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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Writing Tips: Weather

When it comes to creating a believable setting for your narrative, weather actually plays a significant role in determining the location and its atmosphere. It’s fairly straightforward that a rainy day on a tropical island would be described categorically opposite to a sunny day in the tundra. Just as the lighting inside a room or its contents gives the reader a deep sense of their location in the story, external conditions function similarly but with an additional touch of symbolism.
Most writers would agree that weather is an integral piece of setting the scene. So much so, that in films or television, you may even become blind to the setup due to the expectation of weather. Quick-- what are the conditions in the climactic scene of Titanic? The opening sequence in LOST? Takes a minute or two to remember, doesn’t it? But once you recall the weather, I’ll bet you envisioned the rest of the scene down to minor details. Now I’ll direct your thoughts to how these decisions operate on a subconscious level.
Sun: Along with providing brightness to the landscape, this otherwise bland forecast can offer your reader with optimistic feelings and visceral connections to their own fair-weather memories.
Partial Sun / Cloudy: Not every day is perfect, even in an ideal location like the tropical island. Some locations may be overcast 9 out of 10 days (i.e. London, Seattle). Clouds can signify a looming conflict or confusion in addition to implying a transitional period.
Rain: It’s slightly cliché to set a depressing or end-game scene in the rain, but it does give emotional credibility to the situation. I am more partial to setting cheerful scenes in the rain for a juxtaposition of moods.
Stormy: This is quite an adaptable category. Storms could range from natural disasters to an every-day blustery gust or snow. Generally, Mother Nature’s storms are seen as a form of anger or fury, but it could also mirror an internal conflict.
Final Note: Time of day and the yearly shift in seasons offers another complex layer onto the weather your characters and readers’ experience. Be careful to note these climate deviations when painting your location to gain an extra dose of compelling realism.   

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