which is the reason it is so effective in stories. It is a storytelling device, often used in movies. I’m sure you can think of film scenes where the weather was used effectively to show danger or despair, triumph or joy.

It works because weather involves the reader’s memory and imagination, and helps to show rather than tell a situation. Weather adds drama by involving the reader’s familiarity with the weather so that he or she can connect it to the situation without a lot of telling. A bright bolt of lightning warns readers of incipient trouble. They know what a prediction of tornado or hurricane means to the characters. A snowstorm can indicate dangerous travel and the possibility of being stranded. An extended drought means the possibility of firestorms, too much rain, or melting snow, means the chance of floods; and if the weather is too perfect? Surely something bad is coming soon.

Because weather can also affect our mood, when days of dark gloomy overcast skies pass, it can bring on a character’s sadness or depression. A heatwave means characters might be irritable, and a drought indicates worry. It is amazing the number of ways weather can evolve a story.

I have used the weather with purpose in writing, and then not. In one of my stories, Home Word ~ Aginfeld, I deprived the characters of weather, put them on an inhospitable planet undergoing bioformation, the inhabitants living in closed habitats. After a thousand years, the inhabitants are afraid of anything outside the habitat, enough to even close off all views of outside. How strange would that be?

Visit the blogs listed below and read other author's opinions on weather in writing
Skye Taylor
Rachael Kosinski
Beverley Bateman
Anne Stenhouse 
Helena Fairfax 
Judith Copek
Victoria Chatham 
Kay Sisk
Dr. Bob Rich 


  1. I enjoyed your post. Weather is a very effective story telling tool. Your story depriving the people of weather reminds me of Astronaut Kelly who was on the space station for 340 days. I cannot imagine not having fresh air, cold or warm days, or the sun warming my face. Excellent topic.

  2. Good point - that weather is something we all know and can relate to - at least to some degree. I live in Florida now and every once in awhile I find myself in a conversation about the bitter cold of winter that freezes the ground four or more feet down and I get amazed looks. Obviously these folk are not going to relate to a cold northern winter, but likewise, northerners will never understand the desire to shut oneself up in air conditioning on a beautiful day. But other things we do share - the gloom of a storm, the alarm of a tornado or hurricane, the glow of a perfect summer day, or a romantic moonlit evening.

  3. After reading everyone's posts I'm going to make darn sure I use weather to better effect in my writing from now on.

  4. Interesting post. And the concept of depriving people of weather for years is something I'd never considered, or the implications. Sounds like a great plot.

  5. Oooo, I really liked the idea of characters not having any weather to interact with. A LONG time ago--I want to say 4th or 5th grade--we read a story like that, where these kids went to school underground and one day a year the weather was hospitable enough to go outside. I have no idea what the title was, but basically this one girl ends up missing her opportunity to go outside and has to wait a whole year until she can feel the sun on her face again. No idea why we read that at such a young age, but it's a fascinating thing to consider. Horrible and terrifying, but interesting.

  6. Rhobin, I love your opening sentence. It says it all, expresses the intimate need humans feel for being in contact with nature.

  7. Well said, Rhobin. Weather effects everything. We've hardly seen the sun for weeks in gloomy Boston and it gets one down after a while. I love to use weather and my favorite season to plop my writing into is summer.
    It would definitely be weird not to have any weather, what a creative idea. Never thought of such a thing. The more telling details we use, he better our stories are. Thanks for a great topic. Again! Sorry, I'm commenting so late.:(

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